A Guide to Dry January

And just like that, a new year has begun! Cue the influx of messages about all the new habits and resolutions you must make to become the best version of yourself. While we will always support you in following whatever lights you up inside, we encourage you to focus on the why behind every new intention you set instead of the end goal. 

If one of the behaviors you're looking to reevaluate is your relationship with alcohol, you've come to the right place. All too often, we hear of people jumping into Dry January, spending a month abstaining and complaining, and then, on February 1st, picking up their drinking habits right where they left off. 

Understanding why you want to change your drinking habits will help you stay motivated throughout Dry January and make a lasting change (if that's what you want). Regardless of the end goal, we're here to support you on your journey. 

Where did Dry January originate? 

Dry January is a public health campaign that started in the United Kingdom. The charity Alcohol Change UK first introduced the campaign in 2013 to promote awareness of the health risks associated with alcohol consumption and to inspire individuals to take a break from drinking.

The idea behind Dry January was to bring people together to experience the health benefits of abstaining while raising funds for alcohol-related charities. Over the years, the campaign has gained popularity, and people worldwide now participate in this alcohol-free challenge as a way to kick off the new year with a focus on health and well-being.

Intentions or resolutions?

Usually, when we set a resolution, we want something in our lives to change. Change is great—it helps us move forward, evaluate what's working and not working, and challenges us in more ways than one. But how often do we take the time to focus on why we want to change? 

Setting a resolution is a great way to bring change, but resolutions typically are outcome-oriented and focus on the end result. They involve setting specific, concrete goals or objectives, while intention setting is more about the process rather than a specific outcome. Setting intentions may include identifying the values, attitudes, or behaviors you want to cultivate in your daily life. 

Resolutions can sometimes be associated with an "all-or-nothing" mindset. If the resolution is not achieved exactly as planned, you may feel like you have failed. If you set out not to drink all of January and you have a glass of wine over dinner with a friend one night, you might beat yourself up about it later and feel that you "failed" at Dry January. 

But if you set the intention to not drink during January because you want to be more present when socializing, you might feel better about your in-the-moment decision. Having one glass of wine when catching up with a friend isn't going to derail your progress of wanting to have more mindful interactions. Intentions also allow for greater flexibility. Though they provide a guiding principle, they are not set in stone like resolutions are. While resolutions are stated in goal-oriented language, intentions can be framed in more open-ended and positive language. They tend to focus on qualities like "I intend to not drink during the month to be more mindful and present with my social interactions." 

Having specific goals to complete by the end of the year can be an excellent way to incentivize yourself, but also remember that part of what makes life so enjoyable is the journey.

Questions to ask yourself before you start

Before jumping into Dry January or any period of abstaining from alcohol, it can be helpful to reflect on your motivations, expectations, and potential challenges. Here are some questions to consider and help you gain clarity as to why you want to change your drinking habits in the first place. 

Why am I doing this?

Understand the reason why you want to participate in Dry January. Are you seeking health benefits, wanting a break from routine, looking to save money, or is something else motivating you? Clarifying your purpose can help you stay committed.

What challenges might I face?

Anticipate potential challenges, such as social events, peer pressure, or stress triggers, and think about how you'll navigate them. Having a plan in place can increase your chances of staying committed.

How will I handle social situations without alcohol?

Consider how you'll navigate social events where alcohol is typically present. Will you communicate your decision openly when you're out and about? Will you bring non-alcoholic alternatives?

What will be my response to peer pressure?

Consider how you'll respond if others encourage you to "just have one glass" during the month. Having assertive yet respectful responses prepared can help you stay true to your decision not to drink.

How will I stay motivated throughout the month?

Identify sources of motivation and reminders to help you stay committed. From tracking your progress in an app to seeking support from friends or online communities, remind yourself that you are not going through this alone. Seeking external encouragement can help you focus on the positive changes you hope to experience. 

How will I celebrate achievements along the way?

Plan small rewards or celebrations for milestones throughout the month. Recognizing and celebrating your achievements can help maintain motivation.

What lessons do I hope to learn from this experience?

Reflect on what insights or lessons you want to gain from your alcohol-free month. When you take the time to dive into what Dry January means to you, it may help contribute to long-term changes in your relationship with alcohol. 

By reflecting on these questions, you can better prepare yourself for the challenges and opportunities that may arise during Dry January.

Dry January Tips 

This Dry January isn't our first rodeo. We've compiled a list of tips that have helped us in the past so you can feel confident and prepared for the month ahead. 

Plan Alternative Activities

Identify different activities to fill the time you would typically spend drinking. Engage in hobbies, exercise, or social activities that don't revolve around alcohol. Shift your focus to finding new, enjoyable experiences instead of focusing on what you "no longer can do." 

Communicate Your Decision

Let your friends, family, and social circle know about your decision to participate in Dry January. Being transparent about your intentions may help manage expectations, garner support, and reduce any social pressure to drink during the month.

Explore Non-Alcoholic Options

Experiment with non-alcoholic alternatives to your favorite drinks. There are many alcohol-free beverages available that can still provide a sense of ritual and enjoyment without the effects of alcohol. And just because you aren't drinking alcohol doesn't mean you have to give up having tasty drinks. We have a collection of alcohol-free cocktail kits that can help you find enjoyment in preparing non-alcoholic beverages. 

Seek Support and Stay Accountable

Connecting with others who share similar goals can provide support, motivation, and a sense of accountability. Share your progress, challenges, and successes with those who understand your journey.

Remember that the key to a successful Dry January is to be kind to yourself and celebrate the positive changes you experience. It's an opportunity to reassess your habits, gain insights, and potentially make lasting changes to your relationship with alcohol.

Written by: Elena Rogers

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