Thinking about participating in Sober October? Or does the idea of another “30-DAY CHALLENGE!” make you roll your eyes and ask yourself, What’s the point?
Sober October began in the UK in 2014 as a fundraiser to support people living with cancer. The rules are straightforward. Don’t drink for 31 days and raise money for a charity of your choice. Or if you choose not to raise money, just give your body a break from alcohol for a month. Sounds like a good cause and simple enough, right?
I don’t think anyone would argue against raising money to fight cancer, but they might struggle more with the idea of abstaining from alcohol for 31 days. You might wonder, Does not drinking for a month have any real benefit to my health? How will I get through Thanksgiving without drinking? Or maybe you are thinking, I have no intention of ever giving up alcohol for good so why bother for 31 days? Or perhaps you feel fatigued with the rah-rah energy behind a 30-day challenge. Fair enough.
If your aim is to participate in the challenge, you might find it helpful to adopt the approach used by Annie Grace, author of This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment. She makes the case for approaching 30 days without alcohol as an experiment. How does not drinking affect your sleep? Your mental clarity? Your life overall? What is it like for you to exist without alcohol? 30 days allows you to collect some significant data and stay curious and open-minded. We have a number of people in our community who started their alcohol-free journey with a 30-day challenge and kept going due to the benefits.
For those of you who just want some quick science data on the benefits of abstaining for 30 days, you might find this publication from the National Library of Medicine noteworthy: Short-term abstinence from alcohol and changes
SPOILER ALERT: The key findings of this study are improvements in insulin resistance, blood pressure, body weight and a decrease in circulating concentrations of cancer-related growth factors following a month of abstinence from alcohol.
Whether you choose to participate in Sober October or not, it might just be worth collecting data on how much you are consuming and considering a few days off from alcohol from time to time. Dr. Guatam Mehta, medical doctor and associate professor at UCL (and author of the publication referenced above) says, “We tend to underestimate how much we drink. Having weekly “alcohol-free” days each week, helps people reflect on why they are drinking.
Wherever you find yourself this “Sober October” perhaps remember that even if you take the challenge and don’t quite make the 30 days you have not failed. Success is not linear, and the ups and downs both serve as data to help you wherever you are on your journey.
- Margaret, Co-Founder at Clearsips
Margaret is a Certified Professional Life Coach, Certified Professional Recovery Coach and a Certified She Recovers Coach. She holds a B.A in Psychology, a Masters Degree in Education and has worked in the field of Education for over 30 years.