Here’s how to go Sober for October and still have a good social life
We’ve all been there… to hell with the hangover, let’s get another round in!
Or perhaps you prefer to sip in silence and relish that glass of vino (or two) at the end of a hard-working day.
Either way, social drinkers don’t always take stock of how much alcohol they’re consuming, week on week.
Well how about holding back, taking a detour down sober street, test driving teetotalism, making room for mocktails and being booze free for a month?
For some guidance on how to take part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober for October, we’ve asked experts about what going booze-free for a month can do for your wellbeing, and for their tips on how to survive the challenge. Who knows, you may even discover that holding back from the hard stuff (if only for a while) could be the start of a whole new you…
What will it do for your wellbeing?
You’ll get a new energy boost
“Without alcohol in your system, you’ll soon start to feel an energy boost – this is a great time to revitalise your workout or try something completely different in terms of exercise,” says Andrew Cooper, a health and fitness expert. “In the past, I’ve tried things like yoga and meditation, because I was intrigued and saw the campaign as a good opportunity to make the effort and find out some more.”
Check out these top country walks less than an hour away from Liverpool to get your new sober head straight.
Your sleep quality will improve
Behavioural physhologist, Jo Hemmings, says: “It’s not how many hours you sleep, but the quality of that sleep that really matters. Alcohol disrupts both REM sleep (which helps us learn and remember) and slow wave sleep (the part that helps us wake up refreshed). So, you’ll both look and feel better when that alarm goes off in the morning!”
Your skin will look better
“Alcohol can deplete those vitamins and minerals that help our skin look plump, healthy and glowing,” says Hemmings. “It’s also dehydrating, another major contributor to dull, lifeless skin and dark circles under the eyes. Within just a few days of going alcohol free, your skin will look more radiant.”
Drinking makes you eat more… and spend more
“There’s no doubt about it, whether you drink at home or in the pub, boozing is an expensive business. No one wants to be mean when out with friends, so buying your ‘round’ is important and that soon adds up. With its high sugar intake and empty calories, it also makes us more hungry, meaning we’re inclined to spend money on more food than we need to satisfy those cravings, adding to the expense,” says Hemmings.
How to stick to it…
Take it day by day
“Going 31 days without alcohol can seem like a mountain to climb but breaking it down and taking each day as it comes is the most sure-fire way to complete the challenge. Some people love the pressure of it all, but for the majority, I think it’s better to be mindful and enjoy every alcohol-free day as it comes. Especially the absence of hangovers!” says Cooper.
Use your new-found time to take up a hobby
“When you’re considering giving up drinking for a month, it’s easy to assume that being a recluse is the only option. However, Go Sober actually presents a great opportunity for you to celebrate being healthier and pick up some new habits at the same time,” says Cooper.
“There’s no doubt that, at some point during the month, you’ll feel like you’re missing something – so why not put something positive in its place? For me, I’ve always wanted to learn to climb, so this October I’ve decided to embark on a new challenge with a few friends and have committed to getting some lessons.
Now teetotal Laurie McAllister, blogger for Girl & Tonic, and a Go Sober for October supporter, says: “Plan what you are going to drink in advance. If you know you’ll be tempted by a champagne cocktail, what can you drink instead? Is there a yummy mocktail on the menu? I’ve found lots of places very happy to make me something special even if it’s not on the menu. Added bonus it’s usually half the price and half the calories, nice on your wallet and your waistband.”
Make the most of your weekends
Going booze free shouldn’t mean missing out on your normal weekend activities like going out for brunch. But if all your friends are glugging down the prosecco, McAllister says to “order your favourite coffee and an extra juice.” She adds: “Plan something nice for after brunch, maybe a gym class or cinema trip or doing some shopping. Make the most of your day post-brunch and be glad you’re not feeling fuzzy for the rest of your day (as your friends probably will be). Plus no hangover for Monday = ultra productive.”
Focus on food instead
But what if you’re in a restaurant with an amazing wine list? How can you pass on that glass of Chablis or Malbec? Make it all about the food, choose exactly what you want to eat – and pick a lovely non-alcoholic alternative (Seedlip is a great non-alcoholic spirit you can drink with tonic) so you don’t feel left out.
Our Food & Drink archives are full of ideas on where you can dine out in and around Liverpool. Head this way.
Remember why you’re doing Go Sober for October, and the money you’re raising for charity – plus how much better you’ll feel with no hangover the next day, and how accomplished you’ll feel at the end of the month… maybe you’ll even want to continue!
Go Sober for October is Macmillan’s abstinence fundraising challenge, which asks social drinkers to give up alcohol for 31 days and raise vital money for the growing number of people living with cancer across the UK. Last year more than 75,000 people took part and raised over £5 million.
Our Jay (who as we all know enjoys a drink from time to time) spoke to Dr Fiona Ogden-Forde, Clinical Lead for Alcohol at Liverpool CCG and Co-Chair of the multi-agency Liverpool Alcohol Strategy Group to get some tips and advice on how we can all look after ourselves in terms of drinking, and found out exactly what ‘binge-drinking’ is. Watch the interview above and find out more here.