If you’ve considered giving up alcohol, this is your sign to do so! You might be familiar with Dry January, but Sober October is another opportunity to join thousands of others in the UK in avoiding alcohol.
Whether you want to help fundraise or challenge yourself to be healthier, a month of sobriety can really have a positive impact. In this article, we’ll be highlighting what Sober October is all about, the benefits of taking part and offer tips for staying sober afterwards (sobriety doesn’t just have to be for a month!).
Please note: it’s important to remember that if you think you’re dependent on alcohol, going cold turkey could be dangerous. If you drink regularly and wish to stop, you should consult your GP first so that you can get the support you need to give up alcohol safely.
Sober October is a 31-day challenge which involves giving up alcohol for the entire month. Many people will participate as a means to fundraise for the Macmillan Cancer Support charity but going alcohol-free has so many health benefits for you personally too.
There really are so many benefits of giving up alcohol and joining in with Sober October. You’ll have a clearer head and more energy, which means you can invest your time in becoming fitter and healthier. You might decide it’s time to head to the gym or be more active, or perhaps you’ll feel more motivated to learn healthy new recipes.
Moreover, avoiding alcohol will lower your risk of developing health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, infertility and some cancers.
Anyone can join in with Sober October, but many people also choose to take part in the name of charity so they can raise money for their hard efforts. Macmillan launched their Sober October campaign in 2014 and since this time have raised over £33 million pounds. Not only will this help out a great cause, you may feel more motivated to stay on track because you’re not just going alcohol-free for you, you’re doing it for others too.
If you’re planning to raise money for charity, don’t forget to set up an online giving page in advance - you can do this after signing up to the Sober October site and creating your own profile page.
Whilst drinking alcohol can make you feel more relaxed and sleepy (due to it being an antidepressant which slows down your brain’s activity), research indicates that drinking alcohol (especially in high amounts) is actually linked to poor quality of sleep, less hours of sleep, insomnia and it can even worsen sleep apnea (Sleep Foundation).
With research suggesting that the average household in the UK spends around £17.60 on alcohol each week (which amounts to £915 in a year), you could save a significant amount of money during Sober October.
Whether you head to the pub a couple of times a week or you drink in your own home to unwind, the time you spend drinking could be better spent and you won’t have to worry about those debilitating hangovers! Why not attend a new fitness class in the evening or take the family out for some fun activities instead?
Drinking alcohol can lead to weight gain or make the process of slimming down much more difficult. It’s important to remember that alcoholic drinks can contain a high number of calories and cutting down on your alcohol consumption could help you to reach your weight loss goals.
You won’t be the only one participating in Sober October, and there'll be plenty of online groups you can join in on to share your progress and get advice from others who are taking part.
Making the decision to stop drinking is the first step, but actually seeing through a whole month without drinking is a fantastic achievement, especially if you’ve raised money for charity in the process. By staying sober for this amount of time, you may feel more confident to continue your great work which will lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Having a month away from alcohol will help you to think more clearly and you can use this time to think about your alcohol intake and how they impact your life. Notice how you’re feeling within yourself and consider the benefits of abstaining from alcohol.
Whether going to a pub or seeing bottles of wine in the kitchen tempts you into drinking alcohol, notice what situations trigger you and try your best to avoid them. For example, instead of joining a friend in a pub, why not arrange an activity such as going to the cinema or playing golf together instead?
Keeping yourself distracted means you’ll have less time to be thinking about alcohol. Why not challenge yourself to read more and immerse yourself in a story or learn a new skill?
Being active is another great way to keep yourself focused on something aside from your cravings - plus, you’ll get all the benefits that come with exercising more (weight loss, more energy and lower risk of developing some health issues such as heart disease).
Many people turn to alcohol as a means to manage stress or cope with a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression. Whilst alcohol can make you feel more relaxed, it’s important to remember that its effects are only temporary, and do not help you to deal with the bigger issue. In fact, alcohol can increase anxiety and depression. Try to learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga or meditation so that you don’t reach for alcohol in your time of need.
It can be super helpful keeping a diary where you log your progress and feelings. You’ll be able to keep track of your sobriety (noting any occasions where you did drink alcohol and why) as well as any changes in your mood or physical health. You can then look back at your diary entries and reflect on how far you’ve come to motivate you to continue.
Giving up alcohol isn’t always easy, especially if you’re used to drinking regularly - so don’t be too hard on yourself if you do slip up along the way. Obviously your goal is to abstain from alcohol for at least a month, but rather than throwing in the towel after a mistake, learn from it. Ask yourself why you struggled to say no to alcohol on that occasion and get back on track. It might help to remind yourself of why you’ve stopped drinking; whether you’re looking to improve your health or giving up to spend more time with your family, don’t lose sight of your motivations and use this to propel you forward.
Made it past your first week? Great! Gone 3 weeks sober? Also great! You should be very proud of yourself for remaining alcohol-free and rising to the challenge, so make sure you celebrate your progress, no matter how big or small the milestone is! Just make sure you celebrate in a healthy way (i.e. not with a drink!) to keep you on the right path.
You don’t have to go through this journey alone and there are many support systems in place in the UK which will help you to stay sober. Different places you can get support are:
Ready for the challenge? Get ready to join in with Sober October by ditching the booze and removing temptation from your home. Giving up alcohol may not be easy for you, but the rewards that await will make the task worth it!
Don’t forget that if you’re a Dorset resident, you can get support from our expert coaches and advisors. Simply register with us today or get in touch with our team who will be more than happy to help.