Spring is around the corner, and with this season comes new beginnings as our world begins to blossom. During the fall and winter months, the days were shorter and provided less sunlight, and many people dealt with harsh weather that may have kept them indoors. Karen Morin, risk reduction coordinator for the Maine Army National Guard, explains that during seasonal shifts such as this healthy activities can get pushed to the side while getting out and interacting becomes tough, and isolation becomes a real challenge. Morin recommends creating lists of alternative activities and encourages “reaching out to peers and other support services if they are struggling.” Morin notes, “The good to come out of the pandemic is there are now a lot of resources available via the internet, and connection is key to keeping safe and sober.”
Since winter is ending soon, now is the time to spring forward into sobriety by taking the appropriate steps to tackle harmful drinking habits. Here are Morin’s recommendations for enjoying your community and the outdoors during spring while staying sober.
1. Make a list and have a plan. It is important to make a list and have a plan. Your plan may include only a couple of items. Don’t take on too much—small goals lead to better success. Make connections with others who have similar goals, and learn from them and their successes. Be mindful of stressors that can get in the way of success.
2. Join an exercise group. Exercise releases endorphins to the body. This boost in endorphins helps to promote sobriety and a healthy lifestyle. Low-intensity and high-intensity workouts can positively affect recovery by enabling you to maintain your physical and mental health.
3. Join a club. Whether it be a club that connects you with those who have walked the same path or one that teaches you something new or entails a former or current hobby, a social group in your local community or online will help banish boredom and provide an alcohol-free activity.
4. Volunteer. Volunteering and helping others have been proved to give people a sense of accomplishment. Donating your time and talent allows you to feel good about your identity. Both the Army and your community have plenty of volunteer opportunities to keep you active and engaged.
5. Clean and organize outdoor space. When items are not cluttered, it creates a sense of peace and reduces anxiety. Anxiety often triggers misuse. Get out of the winter hibernation mode and take advantage of the outdoors and nice weather by accomplishing some spring cleaning.
As for advice to the Army community about alcohol and substance misuse prevention, Morin says: “Recognize that we are human; we do not need to be identified by our mistakes or issues. We have the ability to overcome; be kind to yourself.” Morin notes that the important message is that the Army Substance Abuse Program and its staff are here to help you get back to being the ready and resilient Soldier that you are.
The Army Resilience Directorate website, https://www.armyresilience.army.mil/ASAP/ index.html, offers additional resources that Soldiers and Family members can use to help them cope with alcohol and substance misuse.