Summertime in Iowa
The summer months in Iowa can be a wonderful time of traveling, festivals, outdoor sports, barbecues, and unstructured fun. For someone in recovery, however, many of these activities bring triggers or memories of a less-than-sober lifestyle.
Staying sober through the summer won’t be easy. However, with perseverance, a plan, and a good support system, you can stay the course and remain relapse-free!
Practice Healthy Living 101
Who says that embracing a healthy lifestyle has to be a New Year’s resolution? You can start—or maintain—that goal at any time.
Eating healthily is easier in the summertime, with gardens and farmer’s markets full of wonderful fresh produce. Grilling and barbecues are actually a very healthy way to cook food. There is little fat in any meats, as it drips off while cooking, and roasting veggies will make them even tastier. The seasonings add flavor without using salt if you’re concerned about your sodium intake.
Warm weather also makes it easier to get those recommended glasses of water in. This also gives you a good excuse to pass on the alcohol by choosing water or a fruit juice instead.
Warm weather is more conducive to outdoor activities, sports, and keeping fit. Even walking is much more enjoyable (and safer) when there isn’t snow on the ground!
Kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from summer sports leagues. There are many opportunities for adults as well. From low-impact water aerobics or simply swimming laps at the local swimming pool to softball leagues, there are activities for every age and skill level. There are also fun runs, 5Ks, and tournaments for non-profit groups and city celebrations. These not only give you the chance to be active, but also to help raise money for the community or a cause close to you.
Revamp Your Indoor Oasis
When the heat gets to be too much or a summer storm rains out your activity for the day, take it inside. Re-organize your closet and donate things you no longer enjoy (or that no longer fit) to a local thrift store. You’ll find things you’d forgotten about, get rid of things you won’t wear, and give someone else the benefit of your gently-used items.
The clutter-clearing doesn’t have to end at a closet, either! Clean out the fridge and pantry, checking all the expiration dates. Put the things that expire soon near the front so they get used up first. Give yourself a schedule for grocery shopping, making weekly menus, and food prep so your healthy lifestyle is just as easy as turning to that box of Hamburger Helper.
Rearranging furniture, finding a unique piece at a garage sale, or even just adding a few plants can brighten a room. Get creative and find a craft or art piece to make. Something as simple as stenciling a positive affirmation on a canvas can bring you pride and confidence every time you read it after it’s been hung on the wall. Take a class by yourself or with friends to learn a new art technique or create something to display. Expressing yourself through art can be very therapeutic to those in recovery!
Rejuvenate and Relax
Summer is a great time to dive into gratefulness. Start a gratitude journal or practice meditation focused on gratitude to set a positive tone for your day.
As you become more grateful for the little things in each day, you will discover your patience growing and your ability to deal with others expanding as well. This creates a chance to strengthen your relationships with loved ones. Commit to building honest, kind, and constant communication.
Practice random acts of kindness, not just to people you know but strangers as well. A compliment, holding a door, or picking up something dropped is easy and can brighten both your days!
As part of your gratitude and mood-changing habits to pick up this summer, add a few books to the mix. Maybe it’s a book recommended by someone here at St. Gregory Recovery Center of Iowa, a book mentioned online by another person in recovery, or something you saw advertised. Maybe it’s the next in a series by a favorite author or a book club selection. Give yourself over to stepping into the world inside those pages. Whether you sit down for an hour on a rainy evening, read a paragraph each morning over coffee, or listen to an audiobook on your morning commute, expanding your literary horizons can be quite enjoyable.
Don’t Go It Alone
If you’re attending any event or activity where you might be tempted, have a plan and rely on your support system. Whether it’s a therapist, counselor, family member, or friend, having someone to hold you accountable and be there with reassurance is more beneficial than most people realize.
Barbecues are just as fun with a soda in your hand as they were with a beer. Any activity is likely just as fun (and much safer) when you’re not under the influence of addictive substances. Boating, grilling, bicycling, hiking, camping, and fishing are all safer without perception-altering drugs or alcohol.
Once you step out of addiction by centering on health and gratitude, you can focus on the things and people that are important in your life. Don’t let the fear of relapse ruin your summer fun. Have a plan, create a schedule, cultivate gratitude, and utilize your support system to make this summer one to remember.