Dry January is one of those New Year resolutions that always seems to get broken.
Even with the best of intentions to not touch a single drop, somewhere, somehow, we succumb to having a drink.
As Bethan Higson, founder of non-alcoholic Mother Root Beverages, puts it: “Every January, people vow to become better versions of themselves – whether it be getting fit or eschewing alcohol, in an effort to live a more healthy, alcohol-free life.”
But what can we do to help ensure success if our previous attempts at being booze-free have failed?
1. Try to cope with what life throws at you without a tipple
“One of the main reasons people struggle to make it to the end of January without alcohol, is a lack of emotional coping skills required to manage what sobriety may bring up for them,” explains Faure Green.
“It can feel incredibly uncomfortable when we’re used to abating feelings of, say, anxiety, with alcohol. [Try to] find other methods for calming the nervous system: breathing techniques, kitchen dance parties, talking therapies, getting out in nature for a walk, yoga and meditation. Clichéd perhaps, but they are clinically proven to be very effective.”
2. Think about the money you are saving
“Those undertaking Dry January often set sights on a big boozy blow-out on February 1st, and this only feeds into our ‘feast or famine’, mentality,” says Faure Green.
“Instead, consider how much you’re saving over the month by not drinking and make a list of wonderful things that you can do with that spare cash. Choose what will drive you the most. For some, it helps to put a picture of that goal on the fridge to reinforce it with a regular reminder, and drive success.”
3. Increase your GABA
“One of the mechanisms that makes alcohol so calming after a stressful day is that it seeks out our GABA receptors and gives them a great big hug.
“GABA is our calming neurotransmitter, and when we’re producing it in abundance, we can feel relaxed,” explains Faure Green.
“So, rather than artificially stimulating those receptors with booze, eat foods that increase circulating GABA… spinach, broccoli, garlic, fish, potatoes and bananas are good sources of B6, a vitamin that’s a vital co-factor in its production.
“Green tea also contains an amino acid called L-theanine which is thought to stimulate GABA creation – the ultimate calming cup of tea.”
4. Do not do it alone
“Do Dry January with a friend for moral support and stock your cupboards with great non-alcoholic alternatives, and you’ll still be able to enjoy that end of the day cocktail or aperitif,” suggests Craig Hutchison, co-founder of Maria & Craig’s non-alcoholic distilled botanical spirit.
5. Keep a diary of how much better you are feeling
“Are you sleeping better? Have you lost weight? The average alcoholic cocktail has between 300-400 calories, so keep track and ensure you’re aware of the benefits – it can do wonders for your will power,” says Hutchison.
6. Go public with your challenge
“The more people who are aware you’re taking January off alcohol, the more encouragement from your peers,” says Hutchison.
“Follow some of your favourite non-alcoholic brands on Instagram. They will, for sure, keep you motivated throughout the month.”
7. Do not worry if you weaken
“If you slip once or twice, don’t beat yourself up and don’t just give up. You can start again the next day – it’s all about balance,” says Simone Caporale, award-winning international bartender and ambassador for ZEO non-alcoholic spirit.
“And you never know, the way you’ll feel while you’re taking a break from drinking, might actually push you to keep going.”