There’s an old song with the line, “Summertime, and the living is easy.” After all, school’s out, vacation plans have been made and the warm weather and long days beckon us to play hooky from normal life and relax by the beach or stay out late. But the living may not be as easy during summertime if you are working on your sobriety. The season’s unpredictability and shift in normal schedules can be disruptive if you aren’t staying centered and focused on the tools you need to maintain your sobriety. Living a healthy lifestyle is the key to leading a successful life of sobriety during the summer (as well as every other time of year). Here are some summer routines that will make life a little bit easier for you.
The Mindfulness Routine
Mindfulness can be an essential part of your day, a practice that will leave you staying centered and calm. The goal of mindfulness is to release the thoughts, worries and judgements that may plague you during the day. As you empty your brain of those concerns, you replace it with a serene focus on being still. This can mean paying attention to your senses—feeling the weight of your body as you sit on the floor, or savoring the scent of the incense you are burning—or honing in on the rhythmic inhalation and exhalation of your deep breathing. If outside thoughts do spring to mind, simply release them and resume your focus, without placing blame or judgement on yourself.
Meditation is a wonderful mindfulness practice. You may choose to adopt a word or a mantra to center your practice around, or perhaps use an app for a guided meditation session. Find a quiet place to meditate where you won’t be distracted. Morning is a great time to take a few minutes and set a mindset of mindfulness for the day; with more hours of daylight, summer is also a terrific opportunity to find a vantage point where you can luxuriate in the beauty of a sunset.
The Workout Routine
You may be tempted to skip exercise during the summer if it’s too hot outside. But exercise can be extremely beneficial during life in recovery. It is a great way to alleviate stress, which can decrease the risk that you’ll lapse back into substance use as a coping mechanism. Plus, the endorphin release from physical activity can boost your mood and create a sense of positivity.
If it’s sweltering where you live, beat the heat by working out early in the morning or adopting new habits, like swimming laps in the community pool or joining a gym with air conditioning. You can also incorporate mindfulness-based workouts into your routine; yoga and tai chi are excellent at slowing you down so you can focus on your breathing and your body as you move into different poses, creating an always-welcome sense of relaxation as well as building muscles and joint flexibility.
The Eating Routine
Let’s face it: There’s nothing as tasty as an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. In moderation, treats like that are one of the joys of summer. It’s when you overindulge—in ice cream, s’mores, burgers, pizza, you name it—that jeopardizes your chances of living a healthy lifestyle.
A diet in whole, unprocessed foods is great for your mind and your body. When you eat well, you feel better physically and you can have a brighter outlook. And summer is a wonderful season to focus on whole foods, thanks to a bounty of delicious produce such as berries, tomatoes, corn and zucchini. When you are eating a healthy diet, you’ll feel good and be less inclined to fall back to substance use.
The Party Routine
Barbecues, holiday parties, after-work get-togethers—summer is a time to be social. Unfortunately, however, those social occasions often include lots of alcohol, which can pose a threat to your resolve to live sober. That doesn’t mean you have to turn down all party invitations—just use some simple strategies to make party-going a pleasure, not a problem.
If the event you are attending is BYOB, bring a nonalcoholic beverage for yourself and to share with others. If you know there will be a lot of alcohol and you don’t feel like explaining your recovery to others, you can volunteer to be the designated driver. You may also want to bring along a sober friend, someone who understands your goals in recovery and will support you at the party.
The Vacation Routine
A break from the stress and hectic pace of daily life can be super relaxing, and you can come home feeling recharged and feeling great about your sobriety. The flip side of that, however, is that a vacation takes you away from your normal routines and rhythms, and leave you susceptible to temptation if you can’t use your normal coping routine.
As best you can, try to adapt your tools to fit your vacation time. Before leaving, schedule an appointment with your therapist to talk about strategies you can employ while you are away, and find out if you can call in case of an emergency. Don’t go overboard on eating rich food while on vacation and continue to exercise, whether that’s working out in the hotel gym or taking a bike tour of the city you’re visiting. Perhaps the most important part of trip planning is to find 12-step group meetings at your destination, so you still have that connectedness, support and accountability. If you do all these things, your vacation can feel truly refreshing and relaxing.
If you want help in attaining sobriety any time of the year, contact Casa Palmera. Our caring and capable staff is ready to help you set goals for recovery and launch you on a life of sobriety that can bring you joy and satisfaction all throughout the year.