10 Ways to a Sober Summer

By Hayleigh Hatcher 06/23/16

Summer has no more to do with drinking than the holiday season. Not only can you still have fun—you can actually have real fun!

10 Ways to a Sober Summer
Summer isn't cold beers and frozen cocktails.

It’s finally summer, a season equated with so much beauty and life. Sunsets, surfing, beaches, barbecues, picnics, travel, and love are just a few serendipitous events associated with the warmest months of the year. On the other hand, there is a whole other facet of embodied summer fun, and it involves alcohol. Day drinking, frozen fruity spirits, and coolers of beer are often everywhere you turn. I grew up in Florida and that’s where I learned that Margaritaville was anywhere I wanted it to be, and as long as the sun was shining it was five o'clock somewhere. Along with summer comes an unspoken pressure to have travel plans, weekends filled with activities, and fun times in general. As an active member of recovery rooms, I know this can seem intimidating and may have you wondering how to enjoy the summer sans alcohol. My sobriety date happens to be August 6th. It seemed like my drinking and drug use were unavoidable that last summer I used. There was always a reason to go for a glass of something...which always led to a bag of something. The truth is, the summer has no more to do with drinking than the holiday season. Not only can you still have fun, you can actually have real fun! Here are ten ways to have a sensational summer sober:

1. Step Up Your Program. Regardless of where you happen to be in the recovery process, stepping up your program guarantees a new level of success. It's in the meetings where the foundation begins. Connection with others and social contact are just the start. Now that it’s warm outside, the fellowship appears to be stronger. People don’t seem to rush home after meetings as quickly, and there is a general camaraderie in the air. Checking out different meetings is a great way to meet new people, broaden your horizons, and open up the door to new possibilities. Never underestimate what can happen if you try something different! The summer also lends itself to more program-related activities such as the “Not A Glum Lot” trips where you can join others in camping, fellowship, and rafting. On the other hand, if you'd prefer to keep it lighter, actions as simple as getting a service commitment, making more outreach calls, or reading new literature are sure to enhance your life—and in turn enhance your summer.

2. Learn Something New. There is so much talk of what we want to try, it's a great topic of conversation even. How often though, do we put that ambition into play in our lives? Learning how to play an instrument, creative writing, botany, baking, and drawing are a few activities you could spend some time on this summer. Recovery life can get intense, but learning something new, regardless of how large or small, is fun loving and enjoyable. 

3. Get Your Vitamin D! One of the best parts of summer is the sunshine. Sunny days are vibrant days and soaking up the sun in healthy amounts is beneficial! Vitamin D helps your brain create positive neural connections that keep your mind sharp and positive—and let's not forget a little vitamin D on the skin adds a glow that enhances the appearance of pretty much everyone.

4. Try an Outdoor Activity.  With three months of sunny skies and sultry temperatures, there is no time like the present to try an outdoor activity. Connecting with the great outdoors awakens the senses, and there are many different ways to do so. Head to the beach and take a swim, build a sandcastle, surf, or all of the above. If for some reason the ocean is not your forte, there are several other outdoor activities to choose from. Yoga in the park, rollerblading, gardening, intramural sports, stargazing, sailing, or simply sunbathing with a book can get you outside and enjoying the environment.

5. Make a Killer Playlist. There are certain songs that embody the sense of freedom representative of summer—music that's nostalgic of being young and in love, or being wild and free. Music is a gateway to happiness. Putting on a favorite song and belting out the lyrics is an instant mood enhancer. This is the type of thing that is best described with feeling, and it feels good. So get creative and craft a special playlist for the summer. Make sure to include all of your favorite songs, old and new. If you're feeling stumped or out of the loop, you can easily go on Spotify and navigate your way through artists, playlists, and genres to cultivate your ultimate summer fantasy mix. Once you do this, simply let go, listen, and let the magic happen.

6. Start a Fitness Routine. With the hottest months of the year upon us, beach bodies are on the minds of many—and with that comes talk of exercise, or lack thereof. The summer is a great time to start a fitness routine, not just for the sake of looking good, but more importantly for feeling good. The days are longer which gives the illusion of more time, and with the complimentary weather, exercise is easy. It can be as simple as walking out the door and taking a stroll, or as intense as a hot yoga challenge. The benefits of personal fitness are not only esteemable, they are endless.

7. Master a Current Hobby. There's nothing like being the master of your own domain. Most of us have unique interests and unique skills we partake in here and there, but mastering one of these practices is where the satisfaction lies. Take some time this summer to choose a hobby you enjoy, and make yourself adept in it. Not only will you will learn and grow, you will become a more interesting person in the process. 

8. Expand Your Social Circle. When I was a child my mother would say “make new friends and keep the old.” I often recall those wise words as I navigate through life. There are so many amazing people out there and endless opportunities that accompany meeting them. After all, what is happiness if we don’t have others to share it with?

9. Celebrate. Have a barbecue, host a picnic, or simply invite others over for mocktails and snacks—and don’t forget to have that summer playlist jamming in the background. Creating the ambiance you enjoy. Sharing it with others is the gift that keeps on giving. If you've taken any of the previous actions on this list, the celebration experience will be abundant!

10. Stay Active. Action (noun): a thing done; an act. One of my favorite statements is: move a muscle, change a thought. An action is the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. Take actions this summer to manifest the things you want in life. Writing out a vision, creating a collage that represents your desires, prayer, and meditation, are all actions you can take to bring your wishes to fruition. The result is mind blowing!

What a blessing to have three months of warm weather, blue skies, and blooming flowers which we get to experience fully without a hangover or regrettable behavior. The opportunity to be available and present for new experiences is a great side effect of sober living that we can utilize all summer long!

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