Christmas is over. December has been filled with mulled wine and mince pies and more Christmas parties than you care to remember. New Year's champagne beckons and then we're into January. In between the leftover turkey, awkward family get togethers and Harry Potter reruns, the period between Christmas and New Year can be a time for reflection and resolutions.
The excess of the festive season leads many of us to resolve to 'get healthy' in the forthcoming year, among the changes we look to make drinking less often tops the list. Challenges like Dry January have risen in popularity over the last few years, with 16% of UK adults taking part in 2016.
2017 has been hailed the year that the sobriety movement will hit the mainstream, the prejudice towards not drinking is slowly fading, with more and more people choosing to drink mindfully and one in five UK adults (including myself) taking Dry January a step further and choosing to be teetotal all year round.
If Dry January is on your to do list for 2017, these four tips will help get you through the month whilst enjoying it.
1. Understand what makes you want to drink
Our relationship with alcohol can be emotional. Awareness is key. We drink alcohol when we're celebrating or commiserating, to relax and when we want to get the party started; so it's natural to feel deprived when you first remove it from your life (even when it's for a short period of time).
To enjoy your Dry January experience, and to stick to it, start to notice when it is you feel like you're really missing out. Is it when you're stressed out at work and want to relax? Or when you want to celebrate your new job? Once you've noticed why you want to drink, it's easier to switch it out with another activity. Take a bath to relax and celebrate a new job with a lie in or a nice meal out instead.
2. Plan your drinks in advance
Whilst January tends to be quieter than other months, there will be occasions when you're due a meal out or a birthday celebration in the pub with your friends. Don't feel like you have to avoid it because you're not drinking but plan what you're going to drink in advance to steer clear of temptation. Lot's of pub's and restaurants have a variety of alcohol free drinks these days, you can check out their menu's beforehand to decide what you'll drink before you get there and if you're London based Club Soda can recommend the best Pub's for booze free drinking and encourage you to embark on a Mindful Drinking Pub Crawl.
3. Reach out for support
January is a great time of year to be on the wagon as most people will be trying to improve their lives in some way (and lots of people you know may be doing Dry January too). If your friends and family don't get it, there are lots of online resources and private Facebook groups for you to turn too. Saying no to drinks can be hard but remember why you decided to embark on the Dry January challenge, and check in with friends or online groups regularly. They will help you keep yourself accountable and celebrate your achievements. If you don't know where to start looking, One Year No Beer have a very active Facebook group where you can check in for support or advice regularly, and if you fancy going a step further in your Dry January resolution they also offer a 90, or 365 day challenge...
4. Reward yourself
Celebrate the small wins. Stayed sober on your best friends birthday? Said no to a pint at the pub and opted for a Becks Blue? That's awesome, go you! Waking up without a hangover can be even more refreshing the month after Christmas so make plans to do things you enjoy. Been saying you want to try rock climbing, now's the time to book it! Always wanted to watch Breaking Bad? Treat yourself to a night (or seven) in and watch the boxset. Not drinking can gain you a lot of time and save you a lot of money, if you average £50 a week on two nights out you've saved £200 in a month of not drinking! Reward yourself by spending the money you've saved and/or enjoying your hangover free mornings.
Inspired to drink less and do more? Check out my blog: Girl and Tonic