Top Tips to stay on the wagon this January
According to a recent YouGov survey Britain is set to emerge unhealthier from lockdown, with four out of five people (81%) reporting an increase in harmful habits, including smoking, poor diet and staying up late. The sudden disruption to our old way of life has shaken our routines, with the ambiguity of life in lockdown leading us to replace old habits with new ones that we find comforting.
Almost a fifth (17%) of people claim to have started drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week (approx. two bottles of wine) during lockdown. However, even with the struggles of confinement, a record number of people have signed up to the official Dry January challenge. Some 6.5 million people said they would be taking part, a 67% rise compared to last year.
Sadly, for some, the pandemic has made Dry January seem like an impossible challenge this year. As we hunker down for lockdown 3.0, our motivation to stay sober for an entire month may have already started to wane. In addition, after an indulgent December, many of us have depleted levels of vitamin B, which affects our mood, appetite and energy.
If you’ve already hit the booze try not to be too disheartened – or chuck all your good intentions out of the window. Rather than beating yourself up, read our top tips for staying on the wagon this January.
Know your triggers
Always have a glass of wine with dinner? Do you wind down after Friday’s relentless video calls with a beer? Your mind may be addicted to the role alcohol plays in your life and those triggers can be really powerful. To cut down on drinking, it’s important to first understand what your triggers are and then try to approach those moments differently - Going for a run after work may just prevent you reaching for that beer. Exercise boosts serotonin and dopamine in the brain, and a quick shot of both means you’re less likely to want to drink.
Enjoy alcohol free alternatives
Just because you’re abstaining from alcohol, doesn’t mean you’re stuck with orange juice for the month. Thankfully, there are now many companies making non-alcoholic drinks, which will help you resist temptation when it’s calling your name. From the booze-free, but not buzz-free Three Spirit, to Brooklyn beer’s Special Effects, these alternatives taste just as good – if not better – than their alcoholic equivalents.
Take one day at a time
Look at Dry January as setting a target and achieving it every day for a month – 30 wins. You can always drink – ultimately, the choice is yours. The easiest way to reach your big goals is often to break them down into smaller goals. Not only does this turn massive goals into manageable chunks, but it allows you to see progress and build your momentum. Ongoing daily ‘wins’ can also help increase your motivation. TODAY, you’re not drinking and that’s all you need to worry about!
Remember the why
Why do you actually want to do this? Whether you have a health and fitness goal or you want to sleep better, even taking a short break from alcohol will be beneficial. A recent survey indicated that nine in ten people save money, seven in ten sleep better, and three in five lose weight. It can be helpful to think of Dry January as a reset for developing a healthier relationship with alcohol over the long term. Following a plan for your health will make you feel more empowered, which can be useful, especially at the minute when our external environments are in chaos. There’s no doubt that you’ll also feel a huge sense of achievement as the end of January rolls around.
If drinking is a reward – think about other ways to treat yourself. 79% of people said they saved money during Dry January. It’s important not to think of sobriety as a punishment. Research by Caxton Insurance suggests ditching alcohol for just five weeks could save you enough money for a short break away – a positive thing to look forward to when lockdown eases.
Don’t be a stranger
Let’s face it, quitting alcohol is hard, no matter what your relationship with it. If you’re thinking of throwing in the towel, resist the temptation to hide that you’re doing Dry January; letting friends and family know your goal not only allows them to support you, but also keeps you accountable. It also stops questions and social pressure that could derail your efforts. Research suggests that attempting the challenge with a friend can increase your chances of success by 65%. Joining an online community of likeminded people on the same journey, such as One Year Non Beer or Club Soda, can help to keep you on track and get you over the finish line.
But above all, don’t beat yourself up. If you have a drink, take things in stride and recommit to your original resolution. Fresh mornings and a clear head are all part of the joy of Dry January. Notice everything you don’t miss about drinking, rather than just what you feel you’re missing out on, and we promise it’ll make the journey easier.
Here’s a great Ted Talk on goal-setting that you might find useful on to set you up for success.