In Defence Of Dry January

23/01/2017 13:31 GMT | Updated 24/01/2018 10:12 GMT

"F**k Dry January", read the subject title of an email I got this week from a London studio. And I was met with quizzical looks from colleagues when I mentioned some people enjoy the challenge of not drinking for the month - "just exercise some self control?" one of them 'helpfully' advised.

Today, walking to the pub for a Sunday roast, one of my friends observed we were engaging in what she called 'Jan chat' i.e. the art of chatting about all things depressing (Brexit, Trump, not drinking, death etc.) during January, which I guess summed the month up for her. It seems most people find it a pretty miserable month.

I'm going to put this out there - I'm not finding the start of 2017 at all depressing, and I'm also doing Dry January (the caveat being I was on holiday at the beginning of the year, and not wanting to miss out on a cocktail on the beach, I started on 7th and I'm going to finish on 5th February). I'm actually not a massive booze hound day to day, but I'm a classic binge drinker. Monday - Thursday I will happily not pick up a drink, but come Friday night, I get carried away and will drink thoughtlessly without consideration for any plans I have the next day.

Don't get my wrong, it's not like I'm getting drunk and embarrassing myself or falling over when I've had a few drinks. Unfortunately, I suffer with migraines that are almost certainly triggered by (among other things) alcohol, and especially wine. Having therefore not touched a glass of red or white (although perversely I can do most bubbles except cava) for years (let me tell you, not drinking wine at weddings comes across incredibly anti-social), my hangovers and migraines have become considerably better, but they still remain. I'm also such a busy person that the levels of guilt I experience having to spend a Saturday or Sunday on the sofa in a self-inflicted state of house arrest after a night out are hardly worth the night itself.

And so, I decided to do Dry January. For some people, Dry Jan is all about the challenge of seeing if they can go a whole month without a drink. For me, it's a simpler exercise: after a heavy and tiring December and holiday with friends over New Year, I just really wanted to give my body and mind some time to recover. The timing has been right for me because I set myself lots of goals for 2017, such as training for various sporting events which has kicked off.

Halfway through, I'm really relishing the mental clarity. Having an intensive job, whilst training five to six times per week and blogging, I tend to be running around a lot. Yes I love letting loose occasionally but at the moment it's great to not feel a bit crap at work from two ciders the night before (yep, that's all it takes for a migraine to kick in for me...). I've also been getting up early at the weekends to get my running in before the rest of my plans, and even managed my first Parkrun (which I wrote about last week here) which I've never got to before because of the early start.

Here's some Dry Jan facts if you are thinking about giving your body a break from the booze:

  • Lost productivity and absenteeism due to alcohol costs the economy 17 million working days and £7bn a year*.
  • 85% of participants felt a great sense of achievement after taking part in Dry January*.
  • New Scientist participants reported they found it easier to decline alcohol after the study had ended, or to start an evening off with low-alcohol drinks.

*Source, Alcohol Concern.

That's my story in any case. Of course, your life is only yours and whether or not you decide to do a dryathalon, it's your choice and I would urge anyone not participating to not judge those who are. Why begrudge someone trying something new for a few weeks?

Are you doing a dryathalon? Have you done one before?

Find Alana at The Larns and on Instagram.