Top Tips To Give Up Booze During Dry January
It's that time of year again, where millions of us try and ditch the drink for an entire month.
With everyone cooped up in their homes, many have turned to booze to deal with the boredom, using it as a crutch to get through lockdown.
According to Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind Dry January, almost a third (28 percent) of people admitted to drinking more in 2020 than they did in 2019.
You can take this quick quiz to check how healthy your drinking is.
And if you've signed up to the challenge to bin the booze and are finding it tough, the charity has some handy tips to help you keep going
Remind yourself of your motivations
It's important to keep in mind why you are doing it. Try making a list of the things you hope to gain during the month and rank them, giving each one a score out of 10.
While money is always a tangible motivation, what is the real reason? "This will help you take your Dry January seriously, and keep going if things get tough," Alcohol Change UK advises.
Challenges are always easier when they're done as part of a team. Tell your friends about it, put posts up on social media tracking your progress, and it will help keep you on track - especially if you're having doubts that you'll make it to the end.
Plan for situations where there will be alcohol
Now, with most of the country in near enough total lockdown, one thing you won't have to worry about is going to the pub. But that doesn't mean there won't be moments where you'll be around booze, and it's important to think ahead and maybe get some alcohol-free options at the ready.
Practise saying no
Obviously you don't owe anyone an explanation for why you're not drinking, but there is often a pressure that comes with it to have one.
The charity adds: "Maybe 'I'm doing Dry January' won't always be your go-to reason, so what else would work for you? I'm driving/looking after my mental health/running a virtual marathon tomorrow/looking after the kids in the morning? Just make sure if someone offers you a drink out of the blue, you've got your answer ready."
Plan some activities to look forward to
Due to Covid restrictions, it might be a little trickier than in previous years to take up an exciting hobby or get out and visit new places - but that doesn't mean it's impossible.
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It could be as simple as going for a walk with your partner or housemate, taking up running or yoga, learning a new language, or even diving into a cookery book and rustling up some interesting meals.
"Showing yourself that you don't need alcohol to have fun will stand you in brilliant stead going forward," says Alcohol Change UK.
Prepare for slip-ups
Nobody is perfect, no matter what you might tell yourself. So take off some of the pressure and accept that you might stumble from time to time, and that it's OK.
"Just think about why it happened - what made it difficult not to drink? Is there something you can do next time to stop you drinking? That way, if the same situation comes up again, you'll be better prepared," the charity suggests.
Keep a diary
This can be a simple diary entry you make every day, noting down how you feel and what you've done, which will give you something to look back on and see how far you have come.
Or you could start a blog to keep track of your Dry January journey, which could inspire friends and colleagues to carry on with their own challenge or to take it up.
"Making time each day, even just a couple of minutes, to remind yourself of your Dry January journey will really help you to see it through to the end," the charity adds.
Phone a friend
When you're going through any change in life, speaking to a mate can often make all the difference, and give you that extra push to carry on when you might be having doubts.
You might also have the words that your pal needs to hear in order to help them along with their journey.
Think about why you drink, and make a change
"For many people the triggers fall into one of four categories - Social Occasions, Treats, Negative Emotions or Defences Down. These can be internal (thoughts, feelings or sensations) or external (things going on around you)," Alcohol Change UK explains.
"Knowing your triggers can really help you to plan for tempting times, and work out some things you can do instead."
So if you find yourself feeling anxious or stressed at any time, try going for a run or a walk, or doing some stretches. It might help clear your head and ease your stress.
Ask for help
This can often be the most difficult thing to do, but if you're struggling to cope, it's important to know there are people out there who can support you.
The Alcoholics Anonymous helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0800 9177 650.
Drinkline is a free, confidential helpline. You can call them on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am-8pm, weekends 11am-4pm).
Featured Image Credit: PA
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