Greetings, Pals, and welcome to my top tips on completing a successful Dry January!
Three years ago, I was making some serious plans to do a year with no alcohol whatsoever. With all the support Dry January offers, I thought it was the perfect place to start. Now, after three pretty successful booze-free years, I'm not planning to give up my sobriety any time soon. It's exciting to see where this journey takes me next.
I'd always been a social drinker & prided myself on often being the last one standing. Of course, this is always followed by the inevitable day after in bed, subsisting on a large Domino's and Netflix and litre after litre of fizzy water. After too many weekends like this, a burgeoning beer gut, and some serious sleep issues, I decided to quit drinking alcohol. Not one to do things by halves, I set myself the task of stopping for a whole year. Scary stuff!
(Live scenes of me pretty much every weekend before quitting drinking)
So how was my first year, you ask? Amazing! What I really wanted to get out of this was an understanding of why I drank, what that was doing to me and take some time to work on myself. What I will say is; running your own business for six years really does start to take its toll!
Now, three years and a worldwide pandemic later, I'm more grateful than ever to be sober. I feel pretty good (which, given everything that's happened this year, is no small thing)!
For most of this year, I've slept really well (I found that this improved as early on as two weeks after quitting, so you too can look forward to this). Before, I had terrible insomnia, often spending 3 or 4 nights a week wide awake. I've also been feeling really motivated to plan my meals and make sure I'm looking after my body with lots of fresh food. I'm even considering a new challenge this year and might attempt Veganuary!
The best thing about my sobriety this year has been becoming so much better at emotionally handling sticky situations (these cropped up a lot in 2020). I'm definitely feeling ready to take on 2021 with a new resolve (and say goodbye to a very challenging 2020).
So, here are my top tips for you to get yourself to the 31st without a sip of the hard stuff!
- Write down how you feel on Jan 1st.
This is the thing that really helped me through my year. I know a lot of us are planning a big night on NYE, and that's going to lead to lots of us feeling pretty crummy come Jan 1st. Write it all down – every gory detail of how crap you feel and why you don't want to feel like that for the rest of the month – and refer back to it when you think you want to quit. Trust me, it'll help put you off that icy cold pint or gin & tonic at the pub.
2. Plan ahead for the month and get yourself some Dry January treats.
Nothing makes Dry January worse than feeling like you're missing out on all the delicious things you would usually be drinking. Why not order yourself some treats now, so when you get home from a long day, your fridge is already full of tasty delights? I put together our Make Dry January Awesome pack for just this reason, but there are many other sites out there specialising in AF drinks. I get a monthly box of AF beers from Alcohol Free Beer Club (I'm a sucker for the Mikkeller alcohol-free and Nirvana Beers). They usually land towards the end of the month, so they'd be a great thing to treat yourself to as a reward for making it almost to the end of the month (or even something to get you back on track if you've slipped).
3. Organise some socialising that doesn't centre around alcohol.
For me, the worst thing about January is the long nights spent inside doing nothing. Pandemic permitting, IMO, you should be celebrating what a great job you're doing and plan some fun things to do with your friends. Why not host a movie watch along with your pals and coordinate the snacks and drinks, take a walk around your nearest hidden gem (I'm planning on heading to Richmond Park for the first time ever) or, test your brain power with a virtual adventure game (honestly, this looks like so much fun!).
4. Claim back your Saturday mornings.
This year, I'm planning on getting up early and adding some miles in on my lifetime goal of walking around the coastal paths of the UK. Living in London there are some really easy to access parts of the coast, so I'm planning on ticking them off this January. Now, that's a lot of effort so, if walking 20 miles a day doesn't do it for you, find your own thing – it could be a virtual morning Yoga session, cooking a really elaborate breakfast (croissants from scratch anyone?) or how about finding a virtual Saturday morning class?! Whatever your bag is, get yourself up and at 'em and celebrate being fuzzy head free.
5. Don't give up if you stumble.
Perhaps I've made it sound effortless to do this? It's not! And that's totally OK but, the critical thing to remember here is not to give up. I wouldn't have made it a whole year if I'd given up at the first sign of trouble (I cracked several times in my first year - you try cycling across the beer mecca that is Belgium and ending up in the final bar only to be told that the only alcohol-free option is Coca Cola...) What you should know is, it's ultimately down to facing these stumbling blocks and pushing through them, that helped me make it to where I am now (and you can too!)
And that's me! All I have left to say now is good luck, & don't F it up!