Lauren Booker, alcohol consultant for Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind Dry January and author of Try Dry: The Official Guide to a Month off Booze (Square Peg, £12.99)
If you’re thinking of going dry at the beginning of the year, you won’t be alone. Last year, four million Brits quit alcohol in January.
You could even raise money for your favourite charity at the same time.
Quitting alcohol for a month can transform your life, as it gives you the chance to reassess your relationship with alcohol, says Booker. If you’ve ever drunk to ease social situations or to mask loneliness, job dissatisfaction or relationship issues, taking a break from alcohol gives you the chance to find more productive and long-term solutions.
1 Do some mental prep
Think of something you’ve achieved and are proud of. Ask yourself how you did it, what skills you used and how you overcame any obstacles you faced. Note down the ways you rose to the challenge and how can you use these skills now. A nice touch Booker suggests is to consider what message you’d like to give the ‘you’ who’s completed the Try Dry challenge. Write it on a card, give to a friend and ask them to post it to you in a month’s time. You’ll probably have forgotten what you wrote so it will be a lovely surprise at the end of the month.
2 Have a support team
If you’re not choosing January, pick a month relatively light on big events and start your challenge on the 1st of the month, or a Monday, as that makes it easier to monitor your progress. Download the free Dry January app to track units, money and calories saved, and put any alcohol well out of sight or ask a friend to be a drink-sitter for the month. Finally, build a support team around you – tell friends and family your plan, or set up a group of Dry January buddies to share the journey.
3 Deal with your triggers
Cravings are more about your triggers – stress, boredom, sadness, for example – than the booze itself, and they can be overcome. The average craving lasts just six minutes, so if you can distract yourself for that time, the craving will pass. Also, try resolving your triggers in other ways, self-soothing, working out, journalling, learning a new skill.
4 Learn from mistakes
Don’t let slip-ups derail your overall intention. Use the following cues to get yourself back on track.
What? What led to the slip-up? What did you drink? What were the consequences? Did you actively choose to drink?
So what? What have you learnt from the experience? What do you understand about the things that might trip you up in future?
Now what? What will you do differently next time?
QUIT DRINKING Photo Gallery
MAKE YOUR OWN MOCKTAIL
Forget margaritas; try a mock-a-rita. This elegant booze-free drink hits the spot when you feel like indulging. It’s not too sweet either.
X Ingredients 200ml coconut water 50ml lime juice 1 tbsp agave syrup (or honey)
Juice of half an orange Lime and salt for glass rim Strip of orange zest Crushed ice
Shake some salt onto a small plate. Squeeze lime round the rim of a margarita glass and then dip into the salt. Mix the other ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into the glass. Garnish with orange zest.
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