- Expert Tips on Staying Motivated During Dry January
- Know your why
- Challenge your friends to join you
- Check in with yourself
- Plan ahead and, when in doubt, choose alcohol-free venues as much as possible
- Create weekly meal plans and re-stock your fridge
- Make new habits
- No matter what: Be clear and confident about your decision
- Celebrate your success
- 4 Ways to Feel Your Best In Dry January
- 1. Savor your Ambition
- 2. Accept Ambiguity
- 3. Set Yourself Up to Succeed
- 4. Treat Yourself, Celebrate Yourself
- Dry January and Beyond – What to do when Dry January is over?
- Be Sober – Quit Drinking with Simon Chapple the Quit Alcohol Coach
Expert Tips on Staying Motivated During Dry January
Dry January, also known as the month of no alcohol, has become a popular way of kicking off the new year for many. For some, skipping alcohol for 31 days might be a good excuse to detox from holiday indulgences, for others it might be a good reason to question your relationship with drinking.
No matter what your reasons might be for abstaining from alcohol, there are multiple benefits for laying off the booze including better sleep, easier weight management, an increased immune system, decrease in anxiety, among others.
However, most New Year resolutions, staying motivated can be tricky despite the best of intentions. Here are some tips from experts on how to keep January as dry as possible.
Know your why
First, says sober coach, Ryn Gargulinski, it’s important to figure out why it’s important for you to give up alcohol for the month.
What’s the big reason you decided to go for it? Perhaps you want to be healthier physically or more energized mentally and spiritually. Or maybe you found yourself drinking too much over the holidays.
“Whatever the reason,” says Gargulinksi, “Write it down and refer to it often as you move through the month.”
Challenge your friends to join you
According to Dr. Irene Little, founder of Access Counseling and author of The Book of Addiction: A Parent’s Guide to Restoring Structure and Serenity to Your Home, a great way to hold yourself accountable is to challenge your friends to join you in your Dry January goal.
“You can use your social media friends and family by reporting daily how you feel, or post a pic of you with your drink and share what you chose to drink instead of alcohol,” she tells SheKnows. You might also want to create a group tracker in Google Docs and place check marks for each day you completed to track your progress.
“The key to accountability is to maintain awareness for yourself and with others,” says Little. “When others are aware of your goals, they step up to support you and encourage you.”
Check in with yourself
When you find yourself with the urge to drink, after a particularly stressful day at work, or find yourself in a situation where you would normally drink, a birthday party, Emily Lynn Paulson, author of Highlight Real: Finding Honesty And Recovery Beyond The Filtered Life, says it’s important to take a moment and check in with yourself. Get curious whether you’re using alcohol to self-medicate or habit.
“Ask yourself if there is anything else you can do to help the feelings that you’re experiencing,” she says. “If you are stressed after work and are missing your 5 pm cocktail to ‘take the edge off,’ try meditating or taking a yoga class instead.”
Plan ahead and, when in doubt, choose alcohol-free venues as much as possible
It’s girls’ night and you usually frequent your local wine bar.
Now what? If the temptation to drink and partake with others is too high, Celine Beitchman, Director of Nutrition at the Institute of Culinary Education, recommends doing some legwork before going out and taking initiative. “Instead of going with the crowd, pick the place,” she says.
“Search out all of the great new venues with non-alcoholic options in their beverage program — from shrubs and kombuchas to bitters and fresh juices.” There’s bound to be a location that will suit everyone’s needs.
However, in most social situations it could be a challenge to escape the presence of alcohol. While Little says each situation is an opportunity to be successful, you will not only need to plan ahead but also be open about your new commitment.
“If you are going to your favorite concert, share your plan to stay committed to Dry January and plan to be the designated driver,” she says.
“If you are planning a date during Dry January, let your date know you are committed to a healthier month and be confident in your decision.”
