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What I Learned During Dry January

Like clockwork, January 1 has come and gone. Everything feels fresh and new now that 2018 is in the rear-view mirror, one of my resolutions, this year was to feel better about my health.

Since I’m a millennial (and to kick-start my resolution) I decided to try a trendy diet plan: Dry January as part of Whole 30. This month has been an interesting look at my relationship with alcohol and how I view myself. Here are some tips I learned during Dry January.

You’re not alone

At brunch, I had a waiter comment on my alcohol-free outing. I mentioned I was doing Dry January and he said he’d come across a lot of people who were also participating. It was nice knowing I wasn’t an outlier.

My waiter mentioned he did “Sober October” because it rhymed, and he thought it was more fun to tell people. To each their own!

I stopped equating relaxation and alcohol 

Even without my favorite cocktail, I had an easy time unwinding with Netflix and a cup of fruit juice. I didn’t feel bad about wanting another one after I finished my first glass and I enjoyed how I felt in the morning. I think your go-to drink is a great way to unwind, but mocktails are just as delicious, gave me a similar relaxed feeling and made me feel ready for the next morning. (Pro Tip: if you still miss wine, put your fruit juice in a wine glass. Your friends might laugh, but it makes you feel like you’re still participating).

Alcohol is expensive 

This feels like a “d’oh” statement but I’ve saved so much money this month. Not just on going out to bars, but the alcohol I buy for my home. I was still able to hang out with friends at bars, I just got a water or juice while others chose to drink. If you’re doing it just for yourself and don’t want others involved, try writing about your day and experience in a journal so you can log how you felt each day.

Have a friend participate with you 

I liked having someone to text at the end of the night and tell that I held up my end of the bargain. It might not be for everyone, but I like being held accountable.

Being Designated Driver a few times in January helps your friends 

If you’re not drinking anyway, why not volunteer to be the designated driver? It’s a nice way to save your friends money on an Uber/cab/Lyft and it’ll make you feel good knowing you’ve got your friend’s back to get them home safely.

Finding non-alcohol related activities is good long-term

I invited friends to go hiking, tried a rock climbing gym and spent a lot of time decorating my apartment. Try something new (or an old hobby that’s fallen off) instead of just going to a bar. It feels productive. Plus, it’s good for you long-term as you discover activities you’ll want to hold on to after the month is over!

The first week is the hardest

It’s mostly just changing your routine and being more mindful about what you’re drinking.

I completed Dry January/Whole 30 and on February 1, I had a whiskey sour and cheeseburger. Even though Dry January is over, you can still take a month off from drinking for your health (or bank account). In the spirit of my brunch waiter, here are some things you can call your month of not drinking: Frugal February, Mocktail March, Alcohol-free April, Dry July, Sober October, No drink November or Drink free December.

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