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A couple snowshoeing in wintertime.

Enjoyable Things to Do When Sober: 40 Winter Activities

For many reasons, wintertime can be particularly challenging for those in addiction recovery. You see less and less of the sun each day and are forced to stay indoors at times, making you vulnerable to winter blues. You’re excited about seeing family and friends but at the same time agitated about the thought of being near alcohol or drugs at holiday parties.

All of this can be overwhelming and may trigger negative coping behaviours that increase the risk of relapse. But this does not have to be the case. There are countless ways to embrace this season as a time to get to know yourself better, discover new possibilities, and reconnect with the healing power of nature.

Here are 40 exciting sober winter activities that are worth trying out:

1. Ice Fishing

Canada is blessed with many ice fishing destinations, such as Muskoka Lakes (only a two-hour drive from Toronto), Athapapuskow Lake in Manitoba, and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. It’s one of the most popular sober winter activities that you can participate in.

A man ice fishing in a frozen lake.

2. Winter Walking or Hiking

Put on your snow boots and go on a leisurely walk around your neighbourhood for some early morning cardio and fresh air.

3. Take Ice Skating Lessons

Put your skills to the test at the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, the largest skating rink in the country.

4. Light Up a Bonfire

While you’re trying to keep warm this winter season, you might as well roast sausages and marshmallows on an open fire.

5. Go On An Unforgettable Dog Sledding Adventure

Many provinces in Canada offer dogsledding as a thrilling recreational activity at several tourist attractions in Toronto, Alberta, Yukon, Nunavut, and many more. Don’t forget to select a tour provider that treats their animals ethically.

6. Snuggle On the Couch and Watch Your Favourite Holiday Movies

Home Alone, The Grinch, Love Actually, The Holiday, Gremlins, Die Hard, Klaus – the feel-good list goes on and on!

7. Learn How to Make Different Types of Coffee

– Or any hot beverage like cider, hot chocolate, or fancy tea!

8. Call to Check On a Friend or Family Member

FaceTime or Zoom are great tools at your disposal to check in with family or friends at least once a week.

9. Read Christmas or Winter-themed Books

Which books make you feel excited about the holidays? A Christmas Carol, Letters from Father Christmas, A Christmas Memory, and Harry Potter, perhaps?

10. Go Out and Have a Cup of Coffee and Desserts

Make a trip to your favourite cafe – or try a new one in your area!

11. Shovel Your Driveway

This can be done every day as a form of exercise to keep your body and mind busy.

12. Bake Cookies to Give Away or Keep For Your Stash

Baking can be therapeutic for many people because it encourages mindfulness, diverts your attention to something productive, and rewards you with instant gratification.

13. Snowball Fight

Channel your inner child and invite your friends to a snowball fight.

14. Have a Blast Tobogganing on Snow-covered Slopes

It’s one of the many sober winter activities you can enjoy with friends or your family.

15. Set Up Holiday Decorations

This includes lighting scented candles that remind you of the holidays to put you in a cheerful mood.

16. Go On a Trip to a Popular Ski Resort

Whether you love skiing or just need a little winter escape, this should be on your list of sober winter activities.

17. Experience a Magical Night at Hotel de Glace in Quebec

The only ice hotel in all of North America.

18. Go On a Train Trip Across the Country

When we talk about fun things do when sober in the wintertime, going on a train trip across the country and admiring the majesticness of the snow-capped Canadian Rockies shouldn’t be left out!

19. Binge-watch Your Favourite Television Series

While you sip on hot chocolate.

20. Check Out the Winter Lights Festival in Your Province

21. See Your Favourite Hockey Team Play

Sports events are always full of energy and are a great way to support your local team!

22. Visit the Frozen Niagara Falls

Get a glimpse of its winter wonderland transformation – it’s even more magical this time of year.

23. Play Pond Hockey

This fun sport takes place over frozen ponds and is easily played with your friends. Enjoying the great outdoors is one of the best sober winter activities.

24. Pamper Yourself

Splurge at a local hot spring or spa with your closest friends for a holiday treat to yourself.

25. Try Snow-shoeing

This activity is a type of hiking that involves wearing outdoor footgear especially designed to distribute your body weight evenly to traverse knee-deep snow without sinking.

26. Volunteer to Foster a Pet for the Holiday Season

Fostering is a rewarding experience that helps keep a dog off the streets and helps them get acclimated to living with a loving individual before finding their forever home.

27. Take a Mandatory Social Media Break

Despite its many perks, the internet also has its pitfalls. Whether it’s random advertisements or a shared photo of old pals on a night out, you never know what could be emotionally triggering for someone in recovery.

28. Deep Clean and Declutter Your Home

Decluttering allows you to become more mindful. Letting go of unnecessary material possessions promotes a positive mood and also has emotionally healing benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety.

29. Volunteer Your Time

This can be done at your local community’s animal shelter, soup kitchen, or anywhere else you’re passionate about supporting their cause.

30. Attend a Virtual Meeting of Your Local Support Group

If you’re feeling a little trapped or lonely during the holiday season, check in with your local support groups and/or attend a virtual meeting.

31. Cuddle With Your Significant Other (or Fur Baby)

Everyone needs a little extra support and love during the winter months! In fact, hugs actually release oxytocin, a hormone that relieves stress and boosts heart health.

A cozy photo of a person cuddling with their puppy with a hot cup of cocoa, journal, and a laptop.

32. Indulge in Warm Baths Infused With Epsom salt

Epsom salt can help detoxify the body and ease the stress after a long and exhausting day.

33. Learn How to Knit an Ugly Christmas Sweater

We’ve found some DIY tutorials online to give you a headstart.

34. Plant a Winter Garden

Here is a list of houseplants that can survive with low light – perfect for your windowsill in the wintertime!

35. Get a Heated Blanket

It’s going to change your life!

36. Winterproof Your Home

Keep yourself busy by winterizing your windows and doors or stocking up on wood and food.

37. Build a Snowman

Don’t wait to be asked like in the Disney movies; you know you want to build a snowman.

38. Chase the Northern Lights

Canadians are fortunate to have access to the best times (September to March) and spots (i.e. Whitehorse in Yukon, Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, and Churchill in Manitoba) to see the incredible aurora borealis during winter.

39. Create a Hygge Home

This is the Danish and Norwegian practice of coziness, calmness, and contentment.

40. Host a Safe and Sober Holiday Party

Instead of dreading parties that may serve alcohol, host your own safe and sober party instead.

A sober Christmas party with loved ones.

We’re Here for You: Continuing Care With Freedom From Addiction

After participating in all these emotionally rewarding things to do when sober, you’ll realize the cold season isn’t all that bad. These sober winter activities prove that life is full of exciting possibilities, so make the most out of it!

On the same note, addiction recovery is a work in progress, and there is no shame in admitting that you need help at any point. At Freedom From Addiction, we offer continuous support and personalized relapse prevention strategies to help guide patients towards a blissful and sober life. Most of these are outpatient treatment programs that still enable you to accommodate your work, school, or other personal schedules.

This includes the following:

For more information about our services, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team is available 24/7 to assist you. Contact us today!

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