Create weekly meal plans and re-stock your fridge
Do you usually have a glass of red with dinner? Do you cater your meals around that new bottle of Pinot? If so, it’s a good idea to rethink your meal plans and restock your fridge. “Consider what you will drink in place of the alcoholic beverage you’re giving up,” says Beitchman. “Then stock that in your home and identify where you’ll get it when you’re out with friends.”
She also recommends making a meal plan for January “that includes what you’ll drink with meals and stick to a plan you can reference every day/week.”
Image: Shutterstock / VGstockstudio
Make new habits
Rather than simply trying to eliminate the habit of drinking, Gargulinksi suggests replacing it with a healthier habit. “If you drink to unwind every day after work, for example, fill that time with something healthier instead. Perhaps you can unwind with a walk through the park, a trip to the gym or a romp with your dog around the neighborhood.”
No matter what: Be clear and confident about your decision
While Paulson says it’s “nobody’s business whether you are drinking or not,” sharing or not sharing your plans for Dry January comes down to personal preference. When in doubt, stay firm with your new commitment.
“If you seem to be questioning your decision, this may inadvertently cause your friend to discourage your plan,” says Little.
“ I have learned that when people say ‘I can’t’ do something people will try to provide a solution on how they ‘can’.”
So, instead of saying “I can’t drink” because I committed to Dry January, Little says it’s better to tell your friends and family “I’m not drinking this month.”
“You will be much more successful and receive far more support,” she says.
Adds Paulson: “Taking a positive step for your health is something to be celebrated, so a simple, ‘no thank you,’ or “I’m not drinking tonight.” is perfectly fine. If the questions persist, feel free to return the, ‘why aren’t you drinking?’ inquiry with, ‘why are you drinking?’ It may start an interesting conversation!”
Celebrate your success
We tend to stick to things when we measure our success. Which is why Gargulinksi says it’s important to see that every day you stay sober throughout your challenge is a success. “Don’t forget to take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a little reward at the end of each week, and a bigger one at the end of the month.”
Although she’s quick to point out that no, the reward needn’t be a drink. “What about a fresh bouquet of flowers, or dinner at your favorite restaurant? Or maybe even a brand new dress as it’s not uncommon to lose a few pounds when you give up alcohol.”
One more tip? “If you’re loving the results, keep it up! You may find you’re much more energized, happier and optimistic without alcohol, and that this lifestyle suits you for the long haul. That one’s not uncommon, either! Good luck!”
Mia Shaley/Shutterstock. Ashley Britton/SheKnows.
4 Ways to Feel Your Best In Dry January
Ah, Dry January is finally upon us! It’s a month many of us sort of look forward to but also sort of dread: when we commit to staying off the booze for 31 days.
Dry January ends up on the ultimate high note (accomplishing it feels great mentally and physically!), but getting through it has its highs and lows, any lifestyle revamp does.
Here’s 4 ways to feel your best throughout the inevitable rollercoaster:
1. Savor your Ambition
It’s awesome that you’ve embarked on this undertaking! And you’ll be fully rewarded in February, if not sooner. It always pays off to get unhealthy ruts. Now is the time to seize your motivation and run with it.
What benefits are you looking forward to? Write a letter to your future self about it. Create a vision board of photo clippings and post-its about what inspires and motivates you most. Write your top 5 reasons for doing Dry January on your mirror so you see it every day.
Shout that inspiration loud and proud so it can sustain you for the next 31 days!
2. Accept Ambiguity
It’s one thing to have initial ambition, but then well, life sets in, and with it, ambiguity. Addictive behaviors drinking alcohol are called “addictive behaviors” for a reason: they tend to suck us back in unless we put in some sustained effort to kick them. Remember that your honeymoon period of gusto towards your goals might not last…totally normal.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your goals. Here’s where “urge surfing” becomes key. What’s that? Waiting out periods of not feeling sure or committed to staying sober, and knowing they will pass. It can help to remind yourself that this is only a month.
Take it one day or even one hour at a time if you have to; commit to sticking with it for the rest of that time period. Think of Dry January as a grand experiment. You want to know you can achieve what you set out to do.
