Last year, I wrote some pointers to help people get through a month without drinking. After finishing 2021 having largely given it up (but also heading into the holidays with a few weeks strung together of increased lubrication), I figured it’d be good to revisit.
I’m good at drinking. I’ve been doing it pretty consistently for 20 years now. Drinking lightens my mood. I’m more gregarious, know my way around a cocktail list, and I generally know my limits. But, I’ve also been a little too good at drinking, letting excess quiet reason.
In 2021, I drank on a couple dozen nights between the new year and August, when we had our baby. After that, in part because my wife was drinking a little bit and things were opening up again, I started drinking more and more. Do I drink too much? Health experts say I do. (For men, it’s 15 or more drinks per week. Seven or more for women.)
I’m ready to take an extended break again. Here are some tips on getting through the month.
IF IT HELPS, ADD ACCOUNTABILITY
Promise yourself. Then, if you think you might need some more accountability, verbalize the commitment to others. You could tell your partner. You could tell your kids. Your parents. Your favorite text chain. Maybe social media followers. Throughout the month, share, or don’t share, as much as you’re comfortable with - we all know where we fall on a privacy spectrum.
Or, approach it the opposite way. Maybe this is something you do for yourself, by yourself.
GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT
Skipping a nightly glass of wine or cold beer may not be the easiest thing to do. Every day you stay sober, give yourself a hand. You earned it.
I like to mark each day on an app. For Dry January, I use Streaks. Here’s how I tracked last year, leading up to when we had the baby.
TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME
The best advice I’ve seen.
FIND SOMETHING THAT REPLACES THE RITUAL
For some people, making that first drink of the night is as much about marking the transition from working to not. Or maybe it’s after putting the kids down. If you’re trying to do a sober stretch, start with a new ritual. Replace making a cocktail, opening a beer, or pouring a glass of wine with pouring a cold Betera over ice and adding a sliced citrus wedge. (see how I slipped in a product mention?)
If you want to dive deeper into making non-alcoholic drinks, we highly recommend Good Drinks by Julia Bainbridge. She’s a James Beard nominated-writer and wrote the definitive guide to non-alcoholic cocktails. It’s stylish and inventive. Her drinks are exquisite. Betera also has a number of drink recipes here.
IT GETS EASIER AFTER THE FIRST COUPLE OF DAYS
You’ll feel healthier. Skin looks better. No foggy mornings. You’re skipping a ton of nightly calories. Momentum will build - Ride the wave.
Having given up drinking for much of the year, I can truly say the advantages far exceed the drinking itself. Now, on mornings after having drinks, I’m more lethargic and I’m less likely to get a workout in. Trust me, the benefits stack up.
THE PANDEMIC PREPARED YOU FOR THIS
Let’s get real here. We’re survivors of two years that tested us left, right, and center. If we can mask up, scrub our hands endlessly, keep ourselves together as well as we have, well... Giving up a month of drinking just might be easier than ever. Plus, with this new variant, it might just be good to lay low for a month.
BECOME ONE WITH THE SCALE. SERIOUSLY.
Cutting out drinking is a fantastic way to lose weight. I dropped weight in the first half of the year.. Heads up, though, the weight loss comes faster at the end of the month. Wait for it.
THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE IT IS TO START
Not sure if you can do a whole month? Have a birthday? A team in the playoff hunt? There’s always always always going to be something up ahead. But, if you don’t start now, you’ll never know if you can make it through those days down the road. Plus, after some time off, you might realize you don’t need to drink in those moments. Realizing you’re stronger than alcohol is a hell of a thing.
Here’s to another Dry January. Together. We got this.