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Your Guide to New Challenges this October: Sober for October & Stoptober

We’re all giving wellness our best shot, but sometimes life just gets in the way. With life slowly becoming more ‘normal’, we’ve all spent the last few months catching up with friends and family, and quite often that includes good food and a few drinks too.

We’re always being told to eat healthily, exercise more, stop smoking and cut down on alcohol. After an 18 month long pandemic, it’s something a lot of us have taken on board – or at least tried to.

Sometimes, it’s easier said than done and we need a little boost to make it happen. We all know that being as healthy as possible should be high on our priority list.

We know losing a few pounds and lowering our BMI would help us feel better within ourselves and that we should be exercising regularly. If you’re a smoker there are hundreds of reasons to quit for both your health and bank balance. If you drink regularly, you know that it’s probably best to try and cut down.

Looking after our health should be high on our priority list. So why not use October to do just that?

With Sober October and Stoptober taking place this month, we’re taking a look at what they are, why they’re done for such fantastic causes and what health benefits you can enjoy from taking part.

What is Sober October?

Sober October encourages people to go booze-free in October to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Macmillan, along with charities up and down the country, need our help more than ever before after the impact of Covid-19.

The devastating financial impact of coronavirus has left nearly 40% of charities and community groups in a worse financial situation. With fundraising events being cancelled over the last 18 months, it’s easy to see why. The pandemic has had a huge impact, with thousands of people having their cancer treatments delayed.

Macmillan Cancer Support are asking people to get involved in Sober October by going alcohol-free in October to raise money for people with cancer.

You can choose to have a Sober October by taking on the challenge for 14 or 21 days, or challenge yourself to take on the full 31 days. With options of how long to take the challenge for, it is easier to get involved than ever before.

No matter what you choose to give up, or how long you choose to go sober for, you will be raising vital funds to help Macmillan continue being there for the millions of people living with cancer in the UK right now.

Having a break from alcohol also has great benefits:

  • A clearer head
  • We’ve all said “I’m never drinking again” after a heavy night, and as we get older the hangovers don’t seem to shift as quickly as they did when we were 18. Give your body a break by taking a month off alcohol and raise money for charity as you go.

    • More energy
    Alcohol dehydrates the body and when you stop drinking completely, one of the first things you notice should be improved energy levels.

    • Better sleeping pattern
    Regular drinking can affect the quality of your sleep making you feel tired and sluggish. This is because drinking disrupts your sleep cycle. Giving up alcohol for a month will put a spring in your step each morning.

    • Weight loss
    If you worked out how many calories you consume during a night in the pub, you’d be shocked, especially if you track the calorie content of your food during the week. There are around 600 calories in a bottle of wine, the equivalent of 3 glazed ring Krispy Kremes!

    • Sense of achievement
    The sense of achievement you would take away from going sober in October would be brilliant, especially if you raise money for such a worthy cause whilst you’re at it.

    • More time on your hands
    You’ll have time to fit in a morning gym class or weekend run, go out for brunch with friends or learn something new once you’ve banished those horrible hangovers.

    • A happier bank balance
    We all look at our bank balance after a night out and think “why?!”. By giving those alcoholic drinks a miss, just think how much you’ll save. So close to Christmas, it can be an extra bit of cash to pop into your savings for festive food and presents for your loved ones.

    • A healthier you
    With a clearer head, clearer skin and free from hangovers, you’ll be feeling on top of the world!

    You can find out more about going Sober for October here.

    Quit Smoking this Stoptober

    Stoptober is a 28-day stop smoking challenge initiated by Public Health England to encourage smokers to ditch the habit. It’s inspired by figures that show those who stop smoking for 28 days or more are 5x more likely to quit for good.

    The campaign aims to help smokers by raising awareness of the benefits of quitting and the tools that are available to help them go smoke free. Whether you are looking to quit smoking yourself or to support someone you love, there are lots of helpful resources to look at throughout the month. Stoptober is the perfect time to start.

    Most smokers know that it’s the nicotine in cigarettes that gets you addicted to smoking. However, it’s also often breaking the habit that is the hardest part about quitting smoking. If you look forward to breaks in your day where you usually enjoy a cigarette or are in a social circle that smokes, it makes it even harder to quit.

    The Best Way to Quit Smoking for Stoptober

    This depends entirely on the individual. Some people may find that powering through and going cold turkey without any nicotine replacements is the best way for them to stop.