And if you slip up? Go from “dry January” to “damp January”…meaning get back on the wagon and celebrate your rebound! The benefits of curbing alcohol, just the detriments of drinking, are cumulative not all or nothing. Better a damp January than a soaking wet one!
3. Set Yourself Up to Succeed
Make it easy on yourself. Plan your schedule accordingly to keep yourself on track. Socializing, for example, is one of the most common things people find challenging when cutting out a substance (along with sleep, discussed below).
Be your own best friend and coach this month and pull out all the stops to win! It’s just this month, not forever, so adjust your social life accordingly.
Consider postponing or rearranging social events as needed to avoid pressure or put yourself in a more comfortable environment for not drinking.If you decide you want to stick with dry January for longer, you can worry about long term strategies next month.
At the very least, prepare in advance to make sure things go smoothly (our surviving holiday parties sober guide has some great tips that can help you out 365 days a year!).
Sleep is another big issue that trips people up, because so often substances can become a part of our come-down/relaxation routines for the night.
Focus on getting rest and relaxation, and not stressing out if you fall asleep as usual or not.
Your body will adjust and get you back to sleeping a baby sans substances in a shorter time than you might expect, and you’ll get higher quality sleep too.
4. Treat Yourself, Celebrate Yourself
We’re all about treats and celebrations at Workit, and with good reason. Part of setting yourself up to succeed is making sure you put treats for yourself in place. There is a big juicy treasure box of pleasures for you out there to enjoy sober.
Some are simple, naps and Netflix and sunshine and music. Some are intellectual, reading a good book or visiting an art museum.
And some are social, finally being able to have a deep conversation with a partner and remembering it clearly the next day, or spending time with your kids without worrying about making a tipsy poor example yourself. Whatever find rewarding or pleasurable, now is the month to make time for it.
Same goes for celebrating yourself. ‘Tis the time to give some praise to numero uno. Try writing down 10 things you’re proud of doing in the last year, or 10 things you love about yourself. You’ve made a goal and are going for it. Bravo!
Dry January and Beyond – What to do when Dry January is over?
If you are one of the millions of people who have taken part in Dry January you may have been wondering what to do when the month comes to an end, this post is designed to help you.
For some people it has been a long wait to drink alcohol again and after four weeks of not drinking through sheer willpower the first thing they want to do is head to the pub or break open a bottle of wine at home.
However, for many people who take part in Dry January the experience is much different, they haven’t been using willpower alone and have approached the break from alcohol with a different mindset. Over the course of the month they encounter positive changes to their mind and body and start to understand the serious impact alcohol has been having on their lives.
Often they will feel happier in themselves, less stressed and anxious and will want to maintain that feeling after January has ended.
I often speak to people who take a one month break from alcohol as an experiment and by the end of the month they feel they don’t want to return to the old version of themselves. It is often the first step on the path to complete freedom from alcohol.
My advice for anyone who is coming to the end of Dry January and wants to continue their progress would be to consider extending the break from alcohol. Make a firm and true commitment, maybe for a further 30 days, or even make it 60 or 90, whatever feels right. Once you have made your commitment write it down and put it somewhere prominent to remind you, maybe on your fridge or your phone.
Below are more tips about what to do beyond Dry January:
Reflect on your progress
Hopefully you have been making notes and journaling about your Dry January experience. If so, as the month comes to an end take some time to reflect on your progress. Look at how far you have come and what has changed.
If you haven’t been writing down your experiences, now is a great time to start.
Revisit your beliefs about alcohol
I used to firmly believe that:
- I couldn’t have fun without drinking
- I couldn’t relax without alcohol
- Alcohol helped my anxiety
I now know that I was totally wrong and have worked on forming new beliefs that don’t hold me back. I want what I believe to allow me to be the best version of myself rather than limit me, I am sure you want the same.
Write down everything you believe about alcohol, including the reasons why you think you to drink and as you approach the end of Dry January look much closer at what you believe. I am confident you will find many of your beliefs about alcohol are limiting you and you will also discover many of them to be completely untrue.
