This is How Dry January Can Kickstart Your Sobriety Journey
Over the past few years, there’s been lots of talk about the potential benefits of a Dry January. Whether you want to improve your sleep, regulate your blood sugar, or need to save back up some of the money you spent on gifts, giving Dry January a shot allows you to “test drive” sobriety.
Why Do Dry January?
Once the holiday season, one heavily associated with indulging in alcoholic beverages, comes to an end on New Year’s Day, many people decide to give up alcohol cold turkey for the rest of the month.
For many people, committing to stay clean and sober for 31 days can seem way less daunting than resolving never to drink again or give up alcohol for an entire year.
Embarking on a Dry January can also serve as a mental, physical, and spiritual reset. One study found that most people who returned to drinking after Dry January had healthier drinking habits later the same year.
How to Stay Sober for a Month
If you feel tempted to reach for the bottle of wine at the store, take a moment to pause and take stock of any thoughts or feelings you’re having. Are you feeling stressed from a long day and need to unwind? Do you want to celebrate reaching a goal? Just bored? Identifying your triggers can provide valuable information on what motivates you to drink. Make sure to keep a nonjudgmental mindset when assessing your thoughts, as adding shame into the mix will only make things worse.
Once you have identified some of the things that make you want to drink, it can be helpful to brainstorm alternative activities for these situations. Using the examples from above, here are some alternatives you can implement when experiencing these emotions:
- Stress: Complete a puzzle, listen to mindfulness meditation, or do some self-care treatments.
- Celebration: Cook a nice meal, buy a little treat or attend a favorite sporting event.
- Boredom: Go for a walk through nature, watch an exciting movie, or play video games.
Remember that choosing to abstain from alcohol for a predetermined amount of time voluntarily is a privilege many people in addiction recovery don’t have. Try to be mindful of your sober friends and how you discuss your experience with them.
What to Expect after Dry January
What now? It’s time to take stock of your experience. How easy or challenging Dry January was for you can be a telling metric as to what comes next. Here’s what to consider if not drinking for one month felt:
Easy: If not drinking was a breeze, you feel rejuvenated, and you didn’t find yourself obsessing over alcohol, then that can be a good indicator of a healthy relationship with alcohol.
Challenging: It could be time to give your relationship with alcohol an honest look. Speaking with a licensed professional like a social worker or mental health counselor might provide additional guidance.
Unsure: Consider extending your sobriety a little longer, whatever feels good to you, whether that means an extra day, week, or month. Feeling a sense of resolve after completing your trial sobriety – if that’s what you want to do – is essential for your well-being.
You are the only person who can honestly assess your relationship with alcohol. Talking to people who have been in a similar place of contemplation can offer valuable insights it would be harder to glean alone.
If you need support to stop drinking during Dry January and beyond, get in touch with us at the sober living community of Ethos Recovery.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.
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