Tips & Tricks for Dry January
I know — it's ironic for a wine blog to give advice on how NOT to drink. But even those of us who center part of our lives around alcohol know that it's healthy to take a break from it every now and then, and few times offer a better opportunity to do so than January, with the promise of a fresh new year and the increasing popularity of going sober for the month.
But quitting alcohol cold turkey, even just for 31 days, is tough, especially since many of us have likely been relying on it more than ever it to cope with the dumpster fire that was 2020 (I know I have.) Luckily, there's a wealth of resources available to provide sober support, and I've pooled advice from a few of my favorites as I prepare for my own first Dry January.
1. Find fun drink alternatives
Not drinking alcohol will be a lot easier if you're not stuck drinking plain 'ole tap water. And thankfully, as the sober movement has grown, so, too, has the number of booze-free alternatives. Non-alcoholic beer and wine has been around for awhile, but a new trend in recent years is botanical-based drinks that offer some of the same benefits of alcohol (relaxation, anti-stress, etc.) but without the actual alcohol. And a lot of them mimic the flavors of craft cocktails, too, so you don't feel like you're missing out. A quick Google search will pull up several options, so feel free to do your own research, but the one I decided to try is Curious Elixirs. My shipment is still en route, so I can't yet attest to the taste of the cocktails, but the descriptions alone have me excited. For instance, their newest offering is a twist on a cherry chocolate Old Fashioned; according to their website, it "infuses the immunity boost of elderberry, ginger, chicory and cayenne with the power of legendary aphrodisiac shatavari, a body balancing Ayurvedic ingredient known as The Queen of Herbs." Their repertoire also includes takes on an Aperol Spritz, Negroni and Dark & Stormy.
2. Focus on the benefits
While drinking certainly has benefits of its own (as previously mentioned, it can promote relaxation and melt away some of your stress, and often lends itself to fun times with friends,) NOT drinking has just as many (and let's be honest, probably more.) Among them are:
Clearer, firmer, glowing skin
Extra disposable income
Better sex (yes, really)
Deeper, more restorative sleep
Greater motivation and productivity at work
More authentic fulfilling relationships
Stronger immune system
Smaller risk of developing cancer
This list is pulled directly from Rosamund Dean's book "Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life," which I highly recommend for anyone looking to participate in Dry January or even make lasting changes to their relationship with alcohol. In addition to walking you through all of the ways in which reducing your alcohol intake can improve your life, Dean also gives research- and psychology-based strategies on exactly how to do so.
3. Build a support system
Just like a new diet and exercise regime will be more successful if you undergo it with a friend, the same goes for Dry January. Ideally your partner or best friend will join you for the month, but if they don't want to, that's totally okay (nobody like the person who pushes their beliefs or opinions on others, so don't force the idea on them.) And just because you may not personally know someone who's doing Dry January doesn't mean you're alone. Social media is great for connecting with others who have similar mindsets. One Instagram account I've been enjoying lately is @1000HoursDry. While the account mostly focuses on long-term sobriety or at least longer term (1000 hours = 42 days), it's still full of helpful advice, motivation and a community of others who will cheer you on, no matter what your goals are. There are also several offshoot accounts based on demographics (for instance, there's @1000HoursDryBabes for women and @1000HoursDryLGBTQIA) or location (including @1000HoursDryMD,) so you're guaranteed to find your tribe to get you through the month.
4. Discover a new hobby
For many of us (and I'm looking at myself in the mirror here,) drinking is a hobby. Almost more than the taste of wine itself, I enjoy seeking out new varietals or wineries, learning the history behind the bottles and testing my nose and palate by trying to pinpoint the different flavor profiles of a glass of wine. You might be the same way with craft beer or cocktails, which means that come January, you'll have some extra time on your hands, and unless you fill that time with something else, it'll be easy to give into the boredom that often spurs drinking. So instead of picking up the bottle, pick up that old guitar from high school that's been gathering dust in the corner (again, I'm talking to myself here) or finally take that online calligraphy class you've been thinking about for months. Master Class is a great tool for learning new skills from world-class professionals if you're in need of some inspiration.
There are many more blogs with many more tips on how to navigate Dry January, and I encourage you to seek them out; the more tools and resources you have available, the more likely you'll be to succeed, but I wanted to share the strategies that I plan on employing in the hopes that you'll find them helpful, as well. So good luck, and cheers to the New Year!