If you have been thinking about taking a short break from alcohol, or perhaps considering giving it up more long term, you have the opportunity to join thousands of others around the world in ditching alcohol for the month of October (aka Ocsober).
Alcohol-free months like Ocsober, just like Dry January and Sober September are picking up in popularity, and giving the chance for people to start experimenting with alcohol-free life in manageable and bite-sized chunks.
With the festive season around the corner, what better time to give your body and wallet a break, than in the month of October.
If you are looking for some motivation around why you should ditch the drink this Ocsober then here are a few to get you started!
CHALKING IT UP TO A ‘CHALLENGE’
The great thing about taking one of these month long challenges, be it Sober September, or Ocsober, is that it gives you a great ‘reason’ or ‘excuse’ for making this lifestyle change, when friends and family ask. When you stop drinking, this is often something your mates or family struggle to understand, or perhaps even to support. It also tends to elicit horror gasps and suspicion around friends – ‘Does Allan have a drinking problem?’ – dum dum duuummm. Funny how the ones who decide not to put a carcinogenic substance in our bodies, are the ones with the problem…right?
Chalking up not drinking to a challenge helps with this adjustment period. It gives you some ammunition when the angry townies start running at you with their tequila pitchforks. And yes, while I agree that we do not NEED to justify our choices and actions to others, what I have come to find is preparing yourself ahead of time with thought-out responses helps deal with the social pressures and anxieties which might arise during this time. You might even be surprised at how many people react positively towards this. A lot of people secretly toy with the idea as well, and you might be the one to motivate them to take this leap too!
IT’S A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME
Now whilst some would argue that these ‘short’ month long stints of giving up drinking are not long enough to experience the awesomeness of alcohol-free life, and that short burst abstinence stints can cause excessive rebound drinking afterward, I would agree and disagree with this mentality.
Yes, so many incredible rewards start becoming a lot more tangible and evident after a slightly longer period of time – i.e. you start to lose weight, you start saving a lot of money, your anxiety levels drop, and you start being able to focus on projects you never had time for. And yes, some people might use alcohol-free stints or months to justify their excessive drinking for the rest of the year.
BUT. I truly believe that we need to get a feel for something, before we buy into it. So alcohol-free periods give us the opportunity to experiment with this way of life, without a lifetime commitment – which can be pretty overwhelming. I know the first time I stopped drinking was for a 1 month stint in a in a mindfulness retreat in Thailand, and then when I came home, I carried on for another month on my own. And although I started drinking again for a few months after this, the seed had been firmly planted in my mind. It was only months later that I decided that I wanted to give up alcohol for good and I have enjoyed 20 incredible alcohol-free months since. Easily one of the best decision I’ve ever made.
MORE CASH DOLLA BILLS
When you ditch booze, you end up spending a LOT less money than you did before. Not only from saving your precious pennies from the exorbitant spirits, cocktails, shots and countless beers that eat them up, but also from the associated Uber costs, late night drunken fast food binges, and the hangover foods and cures the next day. I worked out that I saved around R3000 a month ($220) from making this small change (this is a lot more for other heavier drinkers, as well as those outside of South Africa where alcohol is a lot more expensive). This is something that becomes evident after just 1 month off alcohol, now, imagine what you would do with that cash over a few months, or over a year? Perhaps you wanted to go travelling for a few weeks? Or buy a house? Suddenly these things become a lot more attainable!
DROP THOSE EXTRA KILOS
If you have tried to lose weight before, you will know how disruptive drinking can be to this process. So many of us eat healthy in the week, we go to gym, and do our best, but when the weekend rolls by we end up drinking, and suffering the consequences afterwards. A boozy Friday turns into weekend hangover with junk food binges and healthy weekend activities thrown out of the window (remember those hikes with friends you cancelled?).
When you give up alcohol, your healthy efforts of the week instead can roll into even more healthy, activity-filled weekends! I hardly ever craved fast food when I stopped drinking. I had so much more energy on the weekends to do the things I had planned (without the anxiety of having to cancel plans). And the weight started to come off. Over the last 20 month period I have lost around 13 kilos, and am lighter than I have been in 14 years.
To be fair, this process might take a while to kick in and 1 month might not be enough time for you to see the results you are looking for. Often when we give up alcohol we crave a lot of sugar (which we were getting before in the form of frozen margaritas). I’m of the opinion that if you need to replace sugary treats for a brief period of time while adjusting to non-drinking then I say why the hell not. Giving up sugar and alcohol might be too much to ask at first. However, if your aim is to lose weight during this time, then you are going to want to try drop the sugar too. But either way, go gently on yourself, and do whatever feels comfortable and manageable for you!
AMPLE TIME TO DO THE THINGS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO DO
When you stop drinking, you become very conscious of just how much time and energy that drinking, and drinking-related activities and habits take from our precious weeks and weekends.
Evenings where you would usually be drinking a few glasses of wine, suddenly become a lot clearer, and you have more ability to focus on other activities – perhaps cooking, reading, spending time with your family, and in my case writing. Weekends also suddenly start freeing up – instead of wasting away your weekend hungover on the couch (again), you wake up earlier and have a lot more energy to partake in fun activities or develop hobbies – such as drawing or brewing up batches of Kombucha which are some I enjoy. Suddenly those business plans you have been mulling over in your mind, start coming to the fore, and those activities you never had money or time to spend on, you start to realize you do.
When I stopped drinking, in a matter of days I had built my blog, written tons of articles, drawn out a business plan, and started to teach myself IT and graphic design. I became a machine of productivity, and suddenly started to thrive on weekends filled with activity.
Now, whilst there are so many more other benefits of stopping drinking which could be around more spiritual purposes, getting back to a life of value and principles, ‘finding ourselves’, or perhaps in supporting someone else in our life who is not drinking (a friend dealing with addiction, or perhaps a partner who is pregnant), the reasons behind this are varied!
If this is something you want to try, joining an online support group can be a great way to connect with others who are doing the same which is why I have created a Dry Space Ocsober Challenge online group which anyone can join free of charge where we will walk this process together, and have a lot of fun in the process.
Having seen the incredible shifts in my life, if I can share a tiny glimmer of what I have experienced with others, then I feel I have done my job. I remember the first person that introduced me to alcohol-free living. She planted a seed which grew and grew. It all starts with a conversation, an idea, an intention.
Who knows, perhaps it could start with this blog?
To take part in our Oscober challenge please email your name and confirmation to email@example.com before the 29th September!