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Struggling with dry Jan? Try these tips

Written by Sarah on

Nearly 9 million people in the UK will participate in dry January this year, according to Alcohol Change UK. Are you one of them? If you are and you’re finding it a struggle, see if any of these tips can help you.

This is my 12th sober January so I’ve had quite a lot of experience of not drinking! These are some strategies which have helped me to stick with it.

1. Don’t try and do all the things you would usually do whilst you are drinking. It’s too hard to try and socialise in places where you are surrounded by alcohol or where you would usually have a drink. It’s like trying to diet on an all-inclusive holiday! Meet friends for a coffee or a walk instead of in the pub or have people over for food.

2. Take this as an opportunity to try new things. Maybe you’ve always fancied joining a walking group, an art class or learning a new skill. If you’d usually be hungover on a Sunday morning, reclaim that time to try something new.

3. Find alternative beverages to alcohol. If you can’t avoid being in social situations where you’d normally drink have a plan for what you are going to have instead of your usual tipple. Most hospitality venues now offer a range of non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits and if they don’t tickle your fancy and you’re sick of soft drinks don’t be scared to ask for a hot drink (it is January after all and it’s bloody freezing!) I recommend some of my favourite booze alternatives here.

4. Have your soundbites for why you’ve decided to do dry January ready for any acquaintances who are going to try and persuade you to share a bottle of something (despite the popularity of dry Jan and non-drinking generally nowadays we still all have these people around!) You know your reasons and you can decide what you want to share with others (true or not) – ‘I fancied a challenge’, ‘I’m trying to lose weight’ etc can all be good non-drinking excuses if you don’t want to get into any more complex reasons.

5. Avoid seeing people who you know you will struggle to stay sober around (either because your relationship with them is so intertwined with drinking or you find their company so stressful it triggers you to drink). It’s only a month, you can get away with avoiding most friends and acquaintances for that amount of time. If you live with them, it’s obviously a bit trickier...

6. Avoid watching tv programmes and films which centre alcohol. It’s amazing how often alcohol is used as a trope in drama for a character to relax at the end of a stressful day or celebrate a successful one. Again, it’s only for a month! Maybe try watching something a bit different to your normal viewing.

7. Listen to some sobriety podcasts. Even if you’re only doing a month of not drinking you might find it reassuring to hear about other people who don’t drink.

8. Same goes for books and blogs. Catherine Gray’s book The Unexpected Joys of Being Sober is my favourite.

9. If you end up giving in to the urge to drink it doesn’t mean you have to go on a bender, you could just have one or two and then restart your challenge the next day. Try not to feel like a failure and give yourself a hard time. If you drink alcohol on a regular basis, to suddenly stop for a month is tough. If you manage to do it then it’s a fantastic achievement but if you don’t then that’s ok, maybe now wasn’t the right time for you to try this challenge.

10. If you found not drinking a lot harder than you were expecting then it might be a good time to explore your relationship with alcohol. There are tons of great organisations out there that can support you with this. Alcohol Change UK is a good place to start.

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