Winter is a time of year that many people find dull and boring, which makes it a dangerous time for people in recovery from addiction. The “winter blues” is a term for the mild type of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that many people struggle with in the darker, colder months. Some of the typical symptoms of the winter blues include:
- A downturn in overall mood
- Persistent fatigue
- Unusual drowsiness
- Social isolation
There are a number of factors that impact a person’s winter blues experience, but fending them off while also staying sober can be quite the challenge. One of the most effective things you can do to beat winter blues and stay sober is to keep yourself occupied with an array of engaging activities both indoors and out.
When it’s cold outside, there are usually fewer outdoor options for sober activities. For people who are used to being outside on a regular basis, this can lead to boredom and frustration if a suitable indoor slate of activities isn’t found. Try these indoor activities to occupy yourself when it’s too chilly to brave the great outdoors:
1. Cook a Great Meal
Cooking is an essential skill for everyone, and there’s always more to learn, no matter how experienced you are. Learning to cook or bake a new recipe is a great sober activity to pursue during winter, as you’ll end up with a tangible reward and some extra warmth from your stove or oven. Hearty home-cooked meals like stew can be simple to put together yet nourishing on both physical and emotional levels.
2. Have an Evening by the Fire
If you have access to a fireplace, you know how calming and enjoyable it can be to curl up in front of the flames with a book or just watch the fire as it burns down. If you want to make it a group activity, just pull up some chairs or cushions and enjoy the conversation and stories your friends have to share.
3. Play Board Games
One of the best indoor group activities during winter is playing board games, as they provide mental and social stimulation. Whether you enjoy contentious strategy games like Monopoly or prefer something a little more team-oriented like Pictionary, there are tons of options for board games that will satisfy most groups.
4. Host a Dinner Party
If you want to try out a new recipe on a few friends, hosting a dinner party can be a wonderful winter experience. You can impress by doing all the cooking yourself, or share the load and ease your stress by having friends bring some side dishes or come help with the prep work. There are many ways to set up a dinner event, and in most cases, all parties involved will end up with full stomachs and a feeling of fellowship.
5. Go Bowling
If you feel the need to do something physical, but the conditions outside aren’t right for it, bowling is a great option. Many people do it for the competition with friends, but hitting the lanes alone can be a great individual sober activity, too.
6. Go to the Library
Public libraries aren’t just a place to go and read or check out books. Many libraries, especially the larger ones, have events, activities or classes you can partake in to fill your time during the winter months. They typically teach you to make or do something new, and perhaps the best part of all is that they are often free. Check your local library’s programming to see if there is anything coming up that catches your eye.
7. Go see a Movie
While not a novel idea, going to get lost in a great comedy, action or scary movie can be a great way to enjoy time on your own or with friends.
Getting fresh air can be a challenge during winter. The lack of sunlight can worsen overall symptoms of SAD or the winter blues, making it less appealing to get out and get your blood flowing. Try the following activities individually or with friends to get in your quota of crisp winter air this season:
1. Go Ice Fishing
If your climate is cold enough, you can try embracing the chill and going ice fishing. When you’re facing an unoccupied day, the art of ice fishing with others can take your mind off of cravings you may have. Additionally, any fish you catch can be cooked up for a delicious and nutritious meal when you return to the warmth of your home.
2. Go Ice Skating or Play Hockey
There’s no activity more quintessentially wintry than ice skating on the lake or in the park, or for those a little farther south, at an ice rink. If you’ve never done it before, learning to ice skate can be a great way to get exercise and improve your coordination, whether you learn on your own, from a friend or in a class setting. If you’re more experienced and physically inclined, a spirited game of hockey can be a great way to spend a few hours and maybe even make some new friends.
3. Visit the Zoo
You may not think the zoo is a riveting adult activity, but in the winter months, many zoos have light shows at night that can change your opinion. Walking around and checking out the displays can be a great way to stimulate your senses and get some exercise in. Add in some hot chocolate, and you’ve got an experience that may be surprisingly fun and fulfilling, whether you’re in a group or by yourself.
4. Take a Walk
You may not be able to go hiking if things get too cold or too icy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stretch your legs and get some fresh air with a simple walk. Whether you take a short turn around your neighborhood or want to explore a new part of your nearest city, taking a brisk walk and getting cool winter air into your lungs can be an invigorating way to spend a few minutes or hours.
Get Support From AppleGate Recovery
Making a list of sober winter activities is an excellent way to stop the symptoms of the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder from negatively impacting your recovery. At AppleGate Recovery, we understand that addiction is a disease that requires active management, and our office-based opioid treatment program (OBOT) is built around this concept.
If you or a loved one need help overcoming opioid abuse and addiction, AppleGate Recovery is ready to help. To learn more about our personalized addiction treatment plans, call us at 888.488.5337 or reach out online by filling out our contact form.