This year, for the first time, I did dry January. I wasn’t sure how I’d do because most of my January ‘new starts’ have failed.
I also wasn’t sure of the dry month’s success because I viewed it as having to give something up. After a month of not drinking, I don’t consider what I did as giving something up anymore. But more on that later.
My attitude towards the yoga challenge I also did in January was completely different. I was positive I would succeed. There were two reasons for that. First, I already had a yoga background, although sporadic. Second, cultivating a daily yoga practice wasn’t about giving something up, but adding something new and enjoyable into my life.
Clearly, I didn’t think giving up (I really need to think of an alternative phrase than giving up) alcohol for a month was going to be enjoyable. I expected it to be tough.
Why Did I Do Dry January?
Simply because following the lockdowns, Christmas and New Year I had got into a habit, with Justin, of drinking alcohol every day.
I can feel some people raising eyebrows, asking ‘what’s so bad about a glass of wine or a can of beer every day?’
Because most days it wouldn’t be just a glass of wine or a can of beer. When there was nothing to do yesterday, today or tomorrow, it was way too easy for a glass to turn into a bottle or a can into half a dozen cans.
And suddenly we both just felt fed up with it. We needed to take a break. And what followed was dry January.
First Couple of Days
… Were weird. I was so used to having a drink that I drank gallons of tea instead and spent the nights having to get up and go to the toilet several times.
Justin told me afterwards that he had felt cranky the first couple of days, but then it passed.
For me, it was just weird, and I missed the taste. Or maybe I missed the idea of having an alcoholic beverage to ‘switch off and relax’? Turns out that I don’t need alcohol to relax.
One Week Into Project Dry January
… And I’m feeling better.
I feel more alert and happier. I no longer automatically think of having some wine or beer when I get home from work.
I’m sleeping better. The sleep is deeper, and I wake up less in the night. I also feel readier to get up in the mornings.
I’ve also lost some weight. About a kilogram (that’s roughly two pounds). It’s not a lot yet, but a start. My beer belly is shrinking, though there’s still more to lose on the waistline.
I’ve also noticed that my skin is looking clearer and I think my features are looking sharper.
My thinking has also shifted. When we embarked on dry January, I was thinking how I was already looking forward to a beer when the month is over. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m not saying that I’ll never drink again, but right now, I have no rush to have that drink when January is over. Justin agrees.
Maybe we’ll wait until the pubs reopen. Although that could stretch it a bit far since they might not open until May. And talking of pubs, I really miss them more than having a drink. I miss being able to go to places where there are other people.
Anyone else feeling that this lockdown has been the worst?
Day 15 – Halfway Through The Month
High-fiving myself today: I have made it halfway! When I started the dry January, I thought it might be tough because I was so used to having a drink after work and during weekends.
But it hasn’t been tough at all. It goes to show that it is all about the mindset.
And that brings me to my earlier point of how I viewed giving alcohol up for a month as a negative thing when it really isn’t so. By giving up the drink, I have gained a lot.
We are halfway through and not only are we sleeping better; we have a more regular bedtime. When drinking, it was easy to stay up later, because we needed to finish our drinks. Often, especially on work mornings, I’d wake up groggy having gone to bed too late.
Not drinking has also been great for my creativity. I’m writing so much more. Just in the last two weeks I have gone back to writing book number two, which has been on a bit of hiatus for a while, and I have written three new short stories. I can’t wait to see how much I have written by the end of the month.
I’m also saving money.
According to Priory, the average person will have saved £44.88 on wine and £36 on lager in two weeks.
That’s the average person during normal times. Throw in several lockdowns and those figures will be a lot higher. So abstaining from alcohol is like putting money in the bank.
So bring on the rest of the month! And possibly beyond.
We Made It
I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, but after a weird start, it got easier.
About three weeks into dry January, a friend asked If I was looking forward to having a drink when the dry season is over.
When I first started, I thought I’d be pouring myself a beautiful pint of beer as soon as we get to February. But I didn’t do that. I had my first drink on the 5th of February and even then it was only a couple of small cans of beer.
Having a month without booze has changed my relationship to alcohol.
I used to see it as a way to switch off. During the month of abstinence, I realised it is just as easy to relax without a drink. I don’t miss having a beer to help me relax.
Neither do I miss the fuzzy head or hazy memories. I still enjoy a drink (a couple of Hazy Janes last night were a treat), but I don’t want to drink to the extent where I can’t remember everything that happened the next day. Or when I woke up hangover and waste a whole day.
Would I do dry month again?
Definitely. And I might not wait a whole year until the next one. Or even sober October. I’m thinking about June.
Would I recommend it to people? Absolutely. If you have ever considered going dry for a month, do it. Or if month seems too much, try a dry week. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.
Until next time!
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