Did you kickstart 2020 with a Dry January?
If so we hope you are enjoying the benefits and we’d love to hear how you got on.
Two members of our team signed up for the national month-long alcohol-free challenge and within a couple of weeks were already noticing the benefits.
Maryanne is a regular to the monthly alcohol reset button. Doing both Dry January and Sober October for several years now, she welcomes the time to focus on her overall well-being.
“For me, it’s about starting the new year healthy. That includes looking at my diet and thinking about what gives me the most energy over the winter months.
“Alcohol definitely takes up most of my energy — and I don’t consider myself a problematic drinker — but as I get older those couple of glasses of wine definitely make me feel sluggish.
“Having a busy social calendar I would have the opportunity to drink every week, so making a conscious decision not to do so during January, or October, helps remind me that it doesn’t have to be part of my social life.
“This can be a challenge for a lot of people, particularly if you grew up in the West of Scotland where alcohol is just seen as part of a night out. Thinking about it is probably more daunting than doing it though.
Feeling The Benefits
“Once I make the decision I don’t find it a challenge as I feel healthier, fitter, I have more energy, I’m out doing more walking and it doesn’t stop me from going out — I actually find myself enjoying that better as well.
“It’s probably easier for me as I’ve done it a few times now so there’s no pressure from my friends and I know I’m going to feel the benefit.”
While she isn’t being pressurised by friends or family to have a drink, Maryanne said the dry month does make her more aware of the subtle alcohol messaging that is all around her.
“I started noticing it in the run-up to Christmas when I was looking for wee gifts, and everything from coasters to cuddly toys to Christmas jumpers seemed to have alcohol promotion messages on them.
“It wasn’t advertising a specific brand but just drinking in general — the ‘wine o’clock’ and ‘time for a gin’ type slogans. They seemed to be everywhere.
“It normalises the idea of drinking and for a lot of people in the West of Scotland it is normal.
“I don’t think it is the advertising that persuades me to have a drink, I think it is a series of habits that I’ve built up over a lifetime from having a glass of wine or two with a meal or enjoying a drink with my friends when we’re on holiday.
“Doing Dry January makes me think about these habits and recognise that a lot of it is in my mind.”
Maryanne found her month without alcohol left her with more time and energy to do the things she might put off after a glass of wine. It also gave her time to do more walking and the things she enjoys.
Give It A Go
She added: “I think everyone should try it — no matter how much you drink or how long you stop for. There’s no need to wait for one of the official ‘dry’ months — why not set yourself a challenge, start with two or three weeks and see how you feel.
“At the start of the year when the weather is miserable and everyone seems to be battling the winter blues, it’s a good time to take some time off alcohol — you’ll be surprised at how much more energy you have.”
Dry January First-Timer
As a complementary therapist Anne is well versed in activities that improve health and wellness, but as a newbie to the Dry January challenge she was quite daunted at the prospect of not drinking for a month.
“I thought it would be difficult going out for something to eat or going to the pub without having a drink, but it’s been a lot easier than I expected.
“I also enjoy watching a film and having a few beers or wine in the house to relax at the weekend and I was dreading that, but instead I’ve had friends up and I’ve bought in alcohol-free beer for myself and I’ve not missed it.
“I didn’t have any cravings for alcohol, which I was really surprised about as I’ve never been without alcohol, apart from when I was pregnant.
“It’s always been part of the weekend whether socialising with friends or having a few drinks with my partner.”
Anne found a book by Cosmopolitan writer Catherine Gray — ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’ — a real help throughout the month and, like the author, Anne is now contemplating pushing herself to a three month target.
Holding herself to account by keeping a daily journal which focuses her mind on her goal has also helped Anne.
“It helps you reset your habits which was a big factor in my drinking, and re-programme your brain so you don’t feel you need to drink in a specific place or time.
“I am really noticing the difference. I used to do a lot of running and that’s a good reason for me to keep off the alcohol as it means I can train harder.
“I did a race last week and was pleasantly surprised at my time. I’m also noticing I have lost a lot of bloating around my stomach — I weighed myself at the start of the month so I’m looking forward to seeing what the difference is at the end.
“I’ve also changed what I’m doing so when I’m socialising with friends we’re going to a tribute night rather than just meeting in the pub and if we go out for something to eat I’ll drive so we’re saving on taxis.
“It’s amazing how alcohol is part of every day life without you realising it. All in it’s been a good learning curve and I have really enjoyed it.”
If you fancy trying your own dry spell and want some help or advice contact DACA on 01389 731456 or 0141 9520881.