5 Tips For A Successful Dry January

Start off 2018 by taking a good look at your drinking habits
Start off 2018 by taking a good look at your drinking habits

For most people, the holiday season is full of indulgences, and that includes partaking in alcoholic drinks more than they would normally. After all, you have to try the bottle of red your in-laws opened especially for Christmas dinner, it would be rude not to taste the craft beer your cousin got you from the new brewery in their home town, and New Year’s Eve isn’t the same without a little Champagne. When January finally rolls around, you’re probably ready to take a break from drinking so why not make it official and challenge yourself to Dry January?

Dry January is a public health campaign launched by the charity Alcohol Concern in England in 2014. Studies have shown that quitting alcohol for a short period of time can lead to better sleep patterns, lower cholesterol levels and weight loss. Whether you just want to cut back for the month or use Dry January as a stepping stone to cutting alcohol out altogether, here are a few tips to get you through to February first with your sobriety—and sanity—in tact.

Plan ahead
Even though the holidays are officially over, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to have a drink here and there. Going out for dinner to catch up with an old friend could turn into two or three pints, going on a date could mean splitting a bottle of wine, a rough work week could call for a taste of the Scottish whisky your brother recommended. If you know there are certain events in January that would normally involve drinking, go into them with a game plan. Order ginger ale or water instead and if anyone gives you a hard time about it, that’s their problem, not yours.

Be honest
You don’t have to go so far as to announce your sober plans on social media if that isn’t your thing, but letting your close family and friends know what you’re doing can help a lot. That way your mom might think twice before offering you a glass of wine at Sunday dinner and your buddy won’t bug you to come out for happy hour—or at the very least, he’ll know why you aren’t partaking in the half price draught deal. You don’t have to have a problem with alcohol to want to experiment with going without it for awhile, so anyone who knows you should be supportive of your choice—they might even want to do it with you.

Make it a virgin
If cocktails are your thing, it’s still possible to enjoy the process of making and drinking a good Dark and Stormy or a refreshing mojito sans the liquor. Sure, it’s not really the same, but a virgin cocktail is a more exciting replacement than plain old water would be, right? The point is to replace your usual alcoholic beverage habit with something that is satisfying too. That way you aren’t sitting through dinner wishing there was a splash of tequila in your margarita—you’re just enjoying the choice you made without feeling like it was a huge sacrifice.

Keep busy
January is a great time to get started on a lot of other resolutions you have for the year, so instead of heading out for drinks every Friday night, use that time to hammer out a budget, hit the gym, or meal plan for the next week. Pick up a new hobby you’ve been wanting to try, take a class, go to all the new brunch spots you’ve been meaning to check out, go to more movies and art exhibits—whatever you’re interested in, devote more time to that instead of picking out a new bottle of wine every weekend and nursing a hangover the next day. You’ll be surprised how much more energy you have when you aren’t wasting it on drinking.

Buddy up
A friend, family member, significant other or even a colleague could all make excellent Dry January allies to make sure you’re keeping each other on track. You can order water together at dinner, text each other for a distraction when you really feel like a beer while you catch up on the latest season of Game of Thrones, and go for early morning Sunday brunch when everyone else you know is sleeping off the previous night’s festivities. Laying off alcohol for one month might seem like no big deal at first, but it can never hurt to have someone who understands the struggle. If no one you know is on board, go online for support. There are people all over the world staying sober for January and they’re always up for a chat.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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