Sober Summer: Stress in Summer?!
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy…” or so says the Gershwin tune. Many of us look forward to summer; it signifies a time of relaxing, recharging, and enjoying long weekends, much needed vacations, and time with family and friends. We look forward to the relaxed lifestyle and longer days. The reality is summer can actually be a time of increased stress. Think about it, the kids are out of school, we are busy planning vacations, attending summer social events, and family and friends are visiting. On top of this we still have our daily routines and regular work obligations. In recovery, these situations can be challenging — it is more important than ever in these times to put our recovery first. It is easy to slip into complacency and let recovery take a back seat to everything going on around us. But we must realize that our recovery program — meetings, sponsorship, volunteer work, can actually be helpful to us navigating these busy months.
The summer does present some challenges for those of us in recovery. One of the most common challenges is that we get so busy with family activities, social events, and travel that we skip our recovery meetings because we “just don’t have the time,” or we are “on vacation.” These are just excuses; they are not reasons to put our recovery on the back burner, and jeopardize our sobriety. We can always find ways to bring our program into our busy lives.
Here are a few suggestions to help keep our recovery alive during the summer months, and don’t forget, sometimes the best way to get away from some of the chaos of a family gathering is to escape to a meeting! (Click to tweet this list)
1. Get to a meeting.
There are 12-Step meetings all over the world. AA alone has millions of members worldwide. From Indiana to Indonesia, 12-step support is out there. The Internet always has an easy way to find a meeting wherever you may be on vacation. In any search engine, type in your location plus “AA,” or “NA,” or whatever type of meeting you are looking for. You can search on Google or Bing for a meeting near you, or visit one of these sites — www.aa.org, www.na.org, www.ca.org, www.alanon.org — and check their meeting lists and locators. You can also call information for the 800-hotline numbers for Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
2. Try an online recovery site.
If there are no meetings close by, or you don’t have a way to reach them, or for any extenuating circumstances, this is a way to maintain the connection. www.intherooms.org offers great recovery support and online meetings. You can also visit here for daily blogs and recovery information or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
3. Call your sponsor or a friend in recovery.
Picking up the phone is sometimes difficult to do, but it can be an incredible recovery tool. Arrange to take a break from family and meet a friend in recovery for a cup of coffee. Sometimes checking in with someone who has been there and understands and knows what we are going through is just what we need to put things in perspective.
4. Take some time for yourself.
Take a break from family and friends to decompress. Take a long walk. Relax in a quiet place with a book. Try meditation or read a spiritually inspiring book or the daily reflections. Review some 12-step readings, think about what you have accomplished in recovery. Write in a journal.
5. Start a gratitude list.
There are 93 days of summer. Every day, write down some things that you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be something monumental; it can be as simple as a great cup of coffee to start the day. At summers end, take a look at the list and it will inspire you to continue into the fall!
How do you handle summertime stress? Let us know in the comments below.
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