The Best Sober Summer Activities

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Playtime isn’t just for kids—adults need to have fun regularly for the sake of their social, physical, and mental well-being. Luckily, the medical world takes play seriously, and extensive efforts have been made to research the neurological, emotional, and physical benefits of play in both children and adults. The findings on fun are overwhelmingly supportive of play practices in adults. Check them out:

  • Play facilitates and deepens learning
  • Human beings need play throughout the entirety of their lives to maintain emotional, physical, and mental balance and to enhance well-being
  • All mammals are programmed to play
  • Play often prompts or causes laughter
  • Fun is experienced uniquely, not uniformly—meaning what’s fun for one person may not feel fun to another

How can you infuse your adult life with more fun? It’s quite simple. First, try pinpointing your play personality. Maybe you like collecting, competing, creating, directing, exploring, joking, moving, or storytelling. Go with what feels fun and then actually try it out. 

How Play Can Benefit Your Sobriety

Making time for play may be especially important for those in addiction recovery. Play prompts emotional regulation and problem-solving. Learning to navigate the many lifestyle changes that sobriety requires can quickly lead to discouragement and frustration—which, if not dealt with, can lead to relapse. Play helps people get perspective on stressful times and motivates them to employ resilience. 

When we think of fun as a way to train our brains, it becomes a great supplement to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Through engaging in regular fun, we’re training our brains to interpret and mitigate stress patiently and with levity. We don’t default to negative thinking as easily. This sense of optimism can help newly sober individuals manage triggers and relapse events

With regular play, you begin to anticipate a feeling of balance, calm, and joy as daily standards. This helps you set an overall tone for your sobriety, which should include putting yourself, your needs, and your enjoyment first—all with the freedom that comes when you eliminate drugs and alcohol from the picture. 

Play helps us take things less seriously, which can make it easier to get along with people and stay even-keeled in arguments. Other awesome benefits of regular fun include the following:

  • Figurative and physical flexibility, as fun activities often require you to step outside of your headspace, think differently than you typically word, and move around.
  • Empathy, as interacting with others during play prompts conversations, friendship, and the opportunity to help someone rise to higher levels in certain activities.
  • A feeling of belonging, as many fun pastimes for adults are done in groups—you can create communities around fun. 
  • Learning and trust, as play makes life feel more like a playground filled with learning opportunities and less like a battlefield on which you’re obligated to prove yourself.

The Best Sober Summer Fun Activities in Des Moines 

If you’re into stretching your legs out in nature, visit Jester Park—where you can see live buffalo—or Ledges State Park, which is just a short drive from Des Moines. Ashby Park also has tennis courts, while Raccoon River Park has a little gem of a beach accessible to visitors. There’s also the Butterfly Garden at Saylorville for the winged-bug nerds out there. For more tactile people, and especially for kids, the summer berry-picking possibilities in Iowa seem endless! Lastly, The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden offers beautiful views no matter the season. 

The Best Sober Summer Fun Activities in Bayard 

Bayard brings the best of small-town fun to all of its residents. You can plan your first romantic sober summer date at the Whiterock Conservancy Starfield or hit the Whiterock Conservancy Equestrian Trails. Bayard is also home to lovely little cottages that you can rent, like the Rookery Cottage or Betts Farmhouse. Great fishing spots and famous food from La Terraza Mexican restaurant are in no short supply either. 

If you have questions about how to support your sobriety with fun, contact our St. Gregory team.

Our graduates tell their stories…

When first arriving at St. Gregory I had mixed feelings about the health and wellness workouts. I came in at 136 lbs and didn’t think it was possible to reach...
- Chris
The good life is not merely a life free from addictions, physical and/or psychological—addictions that usually are the outward manifestations of deeper problems—but a life lived in harmonious balance, free...
- Matt
I came to St. Gregory’s at my all-time worst—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having gone through a bad rehab experience once before, I had been very reluctant in succumbing to that...
- CJ
No matter where I start my thought process when reflecting upon my time before, during and after St. Gregory’s, I always seem to end up in the same place in...
- Kaele


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