Are You Ready For A Sober(ish) October?

This year's Sober October has had slight rebrand to reflect the strange year we've all had...

Woman drinking wine

by Rosamund Dean |

Are you doing Sober October this year? There are lots of reasons to do so: a clearer head, better sleep, glowier skin and the chance to raise much-needed funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. But we are living in extremely fraught times, with parts of the country in lockdown already, and the rest of us not knowing if and when the rules around working, socialising and childcare are going to change (or, indeed, what the rules actually are).

The good news is Macmillan have responded to our extraordinary circumstances by rebranding this year's initiative as Sober(ish) October, acknowledging that attempting a month of sobriety right now, on top of everything else, might be too much for some people.

Of course, if quitting alcohol completely is doable for you, then great, go for it. But I wrote Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life because I didn't want to give up alcohol completely: I just wanted to cut out the drinks that I knocked back without really thinking about it, the ones that I wasn't even enjoying, the fourth glass that I didn't need and would mean the difference between a mild hangover and a pounding, paranoid day of misery.

Because, let's face it, a lockdown hangover is the worst of hangovers - and recent research has shown that many more of us are waking up with one. According to the report from the Global Drug Survey, more than half of British drinkers admitted to an increase in the number of drinking days in a week during lockdown, and a third reported an increase in binge drinking. Not only that, but half of us have been cracking open our first drink earlier in the day than usual.

I get it. For those of us lucky enough to have jobs that we can do from home, a drink might have become a demarcation of the end of the working day. For those that have been furloughed or lost their job during this crisis, I can see the appeal of a drink in the afternoon because, why not?

'Attempting a month of sobriety right now, on top of everything else, might be too much for some people.'

But the GDS report went on to say that poorer physical health was mentioned by more than 40% as a result of increased drinking, with a negative impact on mental health and a decreased pleasure from drinking also reported. Hear that? Decreased pleasure from drinking. Honestly, what is the point of drinking if you don’t get pleasure from it?

So, if you want to try Sober(ish) October, these tips might help you make lockdown hangovers a thing of the past...

One. Picture your future self: the bright-eyed version of you who is capable of leaping out of bed feeling fresh and well-rested. Does she want you to have another drink? No.

Two. Try and limit your drinking days in a week. I find having alcohol-free days considerably easier than stopping after one drink.

Three. Stock up on alcohol-free drinks. It sounds crazy, but sometimes that ‘fizzzzz clink’ of opening a bottle of something cold is enough to satisfy that urge to drink. I love Kombucha and Seedlip.

Four. Think about how you feel before you drink: a joyful, celebratory glass of fizz with much-missed friends? Go for it! A large white wine to numb feelings of boredom or loneliness? Call a friend instead.

Five. Find a friend (or, even better, a WhatsApp group of several people) who wants to try cutting back too. Then, when you have the urge to open a bottle of wine in the evening, you have support and encouragement at your fingertips, to help you surf the urge.

Most importantly: be kind to yourself. We are living through extraordinary times so focus on what makes you happy and, if total sobriety feels unachievable right now, join me in doing Sober(ish) October. You never know, it might just change your life.

Rosamund Dean is the author of Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life

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