If you’ve been following me from the beginning, you might remember that I did I Dry January in 2019 during my first year teaching. If you’re not familiar, a Dry January is exactly what it sounds like: not consuming alcohol for the first month of the year.
My first Dry January was almost entirely successful, but at the end of my first semester teaching (around the end of the month), I decided to have a few drinks to celebrate. Other than that, I was stone-cold sober. I wasn’t disappointed that I broke my sobriety before the end of the month, because it was a very intentional choice. But this year, I’m looking forward to making it through the whole month without a single drink.
Two years ago, this was more of a challenge, because I knew I would feel the fear of missing out whenever I turned down plans to go to bars with my friends, or I’d feel FOMO for going out with them and not drinking. This year, that’s much less of an issue since none of my friends will be inside any bars, and warm outdoor happy hours aren’t exactly an option with the changing weather and increase in COVID cases.
So, in a way, this Dry January should be set to easy mode, since I’m not leaving the house and I’m not drinking socially nearly as much as I normally would. Zoom hangouts, for me, don’t bring the same encouragement to drink.
Like most people, I saw my alcohol consumption increase in the beginning of lockdown, mostly as a result of boredom and probably anxiety. I wasn’t binge drinking, since that’s more of a social thing for me, but I was frequently consuming a glass of wine or two at night. My personal rule was just to not drink two nights in a row, which is admittedly kind of a low bar, at least for me.
But it got old. My tolerance increased, making drinking less enjoyable, and the novelty of it really started to wear off, making it feel like empty calories since I really wasn’t getting the same value out of the experience.
When I did Dry January two years ago, my motivation was that I was binge drinking quite a lot in social situations, and while I had fun going out, it tended to really mess up my mental health the next day. It made me feel less productive and would sometimes agitate my depression and anxiety. This year, things are different. I just don’t think alcohol is adding much to my life, and I’m looking forward to using this time as a reset. In the past month or so, I’ve somehow found the motivation to make healthier choices. For me, this is being mindful about my diet and I’ve even started practicing yoga almost every day (this is not normal for me at this stage in my life).
So, I’m trying to really lean into my wellness now that I’ve somehow magically found the motivation to. Don’t ask me how, because I have legitimately no idea, but here I am, so I’m going to do the best with it that I can. I think giving myself a little reset with alcohol is one way I can really lean into these positive changes.
I want to be clear that I don’t think alcohol consumption is wrong or unhealthy in its own right, I just think that we should always be very reflective, analytical, and honest about whether or not our actions align with our values, and whether or not our habits are serving us as they are. As for the effects on my budget, I’m not sure I expect to save all that much money, but we’ll see what happens!
So, I’m quitting drinking for the month of January. I’m going to try to see it all the way through this time around but, as always, extend myself all grace and no shame in this exercise. I’ll keep you posted with updates and reflections along the way.