You’ve decided to be a sober-hero and sign up for Go Sober for October (an annual fundraising sober challenge run by Macmillan Cancer Charity in the UK) 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.
Here are some tips to help set you up for sober-hero success.
In preparation for the 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 your life (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.
During the 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.
Become a sober-hero and sign up for Go Sober for October now!