Welcome to Sober Spring!

Catherine Gray | March 2019 | 7 minutes

Read this welcome post from Sober Spring mastermind and bestselling author Catherine Gray.

Sober Spring, your three-month sabbatical from alcohol, is fast approaching.

If you're anything like I was, you'll likely feel a jumble of hope, anxiety, excitement and 'how will I pull this off?!' trepidation about the prospect of 93 whole days without our favourite national inhibition-eraser.

I approached Alcohol Change UK with the concept of Sober Spring because of my own experience of quitting drinking, back in 2013. While I undoubtedly felt healthier, happier and wealthier within the first few weeks of booting booze out of my life, I noticed that something magical happened around day 60. I began to relax into being alcohol-free more fully, it became a lot easier, and not drinking started to feel like my new normal.

While I undoubtedly felt healthier, happier and wealthier within the first few weeks of booting booze out of my life, I noticed that something magical happened around day 60.

I started digging around, investigating as to why this might be the case. Turns out that a UCL study found that while a new habit can become automatic within just 18 days in some cases, on average it takes 66 days for a new habit to become second nature.

Dry January has been shown to work; 7 out of 10 Brits who take part are still drinking more healthily six months later. But if you want to exact a life-changing overhaul of your drinking habits, if you want 'not drinking' to become your default, rather than 'drinking', then Sober Spring is a great idea. If you think you need more than a month to loosen your grip on the bottle, or if you want to test-drive an entirely alcohol-free life, Sober Spring is for you.

A three-month sabbatical also gives you the chance to experience the unexpected and supersized joys that a longer-term teetotal life can bring. Within a few weeks of not drinking, my sleep had become more deep-pile plush; but within a couple of months, I started sleeping for eight hours straight.

Within a month, my skin began to look brighter and clearer; within three months my cystic acne departed altogether. Within a month I'd saved over £500 by not drinking, if you factored in not just alcohol, but also third-glass-of-wine cigarettes, nightclub entry, £30 taxis home at 1am, and the following day fines for non-Classpass attendance and spontaneous hungover takeaways / boxset buys. Within three months, that 'money saved by not drinking' figure had mushroomed into the thousands.

Within a month of being alcohol-free, I felt the return of hope to my mindset; but within three months I felt damn-straight euphoric about the future. Alcohol is actually a depressant, and it's easy to forget that given all of the coasters, fridge magnets, t-shirts and greeting cards that equate it with fun.

If you want to exact a life-changing overhaul of your drinking habits, if you want 'not drinking' to become your default, rather than 'drinking', then Sober Spring is a great idea.

Another thing about Sober Spring is that you will inevitably need to learn to socialise sober. It's pretty easy to hunker down and hibernate for one month, swerving dinner parties, birthday drinks, networking events and weddings.

But if you take on three months, you will unavoidably encounter these without a drop of alcohol in your system. The first of these is always the hardest; at my first sober wedding, I was so exhausted by the effort of not drinking, that I left straight after the first dance. By my third sober wedding, I was leaping around the dancefloor so enthusiastically to Blur, that people were asking to sniff (and taste) my tonic water, since they didn't believe I could possibly be so carefree sober.

If you want drinking to become a social choice, rather than a necessity, then Sober Spring is for you. If you're starting to question whether boozing makes you blue, rather than happier, this will enable you to compare your drinking / non-drinking mental health and see the difference. If you're toying with the idea of going teetotal for good, but want a handy fallback excuse ('I'm doing Sober Spring') to dodge any intrusive questioning as to why you've deserted the drinkers, this is a gift of a campaign.

So, here's to a happy, healthy, wealthy Sober Spring. I'm cheers-ing you right now with my elderflower cordial. *Clink*

Catherine Gray is the author of The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober and the follow-up, interactive sequel, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober Journal.

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