Susan, founder of The Wellbeing and Wellness Coach is sharing why she’s choosing not to do dry January.
There are so many benefits to going alcohol free, there really are! It’s well known that cutting back on alcohol, or even abstaining completely, can help with mental health, physical health, energy, sleep and even improves the quality of your skin. For some people dry January is a fantastic initiative, allowing them to take a break and teaching them new strategies which help them drink less during the rest of the year. For many people, dry January serves as a reason to drink more in the run up to their period of abstinence and binge afterwards, only to then return to their normal drinking habits.
To be controversial though, what if we saw dry January as an initiative that reinforces unhealthy thinking towards alcohol?! I personally have a history of having a very unhealthy relationship with both food and alcohol. This including rigid regimes, restrictive diets, using food and alcohol to manage or even numb emotions and moving through regular binge restrict cycles. The last time I did dry January was many years ago, before I was a Mum. I remember clearly celebrating our last night of ‘freedom’, then going crazy on the first of February with a major drinking session that finished at 5am.
The approach I recommend would be to review your relationship with alcohol – all year round! The British Liver Trust recommend having several alcohol-free days each week rather than abstaining for just one month a year. Consider how much you’re drinking and why and know the warning signs that you may need to review your drinking habits. There are many signs to look out for and I’ve highlighted some to consider below.
- Regularly drinking alone
There’s nothing wrong with watching a film with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc but if you’re regularly hitting the alcohol alone, especially when others in the house may be turning to the PG tips then you may want to rethink this habit.
- Not being able to stop
A good measure for whether you’re able to moderate your drinking effectively is whether or not you can stop. If you find you’re not able to stop after one or two glasses, then you may be experiencing a level of dependency.
- Reaching out to alcohol as your number one strategy for managing emotions and stress
While alcohol may give you an immediate high, this is short lived. The truth is that if you regularly drink to get a high, you will gradually have to drink more to get the same high which is not great for our health. If you’re running short on strategies to manage stress and emotions maybe, it’s time to explore new ideas. This could will be different for everyone and could range from taking a run to journaling, practicing breathing exercises, yoga, calling a friend or having a long soak in the bath.
- Frequent hangovers that prevent you from exercising or doing other activities
If you’re waking up fuzzy headed and are struggling to remember the night before or your hangovers are impacting on your work, ability to exercise or ability to be present for your family and friends it’s time to rethink!
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If you feel you may be experiencing dependency to alcohol you can find information about how to seek support here.