The Ocsober Experiment: giving up alcohol for a month

@Kaboom Pics

I should probably start this post with the disclaimer that I don’t consider myself a big drinker. I never really have been.

A typical week for me would involve one or two glasses of wine and/or a G&T most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. We don’t usually drink between Monday and Thursday. I don’t like feeling out of control, so I definitely know my limits when it comes to alcohol and would rarely have more than three drinks in one night. I think the last time I drank enough to make me feel sick was probably about a decade ago (let’s face it, hangovers just aren’t as fun as they used to be when you become a parent and have to get up to small children at the crack of dawn).

Having said that, I know I have been drinking more in the past two years than I ever have before.

I’m pretty in tune with messages from the Universe, the whispers with a recurring theme, and I’m quite aware when topics keeping popping up for me. Having a break from drinking alcohol had definitely been one of those topics for me this year. So when Tiffany Han, a podcaster I follow for her wisdom on creative branding, started talking about her experiences of giving up alcohol, I stopped to listen. Similarly, she wasn’t a big drinker, but she felt like she was spending a lot of time and energy thinking about the next drink she’d have.

I knew for a while that I wanted to at least try giving up alcohol, but it honestly felt too hard. It had become so ingrained in our household rituals – a glass of wine to end the working week on a Friday night, or a G&T to relax on a Sunday afternoon. A glass when parenting felt too hard and we needed to take the edge off. Without alcohol, what would I do to mark those occasions or get through more challenging moments?

At the end of August, we indulged in a week of relaxing in beautiful Fiji and made the most of cocktails by the pool or a sunset drink. Pretty soon, that rolled into the school holidays and camping at the beach, where we enjoyed G&Ts with nibbles at the end of each day. And before long it felt like there were more drinking days than not-drinking days.

And so as October approached, I decided that I’d give up alcohol for the month. It’s quite common to hear of people giving up alcohol for a period of time – trendy even, these days. Febfast, Dry July, and Ocsober are all associated with a charity campaign. (I didn’t know Ocsober was a thing at the time I decided to give it up, but it is a really good cause – helping reduce drug and alcohol related harm in young people.)

Over the course of my sober October, I tried to pay attention to the moments where I felt like I ‘needed’ a drink. What were the feelings behind those moments where I ordinarily would have poured a drink in order to feel better? There were definitely a few moments during a week when Ben was away overseas where I felt like solo-parenting and non-drinking were completely incompatible. But I made it through…just 😉

There were a few big, highly anticipated social events on in the very last weekend of the month so I had a caveat that I was allowed to drink at those events. Surprisingly enough, I actually didn’t feel like drinking when I got to the first event and still had a really fun time, and enjoyed feeling good the next day. I did have two drinks at the second event.

@Kaboom Pics

Here are some other observations I noted throughout the month:

  • It actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to not drink for a whole month. Turns out I’m actually pretty good at setting my mind to something and making it happen – or, in this case, making it not happen – when I want to. I feel lucky that this is the case for me.
  • It can be highly convenient to not drink and therefore not have to worry about transport arrangements, etc. I’ve no doubt it also saved me money not buying alcohol or paying for Uber fares.
  • I really enjoyed feeling much more clear headed, sleeping better and not being as tired over the weekends.
  • I possibly drank more lime cordial than I ever have in the past.
  • For the first little while, I felt the need to explain to those I was socialising with why I wasn’t drinking. By the second half of the month, I realised that I didn’t need to make excuses for not drinking alcohol. It is interesting to note how ingrained alcohol is in our social lives, though.
  • I have noticed that when I drink less alcohol, I eat better and feel like exercising more, so it definitely has positive flow-on effects. Who knew.

October is now over and, yes, I have had a drink since. But probably only one. And while I don’t feel the need to give up alcohol permanently, the past month definitely helped me reassess how alcohol fits into my life, and I’m really glad I had the break.

If you feel like you need a break from alcohol too, you’re hearing whispers from the Universe, and are waiting for a sign, then maybe this is it. I figure if I can do it, anyone can.

Just don’t ask me to try giving up coffee 😉

If you are concerned that alcohol is a problem in your life and you need some support, please call one of the numbers listed on this Drink Wise website. (This is not a sponsored post).

  • Well done, you! I’m not a big drinker either – in the sense that I almost never drink at home and only ever at social functions which rarely go to because I’m always at home! I can go months without drinking and I don’t think about it. However, I find it very difficult not to drink at social events – I worry people will notice and that I’ll be boring. It’s certainly part of our culture.