Alcohol is a big part of my life – it’s how I relax at the weekend, socialise and celebrate running marathons. As I’ve gotten older I’m no longer a big drinker (the hangovers wipe me out for days!). And, while I aim to drink in moderation and try to keep to the recommended weekly alcohol units, if I’ve had a stressful day, pouring a glass of wine is usually my go-to solution.
I wasn’t always so restrained with my drinking. In my late teens and early 20s, like many people, I probably drank and partied a bit too much. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve become a much more sensible drinker and will only tend to drink a little too much on rare celebratory occasions. I would say that my relationship with alcohol is generally healthy. I’m very mindful of the amount I drink, but it is also an important part of my social life. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I’ve not had a single drink for a month!
Why I decided to do Dry January
The simple reason why I decided to give Dry January a go was because I had gone off alcohol. I actually haven’t had a drop of alcohol since Boxing Day – yep, even New Years Eve was alcohol-free. I didn’t drink a lot on Christmas Day, so there was no pounding headache that made me never want to drink again. Even in the run up to Christmas, I was careful about the amount I drank. After not drinking on Boxing Day, then the day after and the day after that, I decided that I would start the new year, and new decade, focusing on my health and wellbeing by trying Dry January.
What is Dry January
Dry January is run by Alcohol Change UK. The simple rule is that you don’t drink during January. The idea behind the challenge that that by not drinking for a month it will encourage people to reassess their relationship with alcohol.
What Dry January has taught me
What surprised me the most about doing Dry January was that I didn’t miss drinking at all. I quickly found alcohol-free alternatives for the weekend. I also felt a lot calmer and in control of my emotions during the month, although I’d also set myself the challenge to meditate everyday in January, which likely also had an impact on my wellbeing.
I didn’t find I benefited from the common positives people get from going alcohol-free – I didn’t lose weight, I didn’t have lots more energy and I didn’t wake up feeling energised. Although, this could be because I didn’t drink excessively before.
But, although I didn’t get these benefits, doing Dry January has taught me I don’t need a glass of wine to relax and I can find alternatives to alcohol to cope with stress. It has also taught me that I can easily live without drinking alcohol.
How dry January has changed my attitude to drinking
While I didn’t miss drinking, I still enjoy a drink so although I successfully completely Dry January I’m not giving up alcohol for good. I know that drinking alcohol can have serious impact on health and wellbeing, but as someone who can drink sensibly, I feel that alcohol is still an important part of my social life. Saying this, after going alcohol-free for over a month, I now know that when I’m stressed or want to relax, alcohol shouldn’t be my first coping mechanism and instead healthier alternatives such as meditating and exercise work for me. In addition to this, I intend to be more mindful of my drinking now, keeping a much more watchful eye on how much alcohol I’m consuming.
Have you tried Dry January, if so how has it impacted your health and wellbeing?