I hope the title of this article hasn’t instantly made you want to stop reading and that you’ll hear me out.
Once again next month MacMillan Cancer is running its Sober October campaign, with the idea being that you ditch the booze for 31 days then donate what you usually would have spent on alcohol in a month (or whatever amount you wish) to the charity. When this campaign first started four years ago I thought the challenge seemed impossible- what was the weekend, after all, without a few glasses of wine? But as someone who has now done many sober months, I can totally see the benefits.
Last year I lost four and a half stone, culminating in participating in a bodybuilding bikini contest and as I write this I am just under two weeks away from being in the final of Miss Bikini Northern Ireland. Part of my training for both of these competitions was cutting out alcohol (along with a strict diet and training regime) and right now it has been seven weeks since I had my last alcoholic beverage. Now admittedly, I am someone who loves a good drinking session and if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen the evidence of this for yourself, either in the many photos on my grid of me posing with an Espresso Martini or in my hungover/still-drunk-the-next-day stories I seemingly can’t help from posting. I love wine. I love cocktails. I love the funny stories that come from a great night out. There is nothing wrong with unwinding with a good old drink! So I’m not coming to you as someone who is tee-total or not really that into alcohol in the first place, which makes me totally confident when I say that if I can ditch the booze for prolonged periods (my longest being four months) then you can totally do it for 31 days.
“But why on earth would I want to do that?” I hear you ask. Well, for many reasons. Here are the benefits that I have found from living a temporarily alcohol-free life:
You Save Money
Whether you prefer a night in or a night out, you’ll notice a significant change in your bank balance from a month off the drink. If you’re an in-house drinker, averaging maybe three bottles of wine a week (a few glasses midweek and two bottles at the weekend, say) you’ll be saving yourself around £75. But if you’re someone who prefers a night out the amount you save is huge. You don’t have to pay for pre-drinks or taxis never mind the extortionate prices for drinks in bars and clubs. Even if you only go out one night a month this is still a whopping saving.
You Could Lose Weight
As I mentioned, the reason I am currently off alcohol is for weight-loss purposes and provided you don’t compensate for your wine calories in excessive junk food, you will definitely notice a decrease in your waistline. Alcohol is ridiculously calorific and when you add to that the munchies you have after a night out and the monstrous hangover feed the next day, drinking is a huge factor when it comes to gaining weight.
Improvement In Mental Health
As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I can not emphasise enough how vastly my mental health improves when I don’t drink. Alcohol is a known depressant and when I drink too much I feel really down. Even if you’re not someone who has a diagnosed mental health issue, we’ve all experienced ‘the fear’ at some point in our lives, either from worrying we did something stupid when we were drunk or just feeling an inexplicable wave of sadness when we’re hungover. Imagine a whole ‘fear-free’ month; it’s pretty life changing.
On top of stopping alcohol-induced anxiety you can also kiss goodbye to the other horrific symptoms of a hangover. No headaches, no nausea, no struggling to sleep, no feeling like the world around you is slowly ending…ugh, hangovers suck. And when you wake up with a clear head you can use your weekends to do things other than recovering in bed- you can get out and go for lovely walks, enjoy nice brunches without feeling like you’re going to hurl, catch up with friends or simply enjoy a day in bed watching Netflix, without feeling like your head could potentially explode at any given time.
You’ll Look Better
Alcohol not only dehydrates you, but it also breaks down collagen, causes wrinkles, sags the skin and enhances the ageing process. Excessive drinking makes you look tired and haggard and can make it difficult to sleep, so when you cut it out you will notice a marked improvement in your skin tone and texture, your eyes will look brighter and you’ll have a more youthful vibrancy overall, and who doesn’t want that?
It’s A Great Cause
If none of the above has convinced you that going sober will improve your life, then just think of the great cause you will be supporting if you embrace this challenge. MacMillan provide help and care to thousands of patients living with cancer, something that will impact on all our lives in one way or another at some stage. Cancer is not something that anyone chooses or that they have any control over getting, it is a horrible, unfair disease that doesn’t care who it affects. So if nothing else, see Sober October as something you can choose to do to make a difference in the lives of sufferers. It’s a great, character-building challenge that only requires a month of your dedication. You can do it!
The Go Sober For October challenge begins on October 1 and you can sign up today at www.gosober.org.uk. Good luck!