You may also find some of your beliefs have changed after your Dry January experience.
I never tire of hearing someone tell me (in a state of shock) how they have just discovered that they actually can have fun at a party without drinking after dancing sober and laughing all night long without a drop of alcohol.
What’s your why?
Write down the reason why you decided to take part in Dry January. Maybe you were sick and tired of hangovers or you may have simply been wanting to prove that alcohol does not have control over you life by taking a break from it. There are no right or wrong answers, just write down whatever comes up for you.
Be sure to make daily entries in your journal and get really curious about what you are experiencing.
Treat it as an experiment
If you choose to take a further break from alcohol continue to approach it as an experiment. It is not a challenge, we can fail at a challenge but we can’t fail an experiment.
Take the time to notice everything that is going on while you are alcohol-free, there may be changes to your moods, sleep, skin and a whole lot more. Ensure you gather the data and keep an open mind about the changes.
Take a selfie
If you didn’t take a selfie at the start of Dry January take one now and compare it with some old photos of yourself. Can you see a difference? Maybe in the eye or the skin? Write down everything you notice.
If you did take a selfie at the start use a photo editing app to compare another one now, you can put them side by side to see the difference.
When you can see the visual changes in your face it can motivate you to continue your alcohol-free journey.
It is important to stay focused and I recommend getting your hands on a couple of decent sober books (my book The Sober Survival Guide is a good starting place). You can read a chapter or two each day during your extended break.
I would also recommend joining the Be Sober group where you can connect with other people who are working on changing their relationship with alcohol.
Podcasts and videos are also another great way to expand your knowledge about quitting drinking and keep you really focused as you go forward.
Check out the Be Sober channel for some inspiration and more tactics for quitting drinking and having fun while doing it.
Do something fun or productive with your time
I spent around 20-25 hours per week drinking before I finally kicked the booze. That is a LOT of hours that I could have been doing something far more productive and interesting with.
Rather than sitting around pining for my old friend Shiraz I made a list of all the things I wanted to do and achieve, I called it my sober bucket list (you can find my list here) and I have been getting out into the big wide world ticking things off the list ever since.
So make use of the time you were spending drinking and do something that excites you.
Find a new go-to drink
There are so many incredible zero-alcohol drinks available that it is hard to not to find a new drink that you don’t fall in love with.
I found the experience of sampling and experimenting with all these new and wonderful drinks so much fun. I soon forgot that I wasn’t drinking alcohol and quickly formed a new (healthy) habit with my zero-alcohol alternatives.
Take a trip to the alcohol-free section of your nearest large supermarket and explore all those new flavours that are waiting for you to discover them.
My current favourite is Atopia with a nice tonic and a slice of lime.
Learn from any setbacks
If you do have a drink during or after Dry January you are NOT A FAILURE – remember, this is an experiment, not a challenge, so you can’t fail.
Instead of beating yourself up and becoming emotional take the time to explore why you chose to have a drink and what you could do differently so it doesn’t happen next time.
Be a bit a detective at a crime scene, look at the evidence and learn from what you find.
What was it that triggered you? What could you change to prevent it happening again? What did you learn about yourself from the experience?
Write it all down in your journal and make yourself stronger as you go forward.
Try and plan ahead. If you have any boozy nights out planned after Dry January consider switching them for a trip to the cinema or the bowling alley instead. The last thing you want is to be around alcohol and people who might pressure you to drink until you feel strong enough to know that there is no way you will cave into temptation.
It may also make sense to remove alcohol from your house if you think you might be tempted to drink. When I quit drinking I put all the bottles of wine I had (and there were a lot) in a box outside the front of my house with a sign that said ‘free to a good home’ – they were gone within 15 minutes.
Dry January can be the stepping stone to a long lasting life-change, by making a further commitment to take an extended break from alcohol we can get to a place where it slowly starts to feel insignificant and we no longer have any desire to drink.
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