When the summer season winds down, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain sobriety.
While most people prepare their minds for temptations associated with warmer months, when summer weather begins to wane, it can also lead to a dip in your mood and an increased desire to self-medicate to avoid feeling negative emotions.
Have you found yourself wondering how to stay sober when this summer comes to a close?
With a little preparation and planning, you can avoid those end-of-summer-blues and create a situation in which you not only welcome the seasons changing, but also embrace the seasonal transformation and all the beauty it inevitably brings.
Triggers in Recovery & Seasons Changing
One of the most difficult aspects of recovery is learning how to deal with triggers and understanding how the changing of the seasons can impact your substance use disorder.
Although the seasons changing can seem like a routine occurrence for most people, the seasonal adjustment can leave an individual struggling with addiction feeling unbalanced and increasingly vulnerable.
The changing of a season may dredge up old memories or leave you feeling remorseful as the colder temperatures creep in. It can also trigger feelings of depression as the days shorten and nights grow longer — driving you down a darker path that increases your desire to indulge in old, unhealthy habits.
The use of alcohol or drugs to alleviate symptoms can lead to a downward spiral during this type of seasonal adjustment, hindering your progress in rehab and causing you to feel lost and overwhelmed.
This emotional experience, also known as seasonal affective disorder, is a form of depression that changes with the seasons. Most individuals who deal with these seasonal struggles tend to experience increased relapse triggers during the fall and winter, but tend to feel better during the spring and summer months.
Although symptoms of the disorder usually don’t occur year-round, they typically begin as mild and progress throughout the season — especially around the holidays — making for an extremely difficult couple of months.1
How to Stay Sober at the End of Summer
While there is no perfect remedy to avoid the negative emotions you may encounter as the summer winds down, some tips to stay sober can include:
- Plan to Stay Active
Finding ways to keep the body and mind active as the seasons change will allow you to maintain your focus on what’s important. Yoga is an excellent exercise that strengthens your entire being while decreasing feelings of depression and anxiety associated with relapse.2
- Stay in Tune with Nature
Getting outdoors as much as possible is key as summer ends. Sunshine and fresh air are wonderful antidotes for both depression and anxiety, and they create the perfect scenario to spend time in nature to feel its healing powers.
In fact, recent studies have shown that exposure to any green space can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stress, and even high blood pressure.3
- Remember, It’s Alright to Say No
It may sound overly simple, but the difference between maintaining your sobriety and experiencing a relapse can be as easy as saying “no.” Refusing your desire to use can feel unnatural because you’re inclined to follow your addictive impulses. But preparing yourself to say no when the time arises can empower you to stand strong when the temptation to relapse occurs.4
- Focus on Your Healthy Relationships
Recent studies have shown that maintaining toxic relationships dramatically increases your chances of relapsing. To avoid these unhealthy influences and remain sober, it’s essential to develop healthy relationships that support your sobriety year-round. Spending more time with supportive loved ones can also help you develop a healthier lifestyle and avoid situations in which you could relapse.5
- Maintain a Healthy Routine
Your exercise habits, eating patterns, and sleep schedule can fall by the wayside when stress takes over. When you’re tempted to relapse and face increased emotions, your routine means the most. If the changing of the seasons increases your desire to use, settle into a healthy daily routine to keep your free time limited and your mind occupied.6
What if a Relapse Occurs During Addiction Recovery?
Regardless of the season or where you’re in your recovery journey, it’s important to remember that experiencing a relapse is not uncommon. If you find yourself in a situation in which you slip back into old habits and use, your next step is essential.
Do you give up all the progress you’ve made because of one mistake, or do you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the wagon?
Some of the most important lessons you’ll learn throughout your recovery will require you to press through difficult situations and overcome hardships. So, what should you do if you experience a relapse?
Embrace your imperfection, discuss the incident with your addiction treatment provider and get your sobriety back on track.
Holistic Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
Alcohol and drugs have no power over you. Your new life starts the moment you declare you have complete control over your actions, health and life. At Ranch Creek Recovery, we provide holistic detox and alcohol and drug recovery treatment that offers personalized and long-lasting care.
Learn more about our treatment programs, including our alcohol addiction treatment program, to start your journey toward detox and recovery.
Have questions? We’re here for you on your addiction recovery journey. Contact us today.
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1Mayo Clinic. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651.
2WebMD. Tips to Help You Stay Sober. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/tips-stay-sober#1.
3Thought Catalog. 11 Ways to Stay Sober and Avoid Self-Sabotage. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://thoughtcatalog.com/megan-starks/2017/10/11-ways-to-stay-sober-and-avoid-self-sabotage/.
4Self. How to Stay Sober in a Literal Pandemic. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.self.com/story/how-to-stay-sober.
5Sage Journals. Personal Network Recovery Enablers and Relapse Risks for Women With Substance Dependence. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1049732314551055.
6Very Well Mind. How to Stay Sober: 12 Tips for Your Recovery. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-staying-clean-and-sober-67900.