What is Sober October?
Go Sober for October is an annual fundraising campaign that raises money for MacMillan Cancer Research.
It’s a challenge that MacMillan organise and it invites drinkers to stop drinking for the 31 days in October and to make some healthy lifestyle changes for the month - all at the same time as raising money for a good cause.
MacMillan are a cancer charity who offer information and support (physical, financial and emotional) to people and families affected by cancer. But they also do much more than this: they’re involved in cancer research, cancer education and awareness and training for professionals working with cancer.
They fundraise in lots of different ways - Go Sober for October is just one of them.
The idea is that you:
- Sign up for the Go Sober challenge
- Enjoy a booze-free month
- Raise funds through being sponsored to do it
- Help people with cancer - become a Soberhero!
Note: If you are physically dependent on alcohol, you need to consult with a doctor or medical specialist before you stop drinking to ensure that you detox your body safely.
Why Go Sober for October?
If you have a perfectly healthy relationship with alcohol, then signing up for Sober October is a great idea - you're supporting an amazing charity, you're giving your body a healthy break and you're saving money! Giving yourself a taste of alcohol-free living is only going to benefit you and could lead to a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Six reasons to do Sober October if you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol:
- It’s a good kickstart. If you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and have been toying with the idea of stopping drinking but haven’t actually managed to commit to it yet then signing up for the Sober October challenge and getting sponsored to do it is a good motivator.
- It’s only 31 days. Having a time-limited challenge can be easier to deal with mentally than thinking you’re never going to drink again. A month is more manageable than forever. If you discover that your life is infinitely better alcohol-free and you decide you want to stick with it, you can always create a new target to aim for afterwards.
- You’re not on your own. Instead of worrying about what people might think, instead of feeling paranoid that people might wonder if you have a “problem”, you can legitimately and confidently say no to alcohol because you’re being sponsored to do it. There will be a wave of other people all doing the same thing at the same time that you can join forces with. You can feel connected and supported.
- The focus isn’t on your drinking. The point of Go Sober for October is to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Charity and so that’s where the focus is. There’s no stigma attached – you’re doing something good for other people. This in itself is motivating and helps you to keep going.
- You’ll be raising money for an amazing charity and will be helping people living with cancer. You can visit the Go Sober for October and Macmillan Cancer websites and see how much work they do and where your money goes, from giving support and information to those living with cancer to cancer research and education. You’ll become a sober-hero!
- If you’re uncertain about how healthy your relationship with alcohol actually is, going sober for a month will be a good test for you.
Benefits of Going Sober for October
Even if you don't want to stop drinking forever, signing up for the Sober October challenge and going alcohol-free for a while gives you significant benefits:
- You sleep better – alcohol affects sleeping rhythms and, despite the fact it can seem like having a few drinks is helping you to drop off, it has a detrimental effect on REM sleep which is essential for proper restoration and recovery.
- You get slimmer and healthier – no more empty calories and no more unhealthy drunken or hungover decisions about food. This means your body starts to recover and lose excess weight. It also processes food better because all its energy isn’t being taken up by processing alcohol through the liver anymore.
- You look better – better sleep and healthier habits mean clearer skin, shinier hair and even brighter eyes and whiter teeth!
- You get fitter – you’re able to commit to workouts and physical activity. No more hangovers equals focus and determination. You’re able to stick to your exercise plans and your body can work harder and more efficiently because it’s not dealing with alcohol.
- You have more energy – all the good quality sleep you’re getting, the better nutritional choices you’re making and the healthier physical activity your body is doing means that you have the energy and pazzaz to seize the days and make the most of the opportunities that come your way.
- You have more time – how much time do you lose at the weekends through hangovers and cancelled plans? Being hangover-free and having the energy to get things done means that you have more time to do more things that you want to do. You’re in control.
- Your brain functions better – concentration, memory and decision-making are all affected by alcohol. Not only that but alcohol actually wrecks brain circuitry and kills brain cells. When you stop drinking, you start firing on all cylinders.
- Your mental health improves – it becomes much easier to manage symptoms of mental ill health when you’re living life sober. In fact, in some cases, symptoms can disappear. Depression, anxiety and personality disorders are all made worse by alcohol which can also interfere with medication. When you stop drinking, you give yourself the opportunity to feel better mentally as well as physically.