    Others might find that they just need to stave off the nicotine cravings by replacing cigarettes with a vape at first, or a nicotine patch.

    Think about your habits and look at the various options available to weigh up which tools you think will work for you. You can always try different things out to see what works best.

    Quitting is always going to take willpower, so make sure everyone around you supports your decision – even try and get your family and friends involved too!

    Tips for Quitting Smoking

    1) Get rid of everything

    One of the first things you can do is to remove all smoking paraphernalia from your home, car, bags and workplace. Even looking at a lighter can tempt you to buy more cigarettes, so getting rid of everything can help.

    Letting your friends and family know that you’re trying to quit can be a great idea. Their support could make the difference between you caving or making the 28 days smoke-free.

    2) Find your local stop smoking service

    The NHS provides a free stop smoking service which offers one-to-one or group support to help you quit. Contact your GP for any support you think you might need.

    3) Keep a diary

    Taking notes of your health and how you are feeling can help you realise how far you’ve come and give you the motivation to continue. Quitting can have a positive effect on your health even after just a few days.

    4) Save the money you’d usually spend

    Set aside the money you would have spent on cigarettes in a savings account or piggy bank. You’ll soon see your savings grow and it’s a great motivator to continue. You can then put that money towards something you wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford such as extra gifts at Christmas or a holiday to look forward to next summer.

    5) Replace cigarette time with something else

    Take 5 minutes out to make a phone call to a friend or make yourself something nice for lunch. Lots of people also use things like lollipops or chewing gum to satisfy the craving.

    Overall, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Many smokers worry about putting on weight when they quit smoking which will not necessarily be the case.

    You can use the NHS Quit Smoking app this Stoptober to help you quit smoking, allowing you to track your progress, see how much you would have spent and get daily support. You can find out more about it here.

    The impacts on your life insurance

    Quitting smoking can have a positive impact on your life insurance premiums and reduce the amount you pay. It’s not impossible to get life insurance if you are a smoker, but you will find that you pay more than non-smokers.

    Your smoker status will have an influence on an insurer’s decision to offer you cover as it puts you at a higher risk of developing a medical condition along the line if you smoke.

    A non-smoker could pay as little as half of what a smoker applying for the same cover would pay, so it is well worth using Stoptober as the starting point for you giving up for good. To get lower premiums, you need to be smoke-free for at least 12 months to class as a ‘non-smoker’, so once Stoptober ends, keep it up!

    If you are looking for life insurance and want more information, The Insurance Surgery can help. Our expert team can look at your lifestyle and personal circumstances to find you the best cover. We are the UK’s No.1 Specialist Life Insurance Broker for those with medical conditions or dangerous occupations, and can guide you through the process. As a broker, we do all the hard work for you and can shop around to find you the best policy.

    To start the application process, fill in our online quote form or call us on 0800 083 2829.

    Top tips to get through October

    Whether you’re giving Sober for October or Stoptober a go this month, it can be difficult. We’ve put together some tips to help you achieve your goals and make it through the month with ease.

    • Believe in yourself
    We all have that element of self-doubt when it comes to new challenges or making changes in our lives so it’s completely normal to feel apprehensive when you set yourself the challenge of no alcohol or no cigarettes for an entire month. Believe in yourself and you can do anything!

    • Get your friends on board
    Having a support network around you can help you in lots of ways! They can be your biggest supporters or biggest liabilities if you’re determined to succeed. Make sure your friends are on side and even get them to take the challenge with you!

    • Change your environment
    Studies have shown that people who have the most willpower actually use it the least. Shaping your surroundings means you’re less likely to come into contact with temptation. In other words, don’t go out into the smoking area at work if you’re trying to give up smoking and try to do activities with friends that don’t include the pub.

    • Have a plan for alternatives
    If you do find yourself in the pub, why not have a look at the mocktail menu and try something a little more adventurous than a lemonade. It will make you enjoy your time a lot more!

    • Break up the month into smaller chunks
    Small goals make everything a lot more achievable. Instead of thinking of it as a 31 day challenge, take it day by day or week by week and reward yourself when you reach each milestone.

    • Remember why you’re doing it
    Whatever your reasons for going sober or quitting smoking, remembering why you’re doing it will always help you continue. Think of how much money you have raised for such a good cause every time you feel like you’re going to break. On top of this, think about the quality of life you are likely to achieve for you, your family and your children.

    If you’re going Sober for October or giving Stoptober a go this year, good luck from everyone at The Insurance Surgery!