Tips to help you through dry January. As I write we are almost half way through the first month of a brand new year. How are you feeling? How are your resolutions coming along if you’ve made them? If you are taking part in Dry January, how is that going for you?
Depending on where you live, January is generally thought of as a depressing, cold and miserable month and it is with this feeling of negativity, deprivation and often sadness that all the fun of the past month has gone that we often start our alcohol free month.
Living with this feeling of bleakness, it’s no wonder that many people give up on their resolution to quit drinking around this time. The hangover is long forgotten and the next two, cold weeks are stretched out in front of you.
But, sticking to the promise you made yourself brings the most wonderful benefits and an enormous sense of achievement. Plus, if you can use this month as a powerful springboard and carry on with your alcohol free journey, the awesomeness of an alcohol free life is yours for the taking.
I really want you to experience for yourself just how liberating it is to live without alcohol and I really don’t want you to give up before you reach the best bits so here are my ten tips to help you through Dry January and beyond.
Mindset is everything and instead of feeling like a victim and using words like, ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not allowed’ you must change your language and change your thinking – right now!
Start to feel like a warrior, strong and proud. You have made this fantastic choice and you have the power to see it through. You have chosen freedom, you have chosen health, happiness and even extra wealth and time. Use the power of your mind to help you through.
Repeat strong, uplifting affirming mantras, listen to music that makes you feel good and harness those feelings of joy and lightness whenever you feel low. Sobriety is so hip and cool at the moment and although that is not a reason for doing this, who wouldn’t want to have something in common with the likes of Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Will Smith, Eminem and Bruce Willis?
Willingness to try
A willingness to try new things and keep an open mind is an important part of the journey. As Einstein said, it’s pretty crazy to do the same things again and again yet expect different results. If you want things to change then you must have a willingness to make changes. If you have always scoffed at the idea of meditation or if there is no way you would meet friends for coffee instead of drinks, then now is the time to put that aside and make an effort to try.
It is only by experimenting and trying new techniques like deep breathing and yoga to manage stress or visiting sober bars instead of your usual haunts that you will begin to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Make a list of all the things that you might like to try this month and give them a go with an open heart and an open mind. If you don’t like it, then fine, try something else.
This might sound like a boring piece of advice but if you’ve ever tried to whiteknuckle through a craving while sitting on the sofa then you will know that distraction and occupying your mind are some of the best tools on this journey, especially in the beginning. Do not sit and stew, get up and busy yourself with something, anything!
Make a cake, clean your cupboards, organise your wardrobe, do some gardening, get crafty with your kids, make a meal plan and shopping list, hoover out the car or clear the clutter in your bathroom. It doesn’t really matter as long as you can get through the tricky moment and start to break the connection, the association with drinking at certain times of the day.
Look after yourself
Again, perhaps an obvious and boring piece of advice, but so utterly important. Yet, whenever I talk to people about how they are getting on, the lack of prioritizing our own needs is the one thing that can lead to a downfall or giving in to a craving.
If you feel good about yourself, then it is far easier to tackle challenges and overcome hurdles. If you are happy and feeling strong and healthy then you are far less likely to hear the wine witch or negative self talk.
Be aware of how you are feeling and take regular moments throughout the day to check in with yourself. Eat lovely nourishing, healthy foods, drink plenty of water, sit down for ten minutes and if you can, get away from everybody and take some time to be by yourself.
Make sure you look after your sleep, get some fresh air and above all do something that makes you smile every single day.
If your friends and family know what you are doing and why you are doing it, they will be more likely to support you. You don’t need to go into all the whys and whathaveyous, just say you are doing Dry January along with the millions of other people and need some support. Ask them not to offer to buy you drinks, or bring round leftover bottles from New Year. Ask them to respect your decision and above all not to force you, make you feel bad or push alcohol on you.
Usually our friends and family will only be too happy to help and support us but if you have friends, colleagues or acquaintances who won’t play ball, then it is probably best to stay away. If your friends and family are not joining you in this journey, then this post is full of lots of advice for you.
This is always on my list of things to help and with good reason. Being in nature has the most wonderful restorative properties on our general physical and mental wellbeing. Even after just 20 minutes of being outside watching the clouds, listening to the birds, looking at the trees, mountains, rivers or sea you will start to feel much better. This article by my friend Suzannah over at Calmpreneur explains why walking in nature makes you happier. So, if there’s one thing you do over the next two weeks make walking in nature a priority.
Proper support is vital, especially if you find yourself struggling or want to carry this over to February and beyond. The brilliant thing is that there is so much support out there these days for us sober folk, so take advantage of it. Sometimes our friends and family, don’t really get it which is why it is important to have the support from other people who are going through the same things as you or who have been where you are and can offer advice and help.
Visualization is a powerful tool and if you’ve always scoffed at it before, then like I said earlier on, keep an open mind and have a willingness to try. After all, something which can help you can only be a good thing, right? Use visualization to prepare you for an event which you find challenging or are nervous about. You can visualize yourself enjoying your weekends, happy and alcohol free or even visualize the bigger picture. Where do you want to be in 2,3, 6 or 12 months from now? Take a moment to see yourself doing what you want to do and really connect with the emotions, it really is a powerful thing to do.
Keep a Journal
I am big fan of journaling and we have daily journal exercises every day in the Sober Bliss Program because it is such a powerful tool, I even encourage my youngest son to write things down in a notebook! Getting your thoughts and feelings onto paper and out of your head is a great way to relieve all the stress and built up tension and emotion. Out really is better than in! Use your journal to write through cravings, to dream, to write down your desires and to keep an account of how you are doing day to day.
Looking back and seeing how far you’ve come is such a wonderful motivator and goes a long way to lift you up if you are struggling. Also, going back to your notes on what works for you at different times is so helpful when tricky situations crop up.
Appreciate the small things
It is so easy to focus on the negative and complain that you are missing out or can’t have any fun and indeed blame the fact that you are not drinking when things go wrong. However, this negative mindset will only bring more negativity to your life. Instead, I want you to think about all the things you are grateful for which will bring more gratitude and happiness into your every day.
Since quitting I realized that there is so much to be thankful for and indeed, it’s the small things that bring the most joy. 10 minutes of peace in the morning with a cup of tea, spending some alone time with a book, hanging out with the kids or just the fact that I can go out for a walk whenever I want. Being thankful for what you already have instead of wishing for more all the time helps to ground and calm you and will make your days a lot brighter.
I hope that this post helps you to stick with your decision and carry on all the way to the end of January and beyond! If you need further help or extra support then please do send me an email so I can help you.
How are you getting on with Dry January, let me know in the comments below.