Hi there you.
It seems like such a good idea doesn’t it, this Dry January thing. You know that December is the month of excess. You’re still getting over the hangover from last weekend. That Christmas pub crawl seemed like a good idea at the time. You donned your best sparkly Christmas jumper, stuck the mistletoe headband on, and got your dancing shoes on. 6 glasses of wine and a couple of Christmas Mojitos later, and you weren’t doing much dancing!
But you seem to be laughing in all the photos that Helen and Sarah posted on Facebook. So you must have been having fun, right?
So why did you wake up on Saturday morning feeling anxious and miserable. Not to mention dehydrated and exhausted, with half your memories of the night erased?
And you still don’t feel quite right now, even a few days later.
You know that there is going to be more drinking over the coming days. It’s Christmas, right? It’s what you’re supposed to do isn’t it?
It’s all part of the fun…. Or at least, it always used to be. 25 year old you lived for this time of year. The parties, the sparkle, the drinks a-plenty!
But it’s different now. Drinking doesn’t feel as much fun as it used to. It hurts much more the day after. You feel bloated and uncomfortable. There are times when you could swear that you can hear your liver groaning as you drink another glass of wine.
25 year old you could stay up partying till daybreak and get on with her day quite happily. 50 year old you feels like you’ve been clobbered after a normal night in the pub!
So maybe, just maybe, drinking isn’t as much fun anymore.
Maybe the toll it takes on your physical and mental wellbeing isn’t worth the drunken laughs anymore.
But it’s a daunting thing, to imagine a life without it, isn’t it? When your whole life has got alcohol build into the foundations of it in various ways. It’s part of your social life, your relaxation and stress relief, part of your identity. You are much more than your drinking habits, of course.
But apart from when you made or fed your babies, you haven’t had much time when you weren’t a drinker since it was legal. And a few years before that too!
Who will you be if you don’t go to the pub with the girls on a Saturday night? Do you know how to relax on a Friday night without that bottle of wine? How do you have fun if you’re not drinking as you do it? What do you do in those moments when life feels dark and heavy and only the numbing from a few glasses of Shiraz can bring some light?
You know that it’s possible to be sober and enjoy life. Jill in the office quit drinking about 2 years ago, and she is always talking about how much happier she is.
But that’s her. Would it work for you too? You’re not sure?
So maybe giving Dry January a go is a good idea. It’s only a month. You can do a month, can’t you?
A month of no wine. It can’t be that hard, can it?
At the moment, you wouldn’t say that you drink a LOT. But you always have a bottle of wine on a Friday evening to unwind after the week in work. And there’s the pub night with the girls on a Saturday. Your Sunday lunch and glass or two at the Black Lion with the in laws on Sunday. Oh, and there are always a couple of glasses of wine at book club every Wednesday.
When you look at it….
Might be more than you’d be willing to tell your doctor.
So maybe you could give Dry January a go.
Maybe you need to.
So how can you make sure it’s fun, and that you don’t give up out of boredom or stress after the first week?
Here are a few simple tips that can help you prepare for a successful Dry January.
Get really clear on why you’re doing this. Is it for your health? Is it to save money after the Christmas spend? Is it to prove to yourself you can do it? There could be any number of reasons to want to do Dry January. Whatever your reason is, it’s good enough as long as it motivates you to want to stick with it when the urge to have ‘just one glass’ gets to you.
Stress is one of the main reasons we turn to alcohol. If this is true for you, what other ways can you find to ease your stress in those challenging moments?
Some things that help many people are
- Going for a walk – this is one of my go to stress busters!
- Take some slow deep breaths
- Talking to a friend
- Turn the music up and dance
- High intensity exercise
- Get creative
- See if you can eliminate or mitigate the causes of the stress
- Get an early night
These are just a few things that helped me and my clients. What could you add to the list that will work for you?
Becoming aware of your thoughts around drinking is going to greatly help you manage your Dry January. What are you telling yourself about this coming month of sobriety? Are you looking at it as a loss, or a chance to explore something new? Are you dreading it, and already looking forward to February 1, when you can have a drink again? Or are you looking forward to the chance to give your body and mind a rest, and a chance to find other ways to have fun?
A fun way to explore your true feelings about this it through this simple journaling activity.
Grab a notebook, or the notes app on your phone, and set a timer for 1 or 2 minutes. In that time, write as many sentences that begin with either “Sobriety is….. Or “Alcohol is…..
Try not to spend too long on each answer, aim to get at least 20 sentences written down for each. There’s no time to think, just write.
Spend some time reflecting on what your answers reveal. This awareness will help you work out what your Dry January strategy can be.
If alcohol is one of the oils that lubricates our social connections, then we need ways to connect without it.
If you usually spend Saturday night in the pub with your friends, can you suggest another way you can all enjoy one another’s company? A meal in a good restaurant? A night in one of the growing number of board games cafes that are popping up over the country? A live music event where you can just enjoy the music and the dancing?
Remember, it’s not the alcohol that makes your fun times fun, it’s the people you’re with and the things you do with them.
Be prepared for a few days when you feel less than your best. Especially if you’ve been living it up over the Christmas period. It might take a while for your body and mind to adjust to the lack of alcohol. That’s ok, it’s normal. Allow your body to rest. Give it plenty of water and good food, and remind yourself that you’re doing a good thing for yourself.
Once you get used to your alcohol free time, you might start to find things you enjoy doing sober that energise you more. This is the perfect time to experiment with new hobbies, exercise, and other ways you can spend your time.
You never know, you might get to the end of the month, and decide you want to carry on with your new alcohol free life!
If you would like some one to one support to build up your strategies for the month, you can book a Sober Strategy session here.