Whether you want to take a break from the booze, are hoping to save money or are keen to reassess your relationship with alcohol, now is a good a time as any to go booze-free thanks to Sober October. The month-long charity event raises money for Macmillan Cancer Support and so far has reached over £1million and encouraged 33,000 people and counting to ditch the drink.
While the charity aspect is key – Macmillan need your support now more than ever – it’s also a great chance to cut back on your alcohol intake and reevaluate old habits. And if you’re worried about the odd ‘oh, go on have a drink’ comment in the pub this is one of the few times in the year when the pressure is off and you may find it less awkward to explain why you’re skipping the vodka in your soda and lime.
Stopping drinking altogether – even if you’re not a big drinker – can be daunting, especially when it comes to your social life. It can raise questions from others and it takes willpower. So who better to lend their tips than someone who has done it themselves. Jo Ferbrache, also known to some as Sober Jo, took on the challenge to stop drinking for a year and she never looked back. Three years in and she’s now a proud teetotaller documenting her journey on socials and inspiring others through her professional coaching. It’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about staying on the wagon, from setting intentions to finding decent sober-friendly drinks (she knows what’s worth stocking your bar cart with) and how to not be too hard on yourself. Read on for Jo’s seven top tips for smashing Sober October and proving you can have a joie de vivre without the vino.
1. Get clear on your why
Write down why you’re giving up booze so that this can act as a reminder if you need it later down the line. Put as much detail in there as possible because after taking a break, it can be easy to romanticise your relationship with alcohol forgetting why you felt you needed the break in the first place. Everyone’s “why” will be different – weight-loss, health, money, family – and connecting with yours is essential if you want to take a meaningful break.
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2. Take a ‘before’ photo
Take a photo of yourself at the start of your challenge and see how different you look and feel at the end of the month – you might want to carry it on if you begin to feel and see the benefits.
Be clear on why you're doing this - It can be easy to romanticise your relationship with alcohol forgetting why you felt you needed the break in the first place.
3. Educate yourself
I love reading people’s memoirs and there are plenty of books out there offering inspiring journeys to help you stay on track. These books made me feel understood and encouraged me to take action.
If podcasts are more your thing, you can listen to my story ‘going sober doesn’t mean the parties over’ on Becky Lancashire’s ‘Into Words‘ podcast.
4. Stock up on sober sips
If you like the taste of wine, beers, and spirits there are plenty of alcohol-free alternatives to fill your bar cart with. The market has boomed in recent years, with a tonne of high-quality, interesting brands out there – think grown-up drinks crafted by experts rather than just alcohol swapped for a load of sugar.
Scroll on forJo’s pick of the best below…
5. Treat yourself
If you haven’t spent all your money on alcohol-free alternatives, then add up your savings over the month. You might be surprised how quickly the pounds add up. Why not treat yourself to something special or donate the money to a charity of your choice?
You will also need to decide what to do with all of the extra time and a clearer head. Maybe it’s time to book in that sport, yoga, or meditation practice you never have time fo.Or finally read that book and learn that skill, get organised, clear out your wardrobe, finish that home decoration you have been dreaming of or maybe you’ll splash out on that spa pass and do absolutely nothing.
6. Show accountability
Accountability is helpful for a lot of people trying to stay on track. I host a weekly room on ClubHouse, the free audio-only app that you can download. You can simply just listen in or join in the conversation, there is no judgment or pressure. The most important thing is feeling part of a community of like-minded people there to celebrate the highs and hold space for the lows for one other. There are sober and sober-curious people in the room; everyone is welcome. The club is called ‘Sober Journey’ and is available every Thursday at 7 pm. I also coach people who are more private and want more one-to-one help with their accountability.
7. Challenge your mindset
Finally, look at the language that you are using. Do you keep saying that you are ‘giving up’ drinking? Do you keep talking about what you are ‘missing out’ on? Try talking about what you are gaining and see how that shifts how you feel about your decision. Get clear on what you are gaining, so that you can focus on this.
Subtle changes to the words that we use can make a huge difference.
You got this.