How to Go Sober for October
Let's say you’ve decided to be a sober-hero and sign up for Sober October but you’re anxious about how you’re going to manage it. You want to be successful in raising lots of money for people living with cancer and doing something healthy for your body and your brain.
Here are some tips to help set you up for sober-hero success.
Five tips to help you prepare for the Sober October challenge
- Make a list: what jobs has alcohol been doing for you?
- Figure out other ways you can get those jobs done, write them down and make an action plan to start doing them.
- Make a list of all the ways living life sober will benefit you (pump up your motivation for doing it)
- Make a list of all the tricky “trigger” points and challenges that might crop up over the month and plan how you’re going to deal with them. A “trigger” is a situation, an event, a smell, a sound, a person, a feeling (anything at all) that normally prompts you to want to reach for alcohol.
- Mentally rehearse what success at the end of the month will look like, sound like, feel like, taste like and smell like – spend some time immersing yourself into the experience of success using your imagination to do it. This fires up the circuitry and pathways in the brain that help make it happen in reality.
Seven tips to help you stay motivated during the Sober October challenge
- Keep your diary busy with non-drinking alternatives/activities. Whether it’s a cinema trip, a sports club or a nurturing, relaxing evening at home, when you plan in advance, you feel more confident with what you’re doing and you’re less likely to be drawn into a drinking activity.
- Develop healthy habits: learn to dance, join a club, start working out if you don’t already (try something different and push yourself harder if you do), start volunteering. Doing things that make you feel good about yourself is motivating and helps you stay on track.
- Learn to say no and get assertive with your boundaries. Sometimes people get drawn in to agreeing to things they don’t really want to do just because they get taken by surprise. The best way to protect your boundaries and to get confident with saying no to invitations that could lead you into drinking territory is to practise saying no out loud. Another good tip for saying no is to buy yourself time. You don’t have to give an answer to anything straightaway in the heat of the moment, you can always get back to someone later. Give yourself the time to think about what you want to do and to plan and practise the response you’re going to give. You’ll end up more confident with saying no and you’ll stay in control.
- Approach social situations with curiosity. It can be daunting to socialise sober when you’re used to using alcohol to loosen up. When you get curious about how the experience is going to be different sober instead of worrying about it, it becomes much easier to deal with. You can get curious about the number of other people not drinking. You can get curious about how long it will take you to relax and start enjoying yourself. You can get curious about other people’s responses to you not drinking. Curiosity is a healthy state to cultivate and will help power you through.
- Plan and prepare for social situations. You can simply say no to any situation you think will be too challenging for you. But, for the ones you want to go to or can’t get out of, you can plan and prepare to make it easy on yourself. Plan how long you’re going to stay and have your excuses and your escape routes at the ready (if you know you’re only going to be there for an hour, it’s much easier to deal with). Plan what you’re going to drink and even take your own drinks with you so you can enjoy your preferred refreshment. And, plan what you’re going to do or say if anyone puts any pressure on you to drink. Preparing for any challenges you might face gives you the confidence to deal with them successfully.
- And, keep celebrating your wins. Whether it’s ignoring the wine aisle in the supermarket, spending an hour sober at a party or navigating a family meal sober, acknowledging your wins, recording them in some way and rewarding yourself for your success helps you to stay motivated, feel good about yourself and stay on track.
- And, start a habit of daily visits to the free blogs on my website – they’ll help you to get into a positive and motivated mindset for staying sober.
Going sober for 31 days in October is a great way to start healthier habits and to start noticing the benefits of alcohol-free living for yourself. And, of course you’re also helping people who are living with cancer at the same time.
If your body is physically dependent on alcohol, you need to consult a doctor or medical specialist before you stop drinking to make sure you detox your body safely.
Why not become a sober-hero and sign up for Go Sober for October!
For motivation, support and guidance to stay sober longer-term, the online Go Get Sober Guidance Programme is everything you need.
A structured online coaching programme that takes you step-by-step through what to do and how to do it so that you experience living life alcohol free-as liberating, joyful and rewarding.
The Guidance Programme is usually accessible through a monthly subscription membership but we have made it free during the pandemic because so many people have been struggling without their usual face-to-face supports.
Take advantage while you can, join our growing supportive community and sign up now
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