Sober October is a challenge of 31 days of sobriety that was created across the pond in the UK in 2010 and has gained popularity in the United States over the last decade. Personally, I think October is the best month for abstaining from alcohol because it's just before the major boozy holiday months. So not only will you improve your health and reframe your relationship with alcohol, but you might also lose a few pounds before party season. Also, remember, Halloween falls on a Monday this year, so it's easier than ever to skip that spooky sip. Here are 6 tips for thriving during Sober October.
1. Make a Commitment
You're much more likely to stick to a Sober October Challenge if you let someone else know you are doing it. It doesn't even need to be someone you know personally! I've started this EatDrinkLessLA Team to help raise money for SMART Recovery USA, and it's open to the public. Feel free to join the group if you'd like a place to formally commit to doing the challenge without the pressure of having to raise money or post on Social Media (although that's completely allowed too).
You can also create your own profile if you'd like to go solo. Just sign up on soberoctober.com.
If you need a little more nudging to stay on track, The Alcohol Experiment with Annie Grace is amazing -- and it only costs what you're willing to pay. It's a 30-day online program that really deep dives into the question, "Is my life better with alcohol?" The answer might surprise you.
2. Box up the Booze
It might seem obvious, but if every time you open the fridge, there's a Sam Adams Lager starting back at you...your temptation to cheat might be greater. Take all the alcohol in your house and box it up with a big piece of tape across the top. That way, you'll have to go an extra step if you feel like you need a drink.
3. Stock up on Alcohol Alternatives
Just because you gave up alcohol for a month doesn't mean you gave up the habit of craving something delicious after a long day or week. Replace your usual glass of wine with an alcohol-free one like a Sparkling Noughty Chardonnay. I love the Better Rhodes Online Marketplace because it's overflowing with alcohol-free choices that actually taste good and in every category you could think of.
Another fun alternative to alcohol is adaptogen beverages like the ones Kin Euphorics has. One is designed to lift you up while the other makes you relax. They are alcohol-free and use herbal ingredients to influence your mood.
If drinking alcohol-like beverages just seems to trigger you more, though, fill the fridge with Sparkling Water flavors or find some Teas that you love.
The most important thing is to make it an experience that can fully replace the wine, beer, or spirit that you're used to. If you're not enjoying it, you're less likely to stick to it. Try using a nice glass when you drink and really take in the feeling of a hot tea in your hands or the relaxation that can come from watching bubbles rise to the top of a tumbler.
4. Replace the Ritual
Have you always wanted to take up yoga or join a hiking group? The next 31 days offer the perfect opportunity to try something new that you might enjoy just as much as drinking alcohol. Replace the ritual of having a drink at the end of the day with lacing up those running shoes instead or watching the entire Games of Thrones series. One thing I definitely wouldn't advise is starting a diet. Giving up drinking is hard enough without the added pressure of striving for some level of out-of-reach perfection. Take a moment to examine what you could accomplish in 31 days if you had extra time. When you give up alcohol, there are suddenly more hours in the day.
5. Remember your Why
When things get tough, you might want to throw in the towel and grab a Tanqueray, but just try and remember your why. Why did you decide to give up alcohol for 31 days? Was it for health, for charity, just to see if you could do it? There are loads of reasons, but if you're really clear at the start, it will be easier to stay committed for the month. It might also be helpful to write it down somewhere so you can revisit it if you need to. Also, remember - this is 31 days - not forever (unless it's going so well that you want it to be).
6. Forgive and Forget
One of the things I love about Smart Recovery USA is its message of Unconditional Self Acceptance (USA). If you find in the next 31 days, you slip up and sip up, just don't beat yourself up! Our society is constantly begging us to drink with promotions in movies, tv shows, and in-your-face advertisements. So, give yourself some credit for taking the road less monetized, and forgive yourself if you have to give in to your indiscretions. Just begin again as soon as you can and congratulate yourself for even taking this challenge on. You got this!