With lifted mandates and restrictions, the country is slowly opening back up and just in time for summer. Have you thought about how you’ll fill your free time now that you’ve committed to sobriety? Whether you’ve completed residential in-patient treatment, an outpatient program, or have done the hard work on your own, plan to leave old habits and negative influences behind. If you previously thought it was impossible to have fun in an environment that didn’t include alcohol or drugs, it’s important to reframe your thinking. Be open to discovering a new hobby or revisiting a passion—there are so many ways to stay sober this summer and still have a great time.
1. Stay Sober this Summer by Beginning an Exercise Program
Whether it’s yoga, running, biking, or walking, exercise can improve both your physical and mental health. A recent study revealed that regular activity could help you find a sense of purpose.  One of the study authors stated that people who begin and stick to an exercise program develop a stronger belief that they can set goals and follow through. Summer is the perfect season to increase your physical activity and a great excuse to get outdoors.
2. It’s Safe to Travel Again
Explore your own neighborhood by checking out a local farmer’s market or take a trip to a nearby city to visit the local attractions. And, if your budget allows, travel even further to learn about different cultures. Experiencing new things can improve your mental health, and travel has been found to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Go solo or travel with a trusted friend or family member to deepen your relationship.
3. Volunteering Can Help You as Well as Others
Giving to others is a powerful way to create meaning in your life. It’s also a great way to make new friends and expand your support network. Look for opportunities that align with your passions or skills. Do you know anything about building and construction? Volunteer at your local Habitat for Humanity. Want to support and mentor a child? Find out how to become a Big Brother or Big Sister. When you spend time working to support another person or impact your local community, it helps you recognize your sense of worth and value to the world around you.
4. Connect with Nature
Spending time outdoors can improve your well-being by reducing anger, fear, and stress. Nature also increases pleasant feelings. Create a backyard garden, go on a hike, or walk on the beach at an early hour. Quiet the noise in your head and simply take in your environment. It’s a healing and refreshing activity.
5. Redefine your Definition of Being Social
Summer is known for picnics, backyard barbecues, and social gatherings that often include alcohol. It’s a big risk to your recovery to spend time in these types of environments. Establish or join a support group that plans activities excluding harmful and addictive substances, or host your own party and serve these delicious “mocktails.” You’ll soon learn that you can have fun and make connections without falling back into old habits. It’s all about creating new patterns in your life.
Do you Want to Stay Sober this Summer but Need Support?
If you’re still struggling with addiction and don’t feel ready to navigate your summer without help, Ocean Hills Recovery can provide the tools you need to succeed. Our caring staff has the knowledge and expertise to guide your journey to sobriety and teach you how to avoid relapse. We have helped so many people learn how to find joy and purpose in their lives, and we can do the same for you. Get in touch with us to schedule a consultation, and we’ll design a customized program for you.
 Yemiscigil, A., Vlaev, I. The bidirectional relationship between sense of purpose in life and physical activity: a longitudinal study. J Behav Med (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-021-00220-2
 Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(1), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15010130
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.