Sober October has come around once again however no one could have predicted quite how this month would have looked for them this time last year. The unprecedented outcomes of this year have been overwhelming for many, having experienced or related to the challenges of lockdown, loss of jobs and substantial earnings, social distancing and being apart from family and friends. This is in addition to adapting to working from home, homeschooling and adjusting to new working practices. All this on top of the prospect of becoming ill ourselves or the virus affecting our loved ones. That’s a whole lot more stress in one year than most people have dealt with in their lifetime.
Sadly, it seems that further uncertainties are still to come with the virus continuing to spread despite the best efforts of communities and governments around the world. And as the colder weather draws in, many of us will be looking forward to our home comforts to help us through the next difficult few months. For some, reaching for the gin at the end of a hard day or cracking open a bottle of wine with a nice meal has become the norm, but these habits, although comforting, are not necessarily good ones.
Sober for October is an important date in health-related awareness calendars every year, in conjunction with the charity Macmillan Cancer Support. Alcohol consumption varies greatly between individuals but one thing that is brought about by this particular awareness month is a reflection on the amount that we and those around us actually drink. The month-long initiative gives people the chance to see just how much alcohol has become part of their lifestyle and what benefits introducing a break from alcohol could bring. Over the past years, the initiative forms part of a sponsorship challenge for monetary donations to support cancer patients if the challenger can see out the full month without drinking alcohol.
But this year, the Go Sober campaign is offering some new options, including a ‘Soberish October’. Recognizing that this year is a particularly challenging time for people and that going a full month may be too hard going for some, they have added the extra choice of taking part for 14 or 21 days instead. But whatever your pledge the initiative will not only be creating awareness and mindfulness of the importance of drinking alcohol in moderation, it will also be raising much needed money for cancer patients.
So, after an unprecedented year so far has the pandemic encouraged more drinking? The stress and anxiety brought about from the coronavirus as well as spending more time at home has certainly led to more opportunities to drink at home. It may now have formed a staple part of activities including during weekly Zoom catch ups with friends, small social gatherings and socially distanced meet-ups between households or in public places.
People are living with the constant uncertainty of whether their area will become another ‘COVID-19 Hot Spot’ meaning that even heavier restrictions across the institutions and venues we have just been able to return to will once again come into force. The question is do these circumstances trigger or withdraw us from alcohol consumption? Are people fighting to be out in social environments making the most of this time in case of further lockdowns or has this encouraged more people to drink at home instead, thus creating a new and far more dangerous habit.
There is no denying that one of the perks of staying at home during lockdown has been the opportunity to undertake some home improvements. In fact, one of the most sought after luxuries came in the form of an ‘at home bar’. But with cases reported to be rising in the US, UK and Europe and evidence of a second wave hitting during the colder, winter months, will the doom and gloom cause many to reach for more alcohol to see them through? There was some light-hearted news reporting over the rise in ‘day drinking’ during the hotter weather experienced earlier in lockdown as people enjoyed their gardens and BBQs, but will it have quite the same feel good effect during the Winter, or will we see many people emerging in the springtime with a greater reliance on alcohol than ever before?
So what message will Sober for October bring for all us? What part does alcohol play in your life and particularly in light of the stress and worry brought about by COVID-19? Hopefully, it will provide the opportunity for many to review and reset their habits if they feel that alcohol has gained greater prominence than it should have. Alcohol is enjoyable in moderation, but if you feel that it is becoming a problem there is plenty of help and advice available to help you kick that bad habit back into shape.