Sober October is derived from a UK campaign aimed at raising awareness about alcohol consumption.
Going alcohol-free doesn’t have to be just for those in recovery.
According to Forbes, there are both mental and physical benefits to taking a month off from alcohol—and anyone can dial in on those benefits by taking part in Sober October.
The idea borrows from a popular campaign in the UK, where Go Sober for October acts as a way to raise awareness around alcohol consumption and is also part of a fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Sober October is a good opportunity for individuals to reset their bodies before the holiday season, as the holiday months often involve eating and drinking more than is recommended. The month of abstinence can also reset the body as the winter months approach, which, for some, can be draining and depressing.
For those who drink often and heavily, the idea of Sober October may sound intimidating. But, the Evening Standard notes, it’s doable if done in a safe manner.
Dr. Fiona Sim, former general practitioner and medical adviser to the non-profit Drinkaware, tells the Evening Standard that individuals should be aware of the dangers of quitting cold turkey.
“Because your body has been used to having lots of alcohol, you may experience some very nasty side effects, including trembling hands, headaches and lack of appetite,” she said. “The same can apply even if you’re a moderate drinker, although the side effects tend to more psychological, such as irritability and poor concentration. So unless you need to give up drinking quickly, you would probably find it better to cut down more slowly and steadily by having some drink-free days each week.”
Sim recommends telling those in your social circle the truth when participating in Sober October.
“Tell the people closest to you, because they’ll need to know why you turn down a drink of an evening, which you might not normally do,” she said. “Some people might even join you in stopping or cutting down their own drinking once they hear your story.”
It’s also important to remember that people who pass judgment on the decision may be facing issues of their own, Sim says.
“Like anything else in life, it’s important always to be yourself and not be swayed by other people judging you or by thinking they are judging you… So please remember that if you think people are going to judge you harshly for drinking less, it is those people who have the problem, not you.”
Sober October isn’t the only month designated for going alcohol-free. Also popular is Dry January, during which individuals abstain from drinking for the first month of the new year, as a way to reset and start off the year on a healthy foot.