It’s the end of the year and you partied like it’s 1999. Wait. No, you didn’t. There was no massive party this year. No hitting the dance floor with the girls. That Rona is still here and so chanes are you kept it small. So maybe it was Zoom cocktail hours, red wine with your favorite tv character or re-discovering jello shots with your roomies. If you feel like you might want to cut back on your drinking consider Dry January.
Started in 2012 by Alcohol Change UK they describe it as a way to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.” And taking drinking off the table for a limited period really allows you to really see if it’s an issue for you. Many people who have done Dry January have reported that they drink less in general afterwards.
Beyond those reasons also consider Dry January:
If you’re anxious and not sleeping well.
Yes, there’s a pandemic –and plenty of reasons for your anxiety and insomnia. But did you know that alcohol, despite the fact that we’re told the opposite, actually hurts your sleep and can cause anxiety?
If you want to do a “check in” on your drinking.
You don’t have a drinking problem per se, but you know alcohol can become problematic over time. Deciding to not drink for a month can be a great gut check to make sure you’re not drinking as a crutch or to avoid bigger issues.
Because there are health ramifications to drinking…and they’re kind of major.
Despite the idea that a little wine every day is in fact good for you, recent science is questioning this. According to a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, alcohol was the leading risk factor for early death in 2016 for people aged 15 to 49. Alcohol use caused death by injury, by self-harm and by worsening tuberculosis in this group, the team found. And this study found that men who drank heavily as teenagers had three times the risk of developing prostate cancer later in life.
Don’t believe it? Look at these divas: Rupaul, J-Lo and Naomi Campbell all thrive without drugs or alcohol. This is company worth keeping!
One reason not to do it.
If you have been binge-drinking or drinking excessively, going “cold turkey” might not be the way to do it and you might want to consult with a professional counselor for recommendations.
If you decide to try Dry January (or sober October or stopping drinking for any reason) here are a few helpful suggestions.
Get a friend to join you and/or hold you accountable.
We need to preface this by saying for the sake of your relationships do not talk endlessly about how you’re not drinking and making it a big deal. Whether you mean it to or not, it can easily come across as “virtue signalling” and you’ll think that you’re not invited to brunch because you’re not drinking mimosas when it’s really because you won’t shut up about not drinking mimosas. Don’t. be. That. Person. Do talk to a close friend or your SO in a casual way and see if they’d be interested in joining you. It’s always easier to do something like this together.
Consider prepping by writing about it in your journal before you start.
Why are you doing it? What do you hope to achieve personally? Do you see any roadblocks along the way and how can you prepare?
Read This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life by Annie Grace.
Seriously, this is hands down the best book for examining your relationship with alcohol. We can’t recommend it enough.
Don’t be upset if you have a drink.
Yes, you read that right. This is why people say not to have New Year’s Resolutions. Because we’re setting ourselves up for failure. But choosing not to drink, for whatever length of time, even if you have an accountability partner, is between you and you. Instead of beating yourself up look at the event like you’re a research scientist or a martian studying a human. “Oh, that’s interesting. Why did they do that?” Journal about it.
Get additional support
This could be a therapist or a support group at your school or work. For an online option we like Tempest which is a mix of a community and classes for people interested in changing their relationship with alcohol but don’t necessarily identify as “alcoholics”.
Ultimately, any habit change like this is an opportunity for self-discovery and if you approach it like that you can’t lose.