Waking up on January 1st with a throbbing head and a sense of dread is how we usually feel, knowing that we’ve indulged in far too much excess over the festive season and need to change, yet we begin the day with that familiar feeling of unease about tackling the month without alcohol. We know we should be doing dry January, yet we’re not over the moon about the prospect. Even if you wake up determined that this time it will be different unfortunately even with the best of intentions, we can begin to feel miserable and waver after just a couple of weeks.
Saying “I’ve totally got this” is easy, but putting our intention into action over the long term is hard, but doable – for all of us. I’d like to give you some advice and help on how to do Dry January – take a break from alcohol and be happy about it. You never know it might just change your life.
take a break from alcohol and be happy about it. You never know it might just change your life.
I always say this and that’s because the mind is really powerful. If you focus on the fact that January is cold, dark, wet and miserable and without a drink to ease the dreariness you’ll be miserable too, then that’s what will happen. Personally I think January is a great time to leave the alcohol behind simply because it is cold, wet and dull. January really can be joyful without alcohol. It is the perfect time to indulge in some much needed self care after the excesses of Christmas, prolong the cosy feeling of nights in.
Everyone is skint in January anyway so use this excuse to stay in, avoid bars, play with the kids’ Christmas presents, read your Christmas books or enjoy the latest releases on Netflix. Get cosy with hot chocolate, posh coffee, cups of tea and see it as a welcome break from all the fizz and silliness of the festive season. Imagine you’re on a home based wellness retreat where early nights, pyjamas, long walks and recharging your batteries are the order of the day.
The best advice I can offer when it comes to how to do Dry January is to look within, for you do have the power within you, it’s just a case of tapping into it. Take some time to connect with yourself and work out why you’re doing this in the first place. Is it because your friends are doing it? Is it because you feel rotten and full of shame about your drinking behaviours? Is it because you want to feel better or save money? How we see ourselves and what we want to achieve as we go into the month will have a huge impact on how the month plays out.
I suggest that instead of asking yourself, “Why am I giving up alcohol for the month?” But instead, ask yourself, “Will my life be better after taking a break from alcohol this month?” The answer, I am sure, will be a resounding yes. Then work out how it will be better and use this powerful feeling to carry you through.
In my post about the benefits of taking a break from alcohol, I mentioned that just because you decide to quit drinking, you won’t wake up and be a new person. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, so take your time. Focus on the vision you have of your future without alcohol, whether that be 30 days, 100 days, a year, or longer and use that strong vision to create what you desire by taking it slowly, planning your days and visualizing what your life will look like when you have removed alcohol from it.
Have some fun with your planning. Create a future you board and put pictures and mantras on there with your dreams and desires. Put a picture of the holiday you’d like to take with the money saved, images of yourself happy and smiling with your family or your newly redecorated living room, new job or business idea. Whatever you hope to achieve with the newfound freedom, energy, motivation and extra cash put it on your board and leave it by your bed. Look at it before you go to sleep to give your subconscious and extra reminder when you’re sleeping.
Get a journal
Whenever I talk to my clients about how to do dry January, or any other alcohol free challenge for that matter I tell them to get a journal. In all of the programs I run, we use this tool as is it so powerful and effective. Journalling needn’t be scary or take up hours of your time but it is essential in checking in with yourself and charting your progress. Take some time each day and write out your intentions, write through cravings, plan your treats, record your feelings, make lists, scribble down your whys and what fors or just daydream. Let it all out on paper and look back from time to time to see how far you’ve come. Don’t worry about prose, grammar or any of that stuff just let your pen flow. The simple act of connecting to our inner self and putting it down on paper is hugely therapeutic in itself.
Change your routine
No matter what kind of drinker you are, a home drinker, a pub goer or a binge drinker it is important to break this routine, switch things up a bit and break the behaviour patterns. Try to do something different at the weekend or at wine o’clock. Try the cinema or ice skating if you want to go out.
Instead of meeting friends for lunch or dinner, meet them for coffee in the mornings or meet them for a walk. Concentrate on doing something that you can’t do while drinking, it might be knitting, weight lifting, running, swimming, reading or writing. If you usually reach for a drink after work, then try having a bath and putting on your PJ’s. Me time no longer has to involve a glass of wine but treat yourself to a hot chocolate or cake, a flip through a magazine or a bit of telly. Do whatever you need to but just don’t reach for the bottle!
Be aware of cravings
Whether it be a notion, a whisper from the wine witch, or a full blown craving be aware that you will get desires to drink, especially in the early days. When they happen, be aware of them, notice how they affect you and use all the tools you have available to you to overcome them. There are lots of techniques to help you overcome cravings. Watch my video on Youtube about one of the best ways to get through a craving and use this technique as often as you need to. Each time you beat this feeling, you will get stronger and they will get less, I promise.
Let me help you
Starting and sticking with something is the route to happiness. But, what if you can’t do it by yourself? Happily, you don’t need to, nor should you have to. In today’s alcohol soaked world where drinking is so normalized that if you want to stop it seems you’re the one with the problem, it can be hard to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help it is necessary and makes the whole business much easier. By help, I mean real, proper, one to one human support. The Sober Bliss program is different from other virtual courses in that I work personally with you to give you the blueprint to living your life without alcohol. We go beyond a month and you get a proper plan and all the tools on how to do Dry January and beyond.
It’s not a month of abstinence, it’s the jump start to joy
The problem I often find with having a month off the booze, is that come the end we let all hell break loose and undo all the good work we’ve done over the past 30 days. The key here is to think of the month as an investment in your future health and happiness. An article in The Sunday Times titled ‘A Short Ride on the Wagon Starts Long Journey of Joy’ sums it up nicely. Use the month to reset, to rethink your relationship with alcohol, to give your body a break and to take the lessons learned to carry your forward. If done properly taking a break from alcohol is very beneficial but in order to get out of the abstain/binge/repeat pattern which does you no good at all, use the month as a springboard to how you want your life to look like in the long term. What is your relationship with alcohol and how do you want that relationship to be?
If you’ve always wondered how to do Dry January and make it stick, then hopefully the above advice will help you. Always remember though that in order to make this positive change last in the long term you need to put in the work, you are growing and changing and that doesn’t happen by accident. Sometimes we have to push through the hard stuff to really appreciate the good stuff.
That doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Don’t force it, don’t beat yourself up if you’re finding it hard and above all if you are struggling, reach out, ask for help – that’s why I am here and why so many people come to me when things get tricky and come out the other side far happier. I promise that with the right attitude, a good dose of self care, some proper support, a doable plan and a a cupboard full of tea bags, you will get there and become the best, strongest, happiest and freest version of yourself.
Are you doing Dry January or have you done it before? Let me know in the comments what worked or what you struggled with.
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