You’re probably pretty familiar with Dry January. In fact, you might be one of the 15% of Americans who participate in Dry January every year. You might even be well-aware of all of the benefits of taking a break from alcohol, which is why you’re a fan. Or perhaps you were really excited to learn about Sober September last year and participated in that. But in 2021? We need more because let’s face it: it’s been a rough year and a half and all the self-care we can get is necessary! We need a Sober October.
But what exactly IS Sober October, where did it come from, and how can you participate this year?
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Why is 2021 the perfect year for Sober October?
We are still struggling with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the necessary uprisings over racial injustice and police brutality, and the catastrophic effects of climate change. There have been reports of anxiety on the rise, and it’s difficult for some to handle anxiety without using alcohol. A lot of us are still isolated from family and friends for the most part, which can cause some to drink more as they use alcohol as a coping mechanism. Likewise, this can cause others to drink again if they’re already sober.
Although not much is currently known about the numbers of people who increased their alcohol intake during the lockdown, The Lancet reports that “heightened financial difficulties, social isolation, uncertainty about the future, and the redistribution of the health workforce and the disruption to clinical services could contribute to increased alcohol intake and relapse under lockdown conditions.”
Needless to say, we’re all stressed out about the state of the world, and if you’re not sober, alcohol may have recently become a more frequent coping mechanism than before. But you probably already know deep down that it may not be the best coping mechanism, and maybe you need a break. That’s where Sober October 2021 comes in.
Where did Sober October come from?
Sober October originally came to the U.S. from overseas. In 2010, the Australian non-profit Life Education created the fundraiser “October”. Shortly after the U.K.-based charity Macmillan Cancer Support created the actual name “Sober October”, according to InStyle.
The original goal for these organizations was to create fundraising efforts. People who signed up to give up alcohol for the entire month of October (yes, all 31 days!) could set up a giving page where their friends and family could make donations. Ultimately, it was meant to encourage a healthier lifestyle.
Eventually, because you don’t have to live Down Under or across the pond to participate, Sober October spread to the U.S. You also don’t have to sign up with one of the two fundraising groups to participate. In fact, we have another idea…
How can I participate in Sober October?
As with Dry January, all you really need in order to participate in Sober October is to stop drinking for 31 days. Sounds easy, right? On the surface it is, but it can be a little more complicated than that. For one, it may be helpful to understand the difference between “going dry” (which is what you’d be doing in Sober October) and being in recovery. Secondly, suddenly quitting alcohol—even briefly—may require some extra support if you’ve never done it before, and that’s completely okay!
If you’re serious about Sober October this year, you can sign up for the Tempest program to help you reset this season with an alcohol-free month. Our Membership is a supportive online community where you’ll receive weekly lessons, journal prompts, and inspiration directly to your inbox so that you can rock a Sober October all month long.
More importantly, you can devote yourself to a month of self-care and self-reflection. Take this opportunity to pause, reflect, and consider the role alcohol plays in your life. And having a little support while doing this? Well, that’s even better.
Are there benefits to taking a “break from alcohol”?
Month-long challenges like Dry January and Sober October are part of the larger wellness trends that have been circulating lately (such as being sober curious). As Refinery29 reports, some people are simply abstaining from alcohol for health reasons. Although we don’t really agree that sobriety is a trend, we do support anyone who wants to reevaluate their relationship to alcohol by stopping drinking for a period of time and then seeing how you feel afterward.
For some, living alcohol-free for a month simply isn’t enough. Still, it can be a good place to start. All you need is to commit to a break from alcohol, meaning that you give up alcohol for a short period of time.
- reduce your risk of liver damage
- improve glucose balance
- lower cancer-promoting proteins in your blood
Plus, taking a break from alcohol during Sober October can improve your sleep since drinking interferes with your sleep cycle and REM sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation. Another possible benefit? Better skin, according to InStyle. On an emotional and mental level, giving up alcohol for a month can mean a general improvement to your mental health, according to Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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In short, the benefits of taking a short break from drinking might be the change you’ve been looking for. If this sounds like something you’d like to try, we encourage you to do so! You never know where it may lead. This year, we’re also teaming up with Athletic Brewing to jumpstart your journey. Not only will you receive two 6-packs of their nonalcoholic beer, but you’ll also get a copy of Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker, Tempest Founder.