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F**k Dry January, Here's Why I'm Doing 'Damp' January

28/12/2016 16:38 GMT | Updated 05/01/2017 09:33 GMT
Shutterstock / Mariyana Misaleva

I had every intention of doing dry January.

After boozing every day during a two-week holiday in November, I felt ready and willing to be sober for a month. And I truly believed that the wine-riddled gauntlet of December, with all of its festive parties and impromptu one-drink-leads-to-ten gatherings would leave me so raggedy, the thought of any more Prosecco would make this a doddle.

Under the banner of dry January I would start the year purified, a soul reborn, ready to enter into 31 days of sobriety with my head held high.

I would reclaim all the hours lost to bad alcohol-afflicted sleep, I'd finally trim off my back fat without those extra calories pouring in and no longer would I fall asleep with a half-cooked sausage sandwich on my face.

Except... now I'm getting cold feet. And these cold feet are saying: "We really don't want to, please don't make us."

I had several reasons for doing dry January. Like a lot of people the first was to regain some control around my drinking.

I'm not a dysfunctional drinker and I've long since left binge-drinking behind back in my 20s, but as most of us know, there's a certain insidious slip-and-slide when it comes to winter boozing.

Before you know it, you're having a glass of red wine on a Tuesday night just because 'it's freezing outside' (newsflash: it's called winter). And even if it's just one or two, here and there, it adds up.

The second was for vanity reasons. It doesn't matter if you go to the gym six days a week, if you're still drinking alcohol, there's a certain amount of definition and tone that will just elude you.

The third was just to simply feel clean again. Regular drinking even in small amounts impacts your sleep, which in turn impacts your concentration levels and your immune system. I was fed up of my insides feeling like a furred-up kettle.

But then I thought about January. It's my best mate's birthday, a dear friend's leaving do and meet-ups with friends I haven't seen in ages because they've been travelling. And I know it's a cop out but it's the coldest bloody month of the year, darker than Mordor. It's not that I can't get through these events without drinking, it's just that I don't want to.

The problem with dry January, for me anyway, is that there is no give. I know plenty of people who have done it, and who have loved it, and haven't given booze a second thought. It's helped kickstart healthier habits around drinking and given a much-needed break from alcohol.

But the point is: I don't want to fixate on alcohol, and going sober would make me do that.

I want it to be a natural progression, an absence of thought than some decree I've set for myself. Because the problem with discipline and decrees is like any other human, once I know I can't do it, I really, really want to do it. It's like a big, red button marked VINO.

So what I want to propose is damp January. A slight bit of precipitation, a mild sogginess to the month.

Where it's not all or nothing, where the rules are what you make them. Where you won't get accusing looks from your friends who 'swore you'd signed up to dry January and isn't you having a drink after you banged on about it like a vegetarian who eats McNuggets'.

Mine will be no drinking during weekdays (which is not license to go batshit on the weekends), keeping drinking to special occasions where possible (Hump Day doesn't count) and no more than two drinks when I do indulge. (After three, I fold instantly in the face of peer pressure).

The important thing, I feel, is to know your boundaries and think about what you want to achieve with reducing your alcohol intake. It simply cannot just boil down to a penance for everything you drank in December because that won't bring about any form of sustainable change.

Whatever your reasons, make sure they are the right ones.

In the meantime, I'm going to raise a glass to Damp January (non-alcoholic though, because I'm writing this on a Wednesday afternoon and I'm not an animal).