Unlike my last attempt at Dry January, this year’s was a full success. I didn’t have a sip of alcohol, and I don’t have any regrets from abstaining, either. Like I said last month, this year was definitely on easy mode due to significantly less social interaction– but that doesn’t mean it was always easy.
I was able to meet up with friends a few times this month, and each time came with the slight temptation to drink. This by no means ruined my night, but I knew it would’ve been fun to join my friends in the festivities and help me stay warm in outdoor meetups. Again, this didn’t cause any major regrets.
In addition to the temptation to drink socially, this month also brought a lot of high-anxiety days. From insurrection to impeachment to inauguration, all compiled on top of the still-raging pandemic, it was more difficult to be a sober American– and D.C. resident– than I expected. But I’m glad one of my negative coping mechanisms was taken from me at this time, because it gave me more opportunity to really sit with my thoughts and feelings, rather than attempt to numb or avoid them.
That was a big benefit of this sober month, to be sure. But there are some other benefits I believe I experienced as a result of this practice as well. I have to preface this by saying that I’m not gifted at really noticing the differences in my body or experience as a result of changing my lifestyle, and I ALWAYS second-guess myself as to whether the shifts really happened, and if I can accurately cite the source. With practicing yoga over the past few months, however, I have been checking in with my body much more and I do feel that I have a better sense of my physical experience in the world. I still can’t always cite a cause of the changes in my body, but I will tell you my noticings and allow the question to remain as to whether sobriety was the source.
- Sleep. While my sleep has been much improved since lockdown began (no commute, better work hours, etc.), it has been highly consistent this month. I haven’t experienced the same trouble falling asleep that I typically might, and I almost always feel well rested, unless I stay up too late. This change has been so beneficial to my overall wellness.
- Eating. This change was a negative one, I think: I noticed that my diet was highly inconsistent and I was more likely to overeat and snack late at night (note: I just consider overeating when I eat due to boredom, anxiety, etc. rather than for sustenance or true enjoyment. I don’t count calories or consider my weight in these estimations). I think this came from replacing the crutch of alcohol with another crutch for when I felt overwhelmed or experienced consistent low-level anxiety.
- Empowerment from saying no. There’s something so satisfying about being able to complete a challenge like this. Seeing that saying no to drinking in social situations is entirely possible, I know I will be more likely to abstain occasionally in the future, rather than considering alcohol a social necessity when others are drinking. Reminding myself that I have the choice to say no makes me feel empowered to do so when drinking wouldn’t add that much to an experience for me, or harm me slightly by affecting how I feel the next day.
These are the most noticeable and prominent changes from my Dry January. I’m really happy I decided to give it another try this year, and I think I may make this a yearly practice. Having this as a way to reinvigorate my commitment to my health was fantastic, and I highly encourgae anyone interested to give it a try!
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