Dry January is the UK’s one month alcohol-free challenge. After all the excess of Christmas and New Year you may be ready to give up the booze for January also.
In the past, I have attempted Dry January many times but only managed to stay the course for about two weeks before I would make up an excuse to drink.
Heard of any of these?
“I’ve got a party to go to next week”
“2 weeks is enough time to detox”
“I’ll have a drink tonight and tag an extra day on at the end of the month”
These are all just excuses.
Anyone should be able to stop drinking alcohol for a month. If you are making up excuses to drink or find it really difficult to stop for a month. Then it is even more important you question your relationship with alcohol and quit the booze, isn’t it?
If you normally sail through the month of January with no thoughts of drinking alcohol at all then congratulations, I salute you. I imagine alcohol doesn’t play a major role in your life. Is it even worth drinking again after 31 January? After all, alcohol brings no benefits to the table.
However, if like me you tend to white knuckle it through January desperate to get to the end so you can drink again. Then you have to question how dependant you are on alcohol and the hold it has over you. More than ever, you need to take a break and give your mind and body the rest it deserves.
I have learned that there is a hard way and an easy way to do Dry January. The hard way is to white knuckling it or the easy way is with support and useful tools.
Choose the easy way this Dry January.
First, start with making a commitment that you are going alcohol free for the month of January. Making this commitment means you have set an intention and it will help focus your mind to achieve the desired outcome.
Anyone still sitting on the fence or just going to see what happens will probably fail or at best find it difficult. This is because you have left drinking as an option. Start by making a definite decision that you will not drink this January.
Second, you need some accountability. Now, you don’t have to sing it from the roof tops or tell all your Facebook or Instagram friends that you are doing Dry January but it is worth telling someone.
If you are doing Dry January for charity then great. You definitely have accountability but if this is a personal goal then tell a loved one or friend what you are doing. Sharing what you intend to do will help deter you from giving up so easily. Even better, try to get them to do Dry January with you.
Next, get prepared and decide in advance how you will handle your cravings. It’s going to happen at some point. Your resolve not to drink will be tested. What are you going to do when that happens? It’s best to have a plan or you may just fall back into old habits.
If you can, remove all the alcohol from your house or at least put it out of sight. Stock up with some nice alcohol free (AF) alternatives or try something completely new.
Having some AF beer or wine at hand or the ingredients to mix up some nice mocktails will help when a craving strikes. My favourite drink is Cranberry, Lime & Soda Water. Not too sweet and easy to make. I also love to try lots of different teas.
A lot of the time people drink because they think they need it to relax, de-stress, sleep or manage anxiety. It is worth finding different coping mechanisms to manage this as alcohol does not help at all in the long run.
When you feel like you need a drink or ideally before it gets to that point, try to go out doors for a walk. Even ten minutes outside changes your mood and mindset.
Avoid too much news and screen time. Instead read a book, watch a movie, write in a journal or pick up the phone and talk to someone in person.
Meditation is good too but not everyone’s cup of tea. When you get overwhelmed or crave a drink sneak off to a quiet space for a while and just breathe.
When I need a moment of peace from my noisy family or I just need to calm down, I hide in the bathroom and take some deep breaths. It works every time.
Lastly, I advise you not to do too much. January is the month of change; where we make resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, lose weight, change jobs etc… But please don’t do too much at once as you can easily get overwhelmed and fail.
As tempting as it is to make all these changes, Just stick with Dry January for now as it is the small changes that lead to more lasting results.
Good luck this Dry January. You have a plan now and I know you can do it.