Summertime can be a difficult time to remain sober and happy in a life of recovery. The warmer months lead to more people being outside enjoying themselves. With more people outside there are more vices around and more things to tempt you to fall back into old habits.
Barbeques, pool parties, vacation destinations, and more are all filled with people enjoying the festivities and probably drinking alcohol. This open alcohol use can be tough to handle for people in recovery but fear not, there is a clear set of guidelines that will help you continue on your journey of recovery.
Working Towards a Successful Summer
The first thing to consider are common fears and feelings that people in recovery deal with all year, but especially in the summer months.
“I can’t have fun anymore” This is one of the most common thoughts when entering or living a life of sobriety. Unfortunately it often leads to relapse, so it is important to remember that everyone has fun in different ways. Combating this feeling takes time but is very achievable, just remember to think of a sober activity that you enjoy when you start to worry about your ability to have fun.
“It’s embarrassing to be sober” This is another common thought but again it is possible to get past. The key to combating this perceived embarrassment is to surround yourself with like minded people who understand and care about you. This will make it easier to compartmentalize which opinions you truly respect and thus be less self conscious about your good life decisions.
“I feel weird without a drink in my hand” Finally an easier problem to handle! To combat this issue and feel right at home from backyard barbeques to sandy beaches is to simply make virgin cocktails. There are thousands of delicious drinks that can be made at nearly any party that will taste great, allow you to feel like you are fitting in, and help prevent you from relapsing. You can even start to turn this into a hobby that you do in your down time.
“I’m afraid I will be tempted to relapse” This is a very valid and relevant fear and yet it is still possible to combat starting right now. The first thing to remember is that you are not obligated to go to, or stay at, any event. Before you go, think of a good exit strategy if you become overwhelmed. Try easing into events, stop by a few until you become comfortable enough to stay longer.
To proactively fight back against these difficulties and insecurities it can be very beneficial to set goals for the summer. These goals should involve personal aspirations and life goals as well as goals for getting back into the summer social scene.
To make these goals as effective as possible you need to make them specific, attainable, measurable, relevant, and timely
Specific goals are far easier to pursue because you are able to focus on a clear outcome that you can work towards every single day. A simple example for this summer would be “show up to so and so’s barbeque.
Making sure that your goal is attainable feels like an obvious one, but many people make the mistake of reaching too far with their goal setting and in turn are unable to reach them. Instead of setting a goal of “return to my pre-sobriety social life” start with smaller ideas like “Show up and say hi to some friends I haven’t seen in a while”
Being able to measure goals is really the only way to ensure that you are working towards your end goal. This summer, think about going to one of the next three events, or one event a month until you are starting to feel more comfortable around other people drinking.
This one may seem obvious but you need to make goals relevant to your life. Even though we are talking about feeling comfortable in summer situations, make sure that you don’t forget how you feel about those summer events and where you specifically want to get to. Don’t set goals because a friend sets one or because we recommend it here, make sure to cater them specifically to your own life. Only goals set specifically with your own feelings in mind will truly be attainable.
Setting a timeframe for your goals is a great way to ensure you hold yourself to it and continue to make progress towards that goal. Setting multiple goals at the same time with different timelines is a great way to balance positive feelings of success with large personal changes that will be more difficult to achieve.
Following these guidelines and setting goals to proactively avoid negative thinking this summer is an excellent way to enjoy your summer during a life of sobriety.
Successful Sobriety Especially During The Summertime
Fighting back against the fears and difficulties associated with being sober through the summer months is something that will take time and energy, but it will not be impossible. To fight back you need to identify what your specific fears and difficulties will be throughout the summer months and then work proactively to limit them and have a good time in spite of them. A great way to do this is to set goals following the parameters we set above.
What are you waiting for? Start working towards having a fun and eventful summer while growing in your life of sobriety.