It’s that time of year again… When, following the excesses of the festive period, we atone for our sins by quitting alcohol and committing to Dry January.
Maybe you’re doing it because you want to give your liver a rest. Maybe you’re on a New Year health kick or trying to lose weight, or you’re attempting to save money during what feels like the longest month in the history of mankind.
Whatever the reason, 31 days without booze can have a whole host of benefits – as I discovered when I went temporarily teetotal a couple of years ago.
But there are a few things I wish I’d known before I gave up drinking. Here are my insider tips for surviving Dry January…
1. Tell your friends
Experts are always banging on about ‘accountability’ and positive reinforcement when it comes to making new habits stick – and the truth is, they’re right.
Tell your friends and family that you’re doing Dry January, and the reasons why, so they can support you.
If you can rope someone in to join you on your quest, even better. And if there are certain pesky people who you know will try and lure you away from the path of sobriety? Tell them you’ll catch up with them in February.
2. Plan fun sober social activities
Sitting around in bars all month watching everyone else getting drunk is not going to be a recipe for success.
Instead, plan things like cinema trips, fun gym classes, coffee catch-ups at home or country walks (that don’t end in country pubs), so you can spend time with your mates and not feel like you should have a wine glass/beer bottle in your hand.
3. Stock up on non-alcoholic drinks
I found that I got sick of drinking lime and soda very quickly. These days there are so many alcohol-free drinks options – including spirit alternatives, so you can mix up mocktails that taste like the real thing – available in both pubs and supermarkets. Try a few different options to prevent the onset of beverage boredom.
4. Prepare for your sleep patterns to change
I slept a lot better when I wasn’t drinking and had more energy on weekend mornings – a month without hangovers felt amazing.
You might want to think about how you want to spend the time you would usually be slumped in front of the telly with a banging headache.
5. Don’t worry if you fall off the wagon
Full disclosure: I slipped up on day 23 when I quaffed a few glasses of bubbly at a work event. But did I beat myself up about it? No, and neither should you.
Nor should you throw in the towel. Whether it’s in week one or near the end of Dry January, just get back on the proverbial wagon and keep going until the end of the month.
6. Don’t stress about sober dating
I have friends who refuse go on dates while they’re doing Dry January, and while of course it’s up to you if you prefer to have a bit of Dutch Courage for first dates, I say don’t worry about it.
I went on sober dates and discovered that you don’t need to have wine flowing to keep the conversation flowing, and I never made the mistake of thinking I’d had an amazing time with someone simply because we’d got tipsy.
7. Go easy when you start drinking again
Following Dry Jan, you might be tempted to celebrate with one very wet night out, but you may find your alcohol tolerance has plummeted, so take it easy.
If you hit the sauce too hard right away, you could end up with a turbo hangover that lasts the whole of February.