Dry January is a challenge in which people attempt to cut out alcohol for the month of January. Many people find dry January helps them shed excess pounds gained by overindulgence during the holidays. People also find they need a break from drinking in general after December. If you want to do dry January, find replacements for alcohol. Fill your calendar with events that do not require booze. Identify your triggers for drinking and try to adjust your schedule to avoid such triggers. If you do slip up, do not let it ruin your entire month. Do not see indulging in one or two drinks as a reason to go back to alcohol altogether.
Finding Replacements for Alcohol
Find physical challenges. Many people give up alcohol in January to shed some weight and improve their overall health. If this is part of your dry January goal, give yourself some physical challenges. Having physical goals will distract you from drinking and the endorphins you gain from exercise can help replace the high you feel from alcohol.
- Set a goal beyond your current fitness abilities. For example, if you can run about 10 minutes without getting winded, try increasing your running time to 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, and so on.
- If you’re dedicated to a fitness goal, your energy will go towards that. This will make it easier to avoid thinking about alcohol. You will also have less desire to drink, as you likely won’t want to sabotage your fitness goals by overindulging in booze.
Make alcohol free cocktails. Many people enjoy the taste of a particular type of alcohol or cocktail. You do not have to go back to alcoholic beverages to satisfy cravings. Look in to making your own alcoholic cocktails or ordering alcohol free beverages at bars.
- You can mix things like juice, bitters, and seltzer water to create imitations of drinks like Old Fashions and Gin and Tonics. Think about what flavors you crave and try to replicate them. For example, if you love mimosas for brunch, try mixing flavored seltzer water with orange juice to satisfy the craving.
- You can purchase alcohol free wine and beer at the grocery store.
- If you’re going out to a bar for a social event, plan your drinks in advance. Many bars have menus online that list alcohol-free drinks or cocktails. Find something you can treat yourself to that does not contain booze.
Start a new hobby. Many people lean on alcohol for entertainment. If you often have a few drinks to pass the time, find other ways to entertain yourself.
- Join a class. You can try a cooking class, improv class, painting class, or another class that interests you. The money you’ll save on alcohol can be put towards educating yourself.
- Take up a hobby you’ve neglected. If you used to sew but don’t anymore, get back into that.
See more movies. Many people enjoy seeing all the Oscar nominations before February. Try to focus your attention towards seeing plenty of movies in January. Instead of gong out to the bars with friends, plan a movie night.
- Keep in mind, some theaters do serve alcohol on certain nights of the week. Try to avoid these kinds of theaters to stay on track with your goals.
Do errands you’ve been putting off. Staying busy can keep you away from alcohol. Many people see January as a time to reorganize and change their lifestyle. If there are any projects or errands you’ve been putting off, indulge in these instead of drinking.
- Think about anything you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t. Maybe there’s a drawer in your bedroom that needs reorganizing. Maybe you’ve been meaning to finally figure out a budget to pay off your credit card.
- Use January as an opportunity to sit down and figure out these things instead of indulging in alcohol.
Be aware of why you drink. Figuring out the reasons you typically drink can help you cope emotionally. You can realize what role alcohol plays in your life, allowing you to find other means to fill that role.
- First, think about when you tend to drink. Do you drink socially on the weekends? Do you usually have a beer or two after a long work day?
- Once you’ve identified situations where you typically drink, think about why you’re drinking. If you, say, usually have a few beers alone Thursdays and Fridays, maybe the stress of work makes you want to unwind. Think about other things you could do to unwind. Maybe you could go for a long walk instead or give yourself a treat, like a bowl or ice cream, instead of reaching for the booze.
Identify and avoid triggers. There may be certain situations or moments in which you’re more tempted than others. Try to identify times where triggers to drink occur. Once you’ve identified these triggers, try to alter your schedule to avoid them.
- For example, maybe your office has happy hour on Fridays. In order to avoid attending, try to schedule something just after work on Friday. If you, say, have a spin class at the gym every Friday, this is a great excuse to skip out on happy hour.
Write down your reasons for quitting. It can be hard to stay motivated if you lose track of the reasons behind your goals. When you start feeling tempted to drink, get out a pen and paper and write down all the reasons you quit.
- Think about your mentality when you began dry January. Why were you motivated to quit drinking? Was it to shed holiday weight? Was it to remind yourself how to entertain yourself without alcohol?
- Write down as many reasons you can remember in regards to why you quit. You can keep this list on hand and consult it when you need added motivation.
- Seek support from friends. It can be hard to quit drinking all by yourself. Try asking friends and family members for support. You can let people know not to invite to events where there is a lot of alcohol. You can also ask a friend or family member to do dry January with you. The two of you can keep one another motivated throughout the month.Oftentimes, people feel it’s appropriate to encourage others to drink, even after they’ve politely declined. If you have friends or family members that say things like, “Come on, just have one,” politely let them know you don’t need this extra pressure.
Avoiding Common Pitfalls
Do not let a slip up destroy your goals. You may very well slip up during dry January. Many people end up indulging in one or two drinks or end up drinking with friends socially one night. Instead of seeing this slip up as a reason to quit altogether, see it as a small mistake and get back on track the next day.
- Remember, if you’ve been drinking a lot during December, limiting your drinking in January is an accomplishment. If you can go all of January drinking only once or twice, this is still something to be proud of. One mistake in dry January does not mean the month is shot.
Allow yourself small rewards. Alcohol is often a reward for people. You may have a drink at the end of a long day, for example. Many people combine dry January with other goals for the new year, but do not eliminate all your rewards at once. If you’re too strict with yourself, this increases your likelihood of slipping up. Replace alcohol with other rewards instead of eliminating rewards altogether.
- You may find you save a lot of money not drinking. Use that money to indulge in another way. Order takeout on Friday night instead of spending it at the bar. Buy yourself a new outfit on Sunday afternoon instead of a glass or two of wine.
Avoid bars altogether. While you can order non-alcoholic drinks at bars, it’s easy to feel awkward or uncomfortable being the only one not drinking. You also may be under pressure to drink if a friend is, say, buying a round or buying shots. For the most part, try to avoid bars altogether during dry January. Only go to bars if it’s an event you cannot avoid, like a good friend’s birthday party.
See dry January as a way to adjust long term habits. Going dry for a single month is unlikely to make long term changes to your health. Many people who go dry for the month of January end up returning to bad habits after the month has passed. Therefore, try to see dry January as a way to address and break bad alcohol habits. See it as a route to long term changes rather than a month-long break.
- Think about how you feel not drinking. Pay attention to the benefits, like increased energy, reduced anxiety, extra income, and more free time.
- Consider how you can cut back in February. You can plan to, say, only drink once a week or every other week as your New Years goal.
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