What’s the point of Dry January, and is it really worth it?
So this week I like thousands of others, have succumbed to the thought of life without alcohol for a month or even longer – three months in my case, as I have committed to Dry January and beyond. But what is it all about? Does it really work? Is it worth all the effort?
Run by Alcohol Change UK, Dry January is a campaign encouraging people to stop drinking alcohol throughout the first month of the year. There is extensive evidence to support the view that giving up alcohol will have significant impact on not only the health of those who participate, but also on their drinking habits long term.
So what are the benefits of Dry January?
The benefits to the health of an individual are numerous, and include improvements to their liver, blood pressure and sleeping patterns; people generally feeling happier within themselves – which can’t be a bad thing!
Dry January offers a period of reflection.
I know that for me, this is an area where I am already finding benefit. We all live very busy lives and don’t readily set aside time to take stock, reflect and see what we can do better. Dry January is enabling me to realise I do have control of my habits and I can administer that control when needed.
Dry January makes people more consciously aware of their actions.
Submitting to Dry January has already made me more aware of my drinking habits, enabled me to change my behaviour, and therefore enjoy a better quality of life. Awareness is key in all aspects of our lives, and the more we can harness our awareness, the more we realise we have more control than we first thought.
So what are the lessons to be learnt from Dry January?
There are many lessons we can learn from Dry January and we can apply these lessons to all aspects of our lives. Addiction is a cunning beast, and whatever our addiction is, it gets our brain to lie to us, convincing us that our addiction is our friend. Of course this isn’t true; it’s just a story we tell ourselves – a coping mechanism to convince ourselves that our addiction is good for us.
How many of our friends would actually try to kill us?
When working with someone for an addiction problem, part of the work we do is to make them aware of this thought – how many of your friends would actually try to kill you? I let them sit with this thought and help them realise they no longer need the addiction in their lives. Once they are aware they no longer need the addiction we can, using various tools and techniques, help them to be free of it forever.
But won’t it make me appear awkward, standout and make me feel like I’m not one of the crowd?
The beauty of feeling awkward at times, in this case of being sober, is that you become who you are; you can no longer use the thing you were hiding behind as an excuse for not being you. So, far from making you awkward, being sober helps you to get in touch with the real you. We shouldn’t be worried about who we are, and being sober allows us to be ourselves at all times – at home and in public. How good is that!
Could the skills we learn by following Dry January be useful in other aspects of our lives?
Dry January introduces us to abstinence and self-control. These skills are useful in all aspects of our lives. They are useful for young people, enabling them to control their addictions to phones, to social media and to the fear of ‘missing out’; all phobias that many suffer from todays and which lead to anxiety, stress and believing that everybody is having a much better life than we are – yet another story we tell ourselves!
And, finally, is Dry January good or bad for us?
As with all things the answer is, ‘…. it depends!’ But, overall, Dry January helps reduce your alcohol dependency, helps you lose weight, and helps you feel fitter, healthier and happier. And who doesn’t want more happiness in their life?