It’s the beginning of a new year and we’ve finally recovered from overeating and the alcohol consumption that comes with the Christmas season. You’re refreshed and ready to achieve your #goals just like most people at this time of year.
January is the perfect month to embark on a detox now that our bodies have recharged and we get back into the routine of work and play. For some, part of that detox includes participating in Dry January – an annual movement where millions of people in the UK ditch the hangover and abstain from drinking alcohol for a month.
While many decide to fly solo and participate mainly for the health benefits, it’s also a great way to raise money for a charity while understanding the addictive relationship we have with alcohol and the harm it causes to our bodies.
For whatever reason you decide to stay alcohol-free this January, here are a few simple steps you can take to get you through the month and still retain your sanity.
Create a support network
Whether it’s your first attempt at Dry January or your tenth, let the people in your social network know what you’re up to. And I don’t just mean a post to your hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook.
Speak to close friends you see regularly, flatmates and even work colleagues, and let them know you’ll be alcohol-free for the rest of the month. After all, these are the people you’re most likely going to be hanging out with this month.
Once people know your plans, try and find people you know who are going to be doing the same thing. If they’re a close friend or flatmate, make sure that you regularly encourage each other.
This can prove quite helpful if you get to the mid-month slump or if the January blues kick in. Even setting up a group WhatsApp with work colleagues or friends can be an entertaining way to get through the month without feeling like you’re doing it all alone.
But if you are flying solo, download the free Dry January & Beyond app to keep you pepped up and engaged throughout the month with regular supportive messages. You’ll also be able to track your progress as well as the money and calories you’ve saved as the weeks go by.
Employ the right affirmations
It goes without saying that a positive mental attitude is pretty essential when performing any sort of challenging task, especially when it comes to giving up a glass of your favourite Pinot Noir with your evening meal – a personal favourite of mine.
This may seem over the top for some people, but I’ve always found that adopting daily affirmations and actually speaking on them every morning not only brightens up my mood but positively aligns my mind so I’m in the right headspace by the time I leave the house to go to work.
“I can and I will”
“I press on because I believe in my path”
“I am becoming a strong individual with healthy habits”
These daily affirmations are a godsend in the winter months when it’s dark in the morning on your way to work and when you leave the office at the end of the day. You’ll thank me later.
Dry January is the perfect opportunity to bag a cheap gym membership (or dare I say it, use the membership you already have) and get to a yoga, spin or personal training class a couple of times a week.
This may be a push for some – especially if you’ve only just recovered from New Years Eve celebrations – but when you consider that most people who quit drinking end up sleeping better, waking up a little earlier to get to a gym class before work should become a lot easier.
It only takes a couple of weeks to get into a healthy active routine. Coupled with the fact you won’t be drinking, Dry January is the perfect time of the year to focus on your overall health and double down on losing the extra pounds most of us add on over the Christmas period.
Don’t become a hermit
Unless staying inside all evening and ploughing through your saved list on Netflix is your natural state (it is for me sometimes), don’t be afraid to be a social butterfly. Invite friends over for dinner, make alcohol-free cocktails or simply enjoy the novelty of not drinking – enjoy each other’s company knowing you can have fun without alcohol.
If you’re going to a pub where most people will be drinking, avoid buying rounds.
It clearly doesn’t make financial sense to get in on a boozy round when you’re alcohol-free. Encourage someone who’s also participating in Dry January to hang out with you in your usual haunts around town for extra support.
Alternately, if you’re out with friends who are drinking, be confident and just head straight to the bar to buy yourself that soft drink to ensure your friends are aware of your determination to remain sober.
Remember, no one’s perfect
Research shows that two out of three people make it through Dry January. Furthermore, an impressive 49% of people lose weight, 62% sleep better and a massive 79% save money according to Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Concern. But what if you’re the person that only made it halfway?
To be honest, you really shouldn’t beat yourself up about that fact you failed. In fact, it’s not a failure whatsoever.
In today’s Western society, going cold turkey on Alcohol, cigarettes and even social media for two weeks is quite an achievement and should be celebrated.
But this doesn’t mean that you should only aim to participate in Dry January for two weeks. Use that two-week milestone as a way to look at the bigger picture – if you took a week off drinking every month in a year, that would total to 84 guaranteed alcohol-free days as opposed to 31 for the whole of January.
If you didn’t make through Dry January this year, why not make that small commitment once a month for the rest of the year. Your liver will definitely thank you for it if no one else will.
Will you be making a commitment to be alcohol-free this January? Download the Dry January & Beyond app for Apple iOS or Android. Alternatively, visit the Alcohol Concern Dry January website for more information.