How to survive sober October
Wellbeing expert Dani Binnington offers her top tips for getting through a month of sobriety.
Out of fear of a recurrence I did everything possible to improve my overall health and increase my chances of survival. Giving up booze, for good, was just one of the many things I did—from changing my diet to meditation and mindfulness—on a quest to recover and survive.
The author, Dani Binnington
So when at the age of 33, I turned up to dinner parties and nights out saying "I don’t drink" it's fair to say that I was always the odd one out. I loved to have a drink and I still think that some of my funniest experiences happened when under the influence.
My personal drive to give up the booze was driven by fear, but most of all it was driven by love. My love for my three young daughters who I was so desperately trying to be around for, for as long as possible.
The world health organisation has classified alcohol as a carcinogen. This means there is convincing evidence that alcohol causes cancer in humans. The more you drink, the higher your risk. The less you drink, the lower your risk. I decided to cut it out completely.
If you are taking the plunge and going sober for October to raise some much-needed cash for MacMillan cancer charity, or you are trying to cut down on alcohol in general, good on you! Here are a few of the top tips I learnt along the way…
Look at the positives of drinking less or going sober and focus on those. Whether it’s the fact that you are raising cash for charity or that you feel great in the mornings without that booze cloud hanging over you. Focus on the benefits. What we focus on expands!
Kick-start a healthier lifestyle in general, add in an exercise class once a week and make one healthy meal a day. It will help you stay motivated and you will start to feel really great.
Remember the why
Become clear of the WHY. We all have very personal reasons for cutting out booze, mine were purely health-related, others don’t like how drinking makes them feel the next day.
Become clear of why you stop for October and remind yourself of it at times when you feel tempted or feeling frustrated with not drinking.
Quit the self-criticism
Watch your language of how you speak to yourself. Don’t tell yourself that you "must not" have a drink. Instead, say you "choose not" to have a drink because…and list the benefits that it brings for you.
The way we talk to ourselves is so powerful and unless we’re careful we can be very harsh to ourselves, full of self-criticism. Tell yourself you’re doing a brilliant job at not drinking and remind yourself why you do it.
Find an alternative drink or something else to do for the times that you really fancy a drink. Makeup lime and ginger mocktails that not only taste nice but also boost your immune system, fighting off the autumn colds.
Try an alcohol-free beer and you might be surprised at how nice it tastes. Find other ways of relaxing instead of having a glass of wine. Run a bath, download a meditation app and plug yourself in or start reading a gripping book.
Check your diary for what you have planned in October and mark the events that you know you will find tricky attending when sober. This is an important exercise alone as it can be really helpful to assess why and how we feel about drinking.
Do we drink quite so much because it’s our turn soon to buy a round and it would be rude not? Perhaps that certain friend of yours loves meeting up with you because you always get tipsy together?
Decide if you want to change the date for the events you’ll find tricky or come up with a plan of how you can make them more fun.
Kick the habit
Another option: If you're doing sober October and raising much-needed cash for charity, that’s great. But if you’re heavily relying on non-alcoholic beers, you’re really struggling and you have to buy the extra four golden tickets for nights that you really think you can’t not drink, then rethink your plan.
If you really want to curb your unhealthy drinking habits, read The Kindness Method by Sharoo Izadi. It’s the best book to help you change any unwanted habits—for good.
Dani Binnington is a yoga practitioner, wellbeing expert and creator of healthywholeme.com, which is full of delicious recipes, wellbeing tips and inspiration for a healthy lifestyle.