Dry January isn’t the easiest. When our social lives often revolve around alcohol, and we’ve become accustomed to a cheeky glass of wine (or two) with dinner, it can be difficult to quit old habits.
But, after a gluttonous festive period, it might be the ideal time to give abstinence a go. And who knows, it might shift your relationship with booze for the entire year.
To help with your endeavour, we’ve asked some pros at Dry January how they got through the month and what they preferred to do instead of chugging it down.
Break your habits
Photographer Paul David Smith, a 38-year-old from Cornwall who has been sober for seven years, says: “Break your usual habits and routines. If you normally enjoy a beer in the evening after work, go for a walk or cycle ride instead. If you normally enjoy a glass of wine when going out for a meal at the weekend, go to the cinema or choose a different activity to do instead.
“It doesn’t matter how you break your routines, you are just most likely to have a drink when you find yourself in a situation where you’d normally have drank. Breaking those habits and changing your routine will make you think about other things than drinking.”
Keep busy and plan properly
Emma Hull, a 26-year-old PR specialist at Foundation Agency, says: “Keep busy – it’s so easy to pick up a glass of wine in the evenings after work, or when you’re watching a film on a Saturday, so one of the main things that I can recommend doing is to stay busy on the days that you think you’re tempted to pick up a glass. It doesn’t have to be anything exciting – a food shop, the cinema, go for a walk.
“And be mindful of shopping lists – when you do the food shop for the day/week, take a shopping list with you every time. This way, you know where the things you need are and you can avoid the aisles that have any alcohol in them. It also helps save money too as you’re not going to steer away from this list!”
Remember the alternatives
Content creator Faye Dickinson, 29, from London, says there are plenty of ways she forgoes alcohol during Dry Jan.
“Eliminating temptation within my home is mission-critical,” she says. “Mocktails help to quench thirst. Replacing my version of happy hour with another mood-boosting activity can kill cravings too, and journaling through January to stay motivated. But you shouldn’t give up if you slip up.”
Equally, London-based writer Rhys Thomas, 25, says there are other options available. “I took Dry January as a chance to try out things like fancy cordials, as I generally enjoy drinking as part of a foodie experience. And this brand, Wise Bartender UK, has an amazing range of drinks. If someone is looking for either fancy soft drinks or low alcohol alternatives, I wholly recommend.”
Don’t glorify alcohol
Katrina Cliffe, a 38-year-old mum and founder of a content agency, from Huddersfield, says to remember that alcohol might not be the treat it feels like at the time.
“I’ve just done 12 months alcohol-free,” she tells HuffPost UK. “My tips would be to remind yourself why alcohol doesn’t make you feel good, and the things you can do on a clear mind/no hangover. And choose to reward yourself with something other than alcohol on completion.”