It’s October again, which means the leaves are turning, pumpkins and spice are literally everywhere and you have at least one friend on Facebook proclaiming they’re going to do “Sober October” [at least until Halloween]. If you’re thinking hopping on the wagon (or maybe the recent Congressional spotlight on our drinking culture has your stomach turning too much to indulge in a beer), here are some tips for making your Sober October last longer than the Jack-O-Lantern on your stoop:
You are not alone in this endeavor! About 2/3 of the clients I see in my practice want to work on reducing their alcohol intake. (But most are surprised when I tell them this is a common goal for other clients.)
You have to be ready to make a change in your drinking habits. This means YOU have to want to commit to a sober month (or week/year/whatever). If you’re merely doing it because your roommate/partner/best friend is, chances are, you won’t be as successful. Attach a specific reason that you want to do Sober October (i.e. “I want to work out on Sunday mornings instead of being hungover” or “I want save my empty calories for Halloween candy, not beer”) Bonus tip: focus on what you’re gaining vs what you’re losing!
Find what works for you! Maybe your friend is totally comfortable hitting up the bars without drinking, but that’s just too tempting for you. Or maybe you just can’t keep a bottle of wine in the house without cracking it. Figure out what tempts you and then avoid it! (Also figure out what activities you like doing that don’t include drinking alcohol, and do those!) And remember, every person is unique, so don’t expect your journey to be exactly like anyone else’s.
Deal with any emotions you’ve been suppressing with alcohol. This might not be applicable for everyone, but for lots of people, it is. Take some time while you’re avoiding alcohol to reflect on what else you may be avoiding. Be honest with yourself: do you use alcohol (or other habits or stimulants) to avoid having to feel emotions? If so, this is a great time to start working with a therapist!
Remember a setback is not a failure! If you slip up and have a drink (or four) don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is another day and another chance to get back on the wagon. Don’t give up!
Curious about how you can develop a plan to cut back on your alcohol intake (or cut it out completely)? Book a session today!
Ps Read more about my thoughts on drinking over at Donuts + Downdog