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Six Tips for a Sober Summer

The Sober Circle is back! A few weeks ago, I sat down with some of my favorite people to talk about being sober through the summer. We caught it all on my latest podcast.

Hey! I see your face. It's kind of like that "deer in the headlights" look that I've got in this pic. It's a mixture of incredulity and fear, and dare I say it, conviction?

Hear me out! It is possible to be Sober for the summer. Years ago, I would have said the same thing you are thinking. "Summer and drinking just go together. It's literally how you have fun. Maybe I'll stop drinking after Labor Day."

But you know what they say; you only live once. And when you're drinking, you're not really living. Trust me. Summer is better sober. I'll show you... read on.

Sober/Not Sober

The Sober Circle (this time it was Debbie, Kali, Terri, Michelle, Lynne, and me), talked about our not-so-sober summer experiences and compared them with our sober summers. Here are a few themes that came out of our discussion.

Non-So-Sober Summer
Sober Summer

Short days (Happy Hour could start at 2pm or earlier).

More time in the day. Literally. Able to get up early, have devotions, walk on the beach, run errands, hang out, work on a project - sometimes all in one day!

You think, "Where did my summer go?" at the end because you spent so much time in a fog.

Lasting memories. You have the headspace to plan things or be spontaneous and really enjoy things.

Trunk loads full of booze. Coolers full of booze. Sneaking booze into unlabeled (or falsely labeled) containers.

More money (think of how much all those drinks cost!!!), more space in the cooler. Less time packing for trips.

People looking at you the next day like, "Wow." And you're not sure why. Cue the shame.

Wake up shame-free knowing where you are, where your stuff is, what you ate last night, what you said and did.

A bunch of unfinished projects.

Organized, clean spaces. Getting things checked off the list.

What people? Parties and events were more about when/what/how much I could drink.

Deeper conversations with people you love. Being more vulnerable. Laughing about subtle things that you miss when you're numbed out.


Campfires and s'mores, beach days, family vacations, hiking trails, swimming, brunches, picnics, long walks, cool bike rides, theme parks, family games...

So... no, it's not going to hold you back from anything this summer.

Somebody needed to hear that. I mean that's what we all thought before we stopped drinking. But I picked out a few quotes from our conversation that kind of sum up how we felt after our first sober summers:

"I can't believe I chose that [drinking] every day."
"I felt like I had a superpower, [I was so productive]."
"Mornings are a gift."
"I feel like a kid again."
"I'm so much happier sober."

And if you still can't imagine it, just trust us. Summer is better sober.

Now, let's get practical.

We don't want you to run around thinking the first minute you stop drinking you'll be in some sort of perfect world with perfect weather and never be tempted to drink again. Here are six tips that helped us get through our first sober summers:

  1. Find people who are sober and having fun. Take the leap of just being with them, and doing what they're doing. You'll have fun too! Plus, hanging out with your old drinking buddies (who are still drinking) won't likely end well.

  2. Set your expectations properly. I thought I'd be running every morning, doing yoga on a paddle board, and playing tennis. Um. I never did that even before drinking. I really needed to have a plan in place and to build up to those types of things.

  3. Be careful about social media. Seeing photos and videos of people drinking can trigger temptation. Fight that mental battle by thinking through what the after picture could be. For example - consider how they'll feel (and what they'll look like) tomorrow after they've been drinking all day.

  4. Appreciate the simplicity. Alcohol complicates so many things that it might almost feel too simple now. But don't allow yourself to get bored. Being sober means that you're not afraid people will disrupt your drinking plans or find out how much you're drinking. This freedom allows you to be more spontaneous - like going out for brunch with a friend, doing a fire pit, a quick trip to the beach, whatever.

  5. Do things that bring you joy (not guilt). Biking is that for me - I feel like I'm flying (and by the way, biking is way easier sober, in case you were wondering). Remember when you were a kid? You could be happy just eating ice pops, playing outside, or splashing in the water. Remember what brings you joy and try it!

  6. Know that it's still not perfect. Sometimes it will rain. Sometimes you will still get hurt or feel pain and need to work through stuff. That's okay. Don't believe the lie that you need alcohol to escape. Pray, quote scripture, or call a friend first.

I'm so glad to be experiencing life sober. I mean really feeling all the joy and even the pain. When I was drinking, my kids were growing up, and I feel like I missed precious moments with them. I can't get those back. But I can make new ones. For example, I'll be hanging with these munchkins at the pool this summer. ♥

Just think how much you have to look forward to! And it all starts with just not drinking.



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