Kate's On-the-go sober toolkit for summer

Kate Baily | July 2022 | 8 minutes

In this blog, Kate from Love Sober offers her advice for putting together a toolkit to help you feel prepared for anything as you navigate summer alcohol-free.

The summer is lush. I’m not complaining. But it can be tricky to navigate our sobriety in the summer. Looking at the usual triggers, HALT (meaning Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired), these are essentially states of depletion which lead to imbalance and trigger us to self-soothe to meet whatever the need is. Often we do this in a maladaptive way, with many returning to drinking alcohol.

Although the lighter summer mornings beckon us out of bed and the light evenings lend themselves to socialising, we can very easily get depleted in the summer. There is a natural fiery go-go-go energy around, which would be fine if we had been hibernating all winter but since we are living in a 24/7, productivity-obsessed culture, I doubt any of us put our feet up, really. Cue those HALT states, leading to drinking triggers.

"You can say ’no’ and you are allowed to opt out, even in the summer. You get to choose."

There are many other reasons summer can be more exhausting than relaxing. If we are parents, the period of school closure can nearly break us – juggling work and family is no mean feat. And all that GUILT about having 'perfect' summers and 'making memories' certainly doesn’t help. If we’re not parents or carers, we can still feel that guilt to be making the most of summer somehow. We can easily be TOAST-ed - Thirsty, Overwhelmed, Angry, Socialised-out, and Tired. OK, I made that up. But putting my rather extreme and all-encompassing summer trigger acronym aside, how can we keep our sober cool in the heat of summer?

The On-the-go Sober Toolkit.

Planning, setting realistic expectations, factoring in downtime, self-talk, and boundaries are all important when approaching the summer. And as people who don’t drink, managing overwhelm and triggers is part of this, too. One practical way of feeling in control and like you have got this is an On-the-go Toolkit. If you feel like you’re prepared for anything, you’ll be less anxious and less likely to hit the F-it button.

This Toolkit is a bit like a nappy bag, for those who remember them... It had EVERYTHING in it. Here are some ideas for putting together your own sober version, with suggestions from some of the Love Sober Members (this list focusses heavily on sensory needs and self-regulation – feel free to adapt and change as needed to suit you and what you need the Toolkit for!):

  • Phone - with apps for sober groups, sober buddies, soothing music, breathing techniques etc.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones - possibly one of Mandy's greatest gifts to me!
  • Water/isotonic drink/alcohol-free drink
  • Emergency sweets or chocolate - for sudden low sugar moments (courtesy of Catherine & Claire in the Love Sober group)
  • Layers and big shawl scarf
  • Essential oil roll-on (courtesy of Emma Sobersonic)
  • Chewing gum, which can be good for releasing jaw tension - Jo Walduck is a fan of the jaw release!
  • Notepad and pen
  • Screensaver with Sober Mantra on it, for times when you need a reminder to keep going
  • Quit-lit (books about stopping drinking)
  • Sunglasses (whether it's bright or not)
  • Taxi or ride-hailing app on your phone so you can leave whenever you want (if you’re not driving)
  • Add your own items! Experiment and see what works for you to keep you cool, calm and collected and bossing your sobriety when things heat up.

We all have sensory needs, and becoming adept at managing them and meeting them in healthy ways is a power tool for keeping overwhelm and drinking triggers at bay when we are out and about.

Remember you can leave whenever you want, you can say ’no’ and you are allowed to opt out, even in the summer. You get to choose.

Kate is a sober coach and author. Follow her on Instagram.