Dry January vs Fierce February – what I learned about saying no

victory rolls

Dry January is officially OVER. Having enjoyed our last hangover free weekend, many of us are reaping the rewards, including better sleep and more cash to spend on other things we enjoy. Well done to everyone who completed Dry January without falling off the wagon. For those who found it a challenge, it does seem that most of our social lives evolve around food and drink…

Dry January: What I learned

I’d love to say that I completed Dry January without a ‘wobble’, but I cannot tell a lie. I managed most of my month alcohol free, but by mid-month I succumbed to two glasses of wine. I think my body was missing the sugar more than anything else. However, I did notice that spending most of January alcohol free put me in a much better headspace. I found more time to write, I could feel my memory improving and I even found time to start learning some French (j’apprend le Francais!). I saved some money, and genuinely didn’t feel like I missed out too much on being sociable with my friends. I enjoyed brunches, movies and afternoon teas instead of wine in the evening. I found that throwing myself into writing or learning something new in the evening – even watching an interesting documentary with a cup of tea – distracted me from any urges.

If you’re thinking of extending dry January into February, you may have been ignoring peer pressure to pursue a healthier lifestyle. It takes around 21 days for you to adjust to new habits and you probably don’t miss drinking quite as much. When you don’t drink alcohol for a month, your work performance and concentration improve and your cholesterol lowers. This can help you make time for body-positive exercise, hobbies and crafts!

My Dry January tips for avoiding Fierce February

Here are some tips for those who do want to drink in February, but in moderation:

  • When you go out, pace yourself. Sip your drink slowly.
  • Try “drink spacers.” This means alternating your alcoholic drinks with water or a soft drink.
  • Don’t skip dinner. Eating some food will help alcohol be absorbed into your system slowly.
  • Avoid triggers if you can. Do certain people or places make you feel the urge to drink even when you didn’t want to? To be more comfortable in a social situation, cope with problems or manage your mood, do your best to seek other ways of dealing with these issues. Search for healthier pursuits at these times.
  • Don’t give in to peer pressure. If you’re offered a drink you don’t want, respond with a polite, yet firm “No, thanks.” If you’re ready in these situations, you’ll be less likely to give in. If you hesitate, people may not be convinced and you may talk yourself into it.

Many who stop drinking alcohol all together can quickly adjust to their new healthier lifestyle. Having said that, it’s possible to feel a sense of isolation if you don’t want to go out and watch your friends drinking. Don’t despair – there are plenty of alternatives for those who don’t want to drink alcohol. Healthy activities and new hobbies are a wonderful way to socialise and meet new people. If you need a little inspiration you can find all kinds of how-to guides on Mookychick, from infinity scarf crochet patterns to tea parties, steampunk dinner parties (with Gilded Age mock champagne recipes) and interesting hobbies galore.  The world is full of exciting new endeavours that can be done on the cheap.

As for going out with friends but curtailing the drinking? Soft drinks and juices are just as enjoyable with a meal,  gig or show. Being at an event you enjoy should prove a perfect distraction if you’re trying to avoid a boozy night!

Main photo: G. Hernandez, 2.0

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