By: Stephanie Thomas
Tell me: What’s the first song that comes to mind when you think of summer?
My thoughts begin and end with The Beach Boys — including a quick detour to celebrate the last day of school with Alice Cooper. Maybe you’re cooler than me, humming Summer Love by JT.
Either way, expectations are set. When summer comes, you’d better have yourself a good time.
What should you do then, when halfway through summer you look up and realize you’re not having a good time? Perhaps you’re also in the process of recovering from an addiction and struggling with a particular type of summertime blues, where feelings of loneliness abound.
First, you’re not alone. And second, we’d love to help.
Where the Summer Sun Don’t Shine
The carefree days of summer bring with them all kinds of daydreams — around the pool with friends, at the beach with loved ones, inside with a good book or outside with a tasty picnic.
Unfortunately, the promise of adventure often stands in stark contrast to the picture of reality. Busy schedules are to blame for many adults, but for those in recovery another obstacle blocks the way to a good time.
That’s because many summer gatherings include the consumption of alcohol. If you’re working to maintain recovery, you may feel ostracized in a group of people sporting red solo cups. And so maybe you decide to stay home.
And when you’re home, you may find yourself scrolling through Instagram — full of smiling faces and a world of people having fun with their friends and their drinks. The temptation may be to crawl further into a hole, to bury your head in the sand until summer ends.
So, what are some ways to avoid loneliness and power through this difficult season? After all, as Dr. Jeremy Nobel, founder of the UnLonely Project says, “Loneliness saps vitality, impairs productivity and diminishes enjoyment of life.” He also states that loneliness is as damaging to one’s health as alcohol abuse and connected with a greater risk for early death.1
Dr. Nobel goes on to explain that “Social connections, in a very real way, are keys to happiness and health.” Your efforts toward connecting with yourself and others won’t be wasted!1
Let’s talk about what those efforts might look like.
How to Round Out Summer With Your Best Interests in Mind
Want to finish summer strong and find a cure for the summertime blues, if you will? Give these ideas a try:
- Put yourself out there. Running a few errands? Invite a friend along. Get word of an event you’d like to attend? Go! Worried you’ll be the only one not drinking? Ask around — you might be pleasantly surprised.
- Build routine into routine-less days. Ditch the carefree life if it doesn’t work for you. Try scheduling Saturday morning hikes, weekly phone calls with your mom, Thursday night dates with your spouse or Sunday afternoon farmers’ market runs.
- Decide to be OK with being alone. Time alone can be a gift if you treat it as one. Invest in a hobby you enjoy, see a movie no one else wants to see or work on a skill that could improve your career.2
- Spend more time with your closest companions. Think quality over quantity. Host dinner at your home every Friday night with the sole goal of connecting over the table.2
- Give yourself a few things to look forward to. Create an end-of-summer bucket list. You can think big or small, and be sure to display your list in a prominent place in your home.2
1 Brody, Jane E.To Counter Loneliness, Find Ways to Connect. The New York Times, June 25, 2018.
2 Sarantopoulou, Vassia. Why Does it Feel More Lonely in the Summer? The Anti-Loneliness Project, June 26, 2016.