Tonight’s the night! For many doing Dry January our first Friday night will be the big test. I found it hard this time last year but I got through it and lasted the whole month. Dry January was so something I’d thought about doing for a long time but never stuck to it for more than a few days.
Although I returned to normal drinking for the rest of the year, I’m still feeling the benefits and am looking forward with confidence to repeating my month of alcohol abstention. Recalling what worked for me last year, here are my 10 top tips for getting through it and feeling good.
- Identify the moment – sometimes it’s just a few minutes – when you really do feel it’s time for a drink. For me, it’s the hour or so after work before Friday dinner particularly when I’m cooking. Once I’ve got over that and am eating a meal I’m really not that bothered what I drink. At that point do quench your thirst with a drink, just not an alcoholic one. Looking at this way, the challenge of Dry January is really just getting through a few hours not a whole month.
- Plan an alternative drink for the inevitable nights out. I actually like the taste of a lot of alcoholic drinks and dislike sweet or fizzy drinks so I tend to choose a slimline tonic which, to be honest tastes hardly any different with or without gin.
- Avoid the big social events where drinking is the central part of the activity. I’ll still be going to a family birthday meal, eating out with Mrs Jones, going to the theatre but there are certain nights out, friends you see, where drinking alcohol is what it’s all about.
- My fridge had two cold beers left over from Christmas. I’ve taken them out because I don’t want to be tempted by them every time I open the fridge. Similarly I finished off that half-bottle of wine before New Year.
- A stressful day encourages many of us to reach for the bottle. Use a bit of willpower to rise above the excuse you make to yourself that you deserve that gin & tonic, beer or glass of prosecco.
- January can be a miserable month what with the weather and tight finances so don’t to be a hermit, still do fun stuff just not alcohol fun stuff.
- Recognise it’s really not long a time period. After tonight you’ll already be 10% through it. It also feels easier the longer you do it.
- Feel the benefits, I was borderline diabetic and lost over a stone in weight last January which kick-started an improved diet and exercise programme which helped me lose another stone. I also noticed my blood pressure went down and running, something I’d struggled with for years, all of a sudden felt that bit easier.
- Enjoy proving others wrong and the feeling that you can make a change in your life which might give you confidence for any other changes you might want to make.
- Reward yourself and do have a drink on February 1st which pleasingly falls on a Saturday this year. You might find you don’t “need” a second one!
Buoyed by my success last year I’m feeling confident of getting through tonight and the rest of the month. Health is my key focus as I move into my sixth decade and my relationship with alcohol is central to it. For more tips and information visit: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january