If you are new to recovery, summer may feel unsettling and uncomfortable without alcohol and/or other drugs, especially if you used these substances to relax during active addiction. If this is the case, you are not alone. Many feel that the first step to relaxation is to pour themselves a drink, roll a joint, or take a pill.
The fact is, however, that drinking and drug use do not do much to help you relax and can actually increase stress levels and tension due to lowered immune system, poor choices while under the influence, and accidents while intoxicated.
The good news is that relaxation is actually easier and longer lasting when you skip alcohol and drugs, and focus on wellness. Here are just a few ways you can truly relax this summer, with no substances at all:
Head outside. There are countless things you can have more fun doing in the summer weather, and it is better if you are not under the influence, at the very least, for safety’s sake. Go kayaking, standup paddle boarding, surfing, or rock climbing – or learn how to do any of those things. At the very least, pack a deck of cards and a swimsuit, and go car camping at the nearest lake. Just being outside can be relaxing, especially if you have nothing pressing to do.
Try a new holistic therapy. The summer is a great time to take yoga outside, practice tai chi in the park, or join a sports therapy session or other adventure and outdoors therapy. Commit to engaging in enough sessions to get through the summer and then decide whether or not you would like to continue the new therapy when the weather gets colder.
Go to the library. There are almost always great reading challenges for adults as well as kids, group meetings, author talks, and more at the library. Even if you have never been much of a reader, what do you have to lose? Go pick up the book that formed the basis for your favorite new summer movie release. Pick a genre and binge read your way through. Join a reading group and read something you may never have otherwise considered.
Check out summer music festivals. At the beach or lake, at the local park, music festivals large and small – Louisiana is a great place for music, and you do not have to look far to find new bands or see your favorites. Just make sure to bring a few sober friends with you to help you stay sober even when you are surrounded by people who are under the influence.
Hit the farmers’ market. Farmers’ markets are everywhere in the summer. They are a great place to wander leisurely while shopping for fresh, local vegetables, eggs, and other foods. Try different cuisines, listen to great music, and take the time to just be outside.
Go to the pool. Find a community pool, a neighborhood pool, or a local center, and go every day. There are many therapeutic effects of swimming regularly, not to mention a great workout. Not only do you feel relaxed while you are doing it, but it can contribute to an overall feeling of relaxation throughout the day.
Meditate. It’s free, flexible, and can be done just about anywhere. Meditation is a great way to relax any time of year, but during the summer, you can take it outside. Head out to a great view, your favorite park, or the water – wherever you feel most calm, centered, and focused.
Enjoy the swamp. There are few things more relaxing than a gentle kayak or boat trip out in your favorite swamp, with the trees dripping moss into the still, calm water. Rent a boat and head out on your own, or join a guided tour and get to know a new area you’ve never seen.
Spend time with sober friends. Spending time doing pretty much anything with positive people who make you feel confident and strong in your sobriety is a great way to spend any day. In fact, even if the situation is not so relaxing, it will be much easier to handle when you have good people by your side helping you to stay sober. Call the people you meet in recovery before you head to the farmers’ market, see a movie, go for a swim, or check out a new kind of therapy. Familiar faces and people who make you laugh make every situation more relaxing.
How will you relax in recovery this summer?