We are excited to announce our first monthly challenge: no alcohol for all of October 2019. Or for those who share our love of rhyme: Sober ‘Tober.
Why Cut Booze?
Why have we singled out booze for this challenge? Isn’t a glass or two of red wine a night supposed to be good for your health? Isn’t the resveratrol in grape skins supposed to protect against aging, cancer, and heart disease? As in many things, the truth is nuanced.
Yes, some quantities of alcohol do seem to be beneficial for some people, but most of us would probably benefit from less C₂H₆O in our lives. How much better off could we be? That’s where this challenge comes in. Removing this chemical compound―and the accompanying social habits that go with it―for 31 days is enough time to start seeing significant effects and begin forming new alternative habits.
Ask Yourself the 3 Fundamental Questions
Whenever considering a change in our lives, we always ask ourselves the following three fundamental questions:
- Will this increase freedom and fulfillment?
- Will this increase long-term health and happiness?
- Will this reduce expenses or increase income?
So how does cutting alcohol hold up to these questions? Before committing to the challenge, please take a few minutes to answer the questions yourself. One size never fits all! But to help you get started, here are our answers for why we’ve decided to cut out booze for a month (and likely far beyond):
- Yes, cutting alcohol frees us from cravings, conformity, and social crutches. And choosing alternative stress reduction activities is more fulfilling than popping a bottle of wine.
- Yes, though a buzz might feel good in the short-term, it isn’t worth the long-term affects to our health and mental wellbeing. We care more about what feels good for 20 years, not 20 minutes.
- Yes, alcohol is expensive! And unlike food, it’s not a necessary expenditure. There are lots of free activities that are better for our health and bank account.
Who is the Sober ‘Tober Challenge For?
The Sober ‘Tober Challenge is for those who:
- Want to see how they feel without alcohol in their life for a full 31 days.
- Are unhappy with their current quantity or frequency of alcohol consumption.
- Turn to alcohol as a default way to alleviate stress, social anxiety, boredom, etc.
Note: This challenge is not intended for diagnosed alcoholics who must refrain from any alcohol consumption for life. We are respectful of the immense challenge alcoholics face and do not intend to make light of their struggle with this challenge.
That said, we know that there are lots of people in the middle of the spectrum who drink more (and more often) than they would like, but don’t necessarily fit traditional definitions of alcoholism. Just because you’ve never missed work due to booze, never gotten drunk in the morning, and never blacked out, it doesn’t mean you have a healthy relationship with ethanol. Like other legal drugs (e.g. sugar), alcohol can quickly evolve from an occasional, benign indulgence to a frequent, unhelpful habit.
Tips for Success
Here are some tips and to help you get the most out of the challenge:
- Look at this as an “experiment.” Bring the curiosity and ruthless honesty of a scientist. Focus on what you are adding into your life, not just what you’re taking out. See this as an exercise in possibility, not deprivation. This is a gift you are giving yourself.
- No shame, no blame. Alcohol is neither good nor bad, but it does have consequences. And this challenge is a great chance to better assess what those consequences are for you. You will then have the clarity to decide whether the benefits are worth the costs. But no matter what you decide during and after the challenge, please do not cast judgement on yourself or others, beat yourself up, or “should” all over yourself.
- Design your environment for success. Remove all alcohol from your house if possible. If you live with others who will not be joining the challenge, have them place their alcohol somewhere out of sight.
- Drink sparkling mineral water with lemon or lime slices. There are many non-alcoholic beverages to choose from, but our favorite is sparkling mineral water with a few slices of lemon or lime. It’s delightfully bubbly, flavorful, and full of health-giving vitamins and minerals.
- Leverage the power of protein. If you experience strong cravings for sugar or alcohol (which can be especially common 3 to 7 days into the challenge), try dissolving a half-teaspoon of L-Glutamine powder under your tongue. The amino acid helps curb cravings for many people, and as an added bonus, also supports gut health.
- Don’t break the chain. Use a habit tracking app like Streaks or a physical calendar to mark off each day you abstain from alcohol. As the comedian Jerry Seinfeld once observed:
- Don’t miss twice. While you should try your best to hit all 31 days of October, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you happen to slip up, resist the “F*ck It Phenomenon” in which you think, “To hell with it! I missed one day, so I failed! There’s no point in continuing the challenge.” This is what psychologists call “All-or-Nothing Thinking,” and it’s a common cognitive distortion that can lead to depression, anxiety, and all of manner of psychological suffering. Instead, accept the small gap in the chain, and just jump right back on the next day. As the habit expert James Clear puts it in his book Atomic Habits:
- Join the Flourish Fundamentals Community. Last but definitely not least, we strongly encourage you to join our private Facebook Group where you can ask questions and connect with people doing the challenge.