As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, many of us are looking forward to all the festivities of the summer months. For people in recovery, especially early recovery, summer can be a major relapse trigger. The good news is that there are some simple ways you can embrace your summer in recovery, without getting thrown off track.
- Plan Ahead
From vacations to backyard barbeques, the summer months almost guarantee multiple party invites. Chances are alcohol will be served at many of these events. Developing a plan is crucial in preventing relapse, reducing stress, and enjoying the time with your loved ones. Take some time to reflect on what high-risk situations you may encounter and form a plan to help reduce the risk. Remember, “No” is a full sentence – no explanation required. Refusing a drink, declining a party invitation, or leaving an uncomfortable situation are all acceptable actions and do not need to be explained. It may be helpful to keep the phone numbers of recovery supports close or to ask someone to tag along to events. This can provide additional support in crucial moments. Having personal transportation is also advisable, as it makes leaving a sticky situation much easier. Additionally, cluing in loved ones will provide vital in-the-moment support.
2. Embrace your Support Network
The recovery community is full of vibrant events for every occasion. Find out how your local recovery community is celebrating this summer and get involved. Also take time to evaluate your personal recovery supports. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who support your recovery goals. These should be people who you can rely on for support if cravings or urges come up. Don’t ‘fake it until you make it’, reach out for help before you need it.
3. Stick to a Recovery Routine
Before summer gets into full swing, recommit to your recovery. Remember the old saying – Anything we put ahead of our recovery, we are sure to lose. Make it a point to stick to your recovery routine throughout the summer. This may mean attending your regular meetings, continuing therapy or treatment, or staying involved with your sponsor. Staying focused on your recovery will reduce your risk of relapse and allow you to fully integrate your new lifestyle. If you’re planning on travelling, don’t be afraid to hit some meetings while you’re away.
4. Make time for Self-Care
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities and pick up some new hobbies. Make sure you’re taking time to engage in activities that help you feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually nourished. This may mean regular exercise, sticking to a sleep schedule, or practicing mindfulness. Taking care of yourself will make it easier to stay focused on your recovery goals and will also boost your mood. Practicing self-care also means knowing when to rest. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, take some time to relax. You don’t need to accept every invitation.
5. Create New Memories
Recovery requires a willingness to change. Even if your summer vacations have “always” been the same, don’t be afraid to tweak them to support a recovery lifestyle. Making adjustments to who, how, or where you spend your time this summer is ok. Remaining stuck in old patterns for the sake of tradition or staying in high-risk situations could derail success and lead to relapse. Finding new ways to celebrate, such as volunteering or hosting a recovery-oriented get-together, will build confidence and strengthen personal recovery.
6. Relax and Have Fun
Developing hobbies and interests outside of occupational or social obligations leads to reduced stress, meeting new people, and having fun. Hobbies can include physical activities, artistic outlets, or volunteering at community organizations. In addition to promoting feelings of happiness, developing personal hobbies and interests can help to form a unique identity outside of the one developed through substance use. The goal of developing hobbies is to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, so if they start feeling like a chore, it could indicate that you’re over-extended. Take advantage of your downtime this summer and explore interests or activities that add value to your life.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use issue, help is available. Reach out to Greenbriar Treatment Center to learn how we can help. A better life is waiting…