Every year, as the leaves change, the air becomes brisk and pumpkin spice everything appears on store shelves, we eagerly anticipate the coming of… Sober October!
Maybe that’s not what you had in mind, but with fall comes the opportunity to reevaluate our relationship with alcohol and other substances, use the month to reaffirm good habits and create new ones that will help you make it through the upcoming holiday months and activities.
Sober October began in 2014 as a fundraising initiative by Macmillan Cancer Support. But what began as a month-long opportunity to donate the money that would otherwise have been spent on alcohol towards those battling cancer in the UK has become a global phenomenon and wellness trend with millions of supporters worldwide.
The rules are fairly simple: choose a period, ranging from 14 days to a month, and don’t drink! Encourage those around you to do the same, and donate the money, whether to the original cancer support organization or any charitable cause of your choosing.
Sober October as a former addict
It’s less simple, however, to deal with the connotations of Sober October as a former alcoholic or addict. This month-long challenge is universally advertised as a fun and free way to do some good, but if you’ve struggled with addiction, getting through each day without using is challenging enough, much less a whole month when the focus on not drinking or taking drugs is heightened.
The best way to make it through - and even enjoy the process! - is by building a few healthy habits to motivate you to stay sober. So this month, use these tips to stay focused on your goals and turn Sober October into a month-long celebration of your progress towards recovery!
1) Go with the flow
One of the easiest ways to ruin your progress is to get discouraged by obstacles along the path to sobriety. But if anything is certain, it’s that change will happen, with or without you, and there’s no point in fighting it.
When you stumble, get right back up and try to roll with the punches. There is no one right way to recover from addiction, so give yourself credit for all you have accomplished and be willing to keep putting in the work to create the healthy hangover-free lifestyle you want for yourself.
2) Be consistent
Build your new routine by starting each day with your morning intentions. This consistency is the key to success and the simplest way to make new habits effortless. It might seem boring, but having gratitude and affirming what you want to accomplish and sticking to it will ultimately help you realize those goals and find a balance for your life without addiction.
Intentions can be spoken or written, but whichever way you choose to make them, be sure to do them every day, ideally at the same time each morning. Set a reminder or calendar alert so that you set aside a few minutes each day to center yourself and make recovery the focus of your daily actions.
3) Keep track
This is where a progress journal, digital or not, will come in handy, as visualizing everything you have accomplished will help you raise awareness of the patterns, healthy habits, and momentum you are building. When you go a day without a drink, record how you’re feeling and why. Not only does this serve as a healthy outlet for those emotions, but it is also rewarding to look back on how far you’ve come and see how much closer you are to your goals.
It’s important not to get too wrapped up in making these notes only about the bigger steps you’ve taken. There are no small wins, and every step you take is a step closer to a healthier and more productive life, so log your progress and take pride in the healthy activities you achieve each day.
This is a big one, and it’s the one most people have the hardest time internalizing. Don't try and do this alone. Recovery is hard, and setbacks will happen, but keeping those emotions bottled up will only make it that much more difficult to move forward.
Discuss the feelings and thoughts that come up with a friend, accountability partner, loved one, mentor, or therapist. The more the merrier is really the key here, as you can use all the support you can get to make it through the challenges along the way. Keep the connections positive and avoid returning to any negative influences from the past, as they will stand in the way of your moving forward.
5) Commit and follow-through
This journey is a marathon, and not a sprint, so it’s important to remember that it’s all about taking one day at a time. You can’t do anything more than commit to the process and follow through on your efforts, and that commitment will bring lasting results.
With each new habit, tell yourself you will try it for a day. Then the next day, a week, and so on. Even if you slip up and forget, commit to getting back on track the next day and making progress towards recovery. The hardest part of this whole process is making the decision to change, and you’ve already done that. All that’s left is to put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, and make good on the commitment you’ve made to yourself and your future.
6) Enjoy the natural high
Living a life without alcohol or drugs is a big adjustment, but one of the greatest benefits is how good, energetic, productive and clear-headed you will feel! Don’t be so focused on all the things you have to do to keep moving forward that you forget to take a moment and enjoy how it feels to be sober!
People who don’t drink or use drugs sleep better, have more energy naturally, and are better able to focus and more productive. You’re on the path to recovery to be healthier and happier, and these are a few of the concrete signs that you’re succeeding, so celebrate them! Whether you’re weeks into the process or have been sober for years, remember to never take the feeling of wellbeing for granted!
7) Have a (nonalcoholic) drink
When everyone around you is celebrating with alcohol or other substances, it can be particularly challenging to remember why you can’t indulge. But at the core of celebrating with alcohol is the desire to celebrate that moment or occasion, and there’s an easy way to take part in the fun: nonalcoholic drinks.
Mocktails have been mocked for years, but mixology has come a long way and the creative (nonalcoholic) concoctions available at most bars are so delicious, you won’t even notice that there’s no alcohol in them. Being sober doesn’t mean missing out on the fun, so give yourself permission to indulge in parties at work, family gatherings, and drinks with friends, minus the alcohol.
8) Treat yourself
Scientists agree that rewards help the recovery process along, so treat yourself! Whether that’s with sober wellness-related gifts, cosmetics, fitness accessories, or a day at the spa, acknowledge your progress and reward yourself for all the hard work.
Rewarding yourself for healthy habits makes it that much more likely that you’ll stick to those habits, so it’s the best kind of vicious circle. For every day you log your intentions, go for a walk or pursue a new hobby, treat yourself in some small way and keep those rewards in mind to help you overcome any challenges along the way.
9) Celebrate the savings
Alcohol and other substances are expensive, so take a moment to appreciate the money you are not wasting! That money can now be used for travel, dinners out, or savings for the future, but whatever you choose to spend it on, relish the fact that you’ll be using it for more positive pursuits instead of spending it all on an addictive outlet.
You are in control of your habits - and your spending - and that control is a powerful statement of your progress. Give yourself permission to indulge in shopping every once and a while as a reward, and remember that you’ve earned all the endorphins and pennies you’re spending (or saving!) by prioritizing your recovery!
If you need help staying on track this month, you can download Oberit in the App Store and Google Play today!
Earn rewards for being your best self.