A month off drinking is not only a great challenge for charity, it’s a great way to review your drinking habits. Can you really keep off the sauce for a month? What (or who) are your triggers? Where are the opportunities for you to swap out a few alcoholic-drinks in the longer term? Whatever your motivation, we’ve teamed up with Laura Willoughby, co-founder of Club Soda the Mindful Drinking Movement, to give you top 5 tips for a successful Sober October.
PLAN AHEAD – ‘WOOP WOOP’
Winging it won’t work. A bad day at work or an impromptu night out could scupper your best intentions. Planning ahead means you will stay on track. Swap out pub nights for cinema or an immersive experience, avoid mates that will be less than supportive, and make sure you know what you’ll do if your work day turns a bit stressful. How will you relax or console yourself if this happens? At Club Soda, we use a method called WOOP to help plan for obstacles. WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. It can be used to set your goal for the month or just planning for a night ahead. For example:
Wish: I wish to be sober for October
Outcome: If I do this I will be chuffed I raised so much cash for charity
Obstacle: My best mate will encourage me to drink
Plan: If this happens I will be clear with them that this is a charity goal I need their help with, ask them not to pressure me into drinking, and then escape to the loo and look at how much I have raised so far to keep me on track!
You can watch a video on how to use WOOP to get you through the month here.
GET SOME ALCOHOL-FREE ALTERNATIVES IN
Drinks with an alcohol content under 0.5% only have a trace of alcohol, so we consider them alcohol-free. To look at this another way, a ripe banana can contain as much as 0.3% alcohol, and you would have to drink several bottles of Eisberg alcohol-free wine (which is less than 0.05% alcohol) to get one unit of alcohol.
Even better, the alcohol free beers and wines are low in calories and have no added sugar. So if you’re worried you’ll be replacing alcohol with sugar then these drinks will literally dilute your fears. Using Sober October to explore the alcohol free options will also mean you know what you like when you fancy a night off during the rest of the year.
RESISTANCE IS NOT FUTILE
After two drinks no one notices what you’re drinking. The more people drink, the less they care about what you’re having. And once you have said no to the first drink, it gets easier. You will start to see the effects on everyone else – and you can flash forward to their foggy head tomorrow and feel a little bit smug!
And what about pushy mates? Some people make it seem like you have personally let them down by choosing not to drink. Don’t get defensive, if they won’t take a simple explanation don’t get drawn in. Try and turn the discussion onto something different, or if necessary make an excuse and go talk to someone else. Remember: it’s your choice, not theirs, and you don’t owe them an explanation beyond a simple ‘I am doing Sober October’.
FAKE IT IF YOU HAVE TO
Sometimes it’s worth ‘faking it’ a little, just to avoid a boring discussion about the merits/demerits of being out at the weekend sober. So here are a few ideas for flying below the radar as a secret Sober Hero.
Drink in hand. The easiest way to fake drinking is just to have a drink in your hand. So show up five minutes early and get your drink in first. You can even ask the bar staff to keep your drinks virgin all night, or set up a pre-arranged ‘usual’ if you want to keep your non-drinking under wraps. I have talked to many bar staff. They know this trick already, and will conspire with their customers to make it happen!
Turning down a drink. Once you’ve got your drink, your standard response can be a simple ‘I’ve got a drink thanks’, or you can ask for a soft drink and let them think you’re alternating between alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks. This also gives them a chance to be generous and include you in a round. You can still buy other people drinks as well. Be generous and people are less likely to mind whether you drink or not.
Take your own. This is my top tip, mainly because it sounds more outrageous than it actually is. But the reality is that when there is no alcohol involved, you are fussier about what you want to drink. It’s unlikely a pub will have the drink you like the most, or that your mate will have got in the best possible alcohol-free tipple. So a guaranteed way to be sure is to sort it yourself. Go to the party armed with your own drinks, and when going out call ahead and offer to pay them a £1 ‘corkage’ for every drink of your own you have (because they will then chill it in their fridge and pour it for you) or just be a sober rebel. It’s up to you.
Raising money for charity is always a great reward in itself, but if you know you will find an evening out a bit hard, then make sure you have planned a special Sober Hero reward for when you get home. It could be an episode of a box set, a bath, or some frozen yoghurt. Whatever your reward is, plan it in advance so you know you have achieved another night out sober.
For delicious alcohol free cocktail recipes go here.
To find out more about Club Soda, the Mindful Drinking Movement and how to join, visit here.