Every year, as the leaves turn from lush green to fiery shades of red and orange, many people around the world embark on a transformative journey known as “Sober October.” It is an annual challenge which encourages individuals to abstain from alcohol and, in some cases, other toxins (or bad habits) for the entire month of October.
Now, we know that alcohol is not all evil and there are benefits to having it. So, this isn’t one of those articles where we condemn drinking altogether. Having a glass of wine here and there is said to be beneficial for your health. An occasional drink is good to help relax and unwind, especially if you are going through a stressful time. And let’s not forget the social aspect. A pint of beer is an excellent excuse to bond with work colleagues. But then of course, the more you drink the more the negatives will creep up- hangovers are nothing pleasant, you can become sluggish and less productive. Over time alcohol can have a very negative effect on your body and soul.
The concept of abstaining from alcohol for a designated time is not new. There is even another month in the year that encourages no drinking- dry January. Throughout history people choose abstaining from alcohol for many reasons, including religious believes and personal health.
The modern Sober October challenge as we know it was popularised by Macmillan Cancer Support, a UK-based charity organisation and, interestingly, a group of friends from Bristol. Who knew the origins of this tradition were so close to home! In 2010 this group of friends decided to take a break from drinking for the entire month of October. Inspired by the health benefits and the desire to raise money for a good cause, they reached out to Macmillan Cancer Support, proposing the idea of Sober October as a fundraising initiative. Macmillan recognised the potential of their idea and partnered up with the group. The following year, in 2011, the first official Sober October campaign was launched.
Since then, Sober October not only gained popularity in the UK, but spread to other countries, too. And, while the original goal was to raise money for cancer research, the challenge has evolved to incorporate a broader focus on personal well-being, encouraging participants to rethink their drinking habits and consider the positive impact of sobriety.
October has already started, but hopefully it is not too late to join in. And we encourage you to take a few steps and read through our useful tips below:
1. Set clear goals
Before you begin your Sober October journey, it’s essential to define your goals. Why are you participating in this challenge? Is it for health reasons, personal growth, or to support a charitable cause? Having clear goals will give you a sense of purpose and motivation throughout the month.
2. Plan ahead
Prepare for Sober October by removing temptations from your environment. Empty your liquor cabinet, clear out any alcohol from your home (or lock them away), and inform your friends and family about your commitment. It’s also a good idea to plan alternative activities and social gatherings that don’t revolve around drinking.
3. Stay accountable
Accountability can be a powerful motivator. Share your commitment with friends or family members who can support you and help keep you on track. You can also join online communities or find a Sober October challenge group in your area to connect with like-minded individuals. A charity fundraiser is a great way of staying focused- you’re no longer doing it just for yourself- your efforts benefit others, too.
4. Explore alcohol-free alternatives
One of the challenges of Sober October is finding enjoyable alternatives to alcoholic beverages. Fortunately, there are countless alcohol-free options available, from mocktails to artisanal sodas and non-alcoholic beers and wines. Experiment with these alternatives to discover new flavours and experiences.
5. Focus on self-care
Use this month of sobriety to prioritise self-care. Engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as meditation, yoga, reading, or spending time in nature. Self-care can help you cope with stress and cravings while reinforcing the positive aspects of sobriety.
6. Track your progress
Keep a journal or use a smartphone app to track your progress during Sober October. You could even go as far as documenting how you feel physically and emotionally as the month unfolds. Recording your journey can be a source of motivation and a valuable tool for reflection. And even if you have a very weak moment and maybe take a sip, don’t give up.
7. Seek support
This will not be too challenging if all you normally have is a half pint every two weeks. But if having a few drinks is a daily habit, you may find this challenge tough. If you find yourself overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek support from a therapist or counsellor. They can help you navigate the emotional aspects of sobriety and provide strategies to manage cravings and triggers.
8. Stay active
Regular exercise can be a great ally during Sober October. Physical activity releases endorphins, which can boost your mood and reduce cravings. Incorporate a fitness routine that you enjoy into your daily or weekly schedule. This will help you take this Sober October to a whole next level.
9. Educate yourself (and others)
Take this opportunity to educate yourself about the effects of alcohol on your body and mind. Understanding the risks and impact of alcohol consumption on your body and mood can reinforce your commitment to sobriety and help you make more informed choices when October ends. Having all the information to hand can be good when your friends are trying to tempt you with a drink- encourage them to join the challenge with you.
10. Reflect and plan ahead
As Sober October comes to an end, take some time to reflect on your experiences and achievements. Consider how this month of sobriety has impacted your life and well-being. Use this insight to set new goals and strategies for maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol moving forward.
Sober October is a great opportunity to step back from the routine of alcohol consumption and embrace a healthier, more mindful lifestyle. Whether you choose to participate for personal growth, health reasons, or to support a charitable cause, the journey can be transformative. And, hopefully, this month will be a steppingstone in a better healthier YOU, not just a quick break before diving into a very drunk November… Let us know how you get on.