Let me ask you a serious question. What’s the longest you’ve gone without one single sip of alcohol in your adult life? For me, I honestly couldn’t remember up until this past January. We spent the holidays last year like any other, drinking/eating a lot, and doing fun stuff with people we love. What was different for us this time, however, was that after all was said and done, we decided to go cold turkey on the drinking for the entire month of January. It seemed like such a great way to start the new year fresh and on a positive note, and also didn’t seem that hard to do, at least in the very beginning. Here’s what I learned during 31 days of no drinking:
- Your skin looks SO much better with no alcohol in your system. I don’t necessarily break out more when I drink, but my “fine lines” are definitely more visible after a glass of wine or two. I know you’re supposed to drink lots of water while consuming alcohol, to offset the effects of dehydration, but honestly who is on top of that 100% of the time? Not me. Because of this, I REALLY enjoyed waking up to a youthful, glowing complexion almost every morning in January. Will not be taking that for granted!
- Your body just feels better when you’re not drinking. I used to wake up slightly hungover even just from having two glasses of wine, but when you’re not drinking you wake up feeling great pretty much every day. Which is freaking amazing. Alcohol also messes with your REM cycle when you sleep, so no alcohol means you get better rest overall.
- Alcohol is actually a carcinogen, meaning it has the ability to affect cell production and cause cancer in the body. I’m usually all about clean eating and avoiding foods/products that can cause harm, so why do I not associate alcohol with this group? Now, I’m not saying we should live in fear and avoid everything just to hopefully live to 150 (cause who wants to live to 150??), but I do think it’s smart to be mindful of what alcohol actually is, so you can remember to consume in moderation and treat your body with respect. Alcohol actually speeds up the aging process, and, while I am certainly not trying to live to 150, I also am not trying to speed things up either.
- I still have anxiety when I don’t drink. For the longest time I have blamed anxious feelings/thoughts on alcohol. Even if I had one glass of wine the night before, if I felt off at all the next day, I’d immediately blame it on the alcohol. Which, could have had something to do with it, sure. But every single time? Probably not. This was an easy scapegoat so that I could carry on throughout my day without actually checking in to see where the anxiety was stemming from. Without alcohol, I had to develop a new practice. Alcohol couldn’t be the reason anymore, so I started journaling more, reading more and generally just doing more great stuff for my mind and body. Which was an amazing perk, and actually led to less anxiety overall. Win!
- Not drinking makes you WAY more productive. Now, I am not an advocate of working more than what you personally feel allows for a balanced, healthy lifestyle, but I will say that not drinking helps you go longer than you otherwise might- like the cute little Energizer bunny. Some days, when I’m done with work, I’ll pour a glass of wine, read an article and relax. And while I love this time to myself, the problem ends up being that I suddenly have zero motivation to get anything else done afterwards. Folding the laundry? Hell no. Doing the dishes? Absolutely not. Doing anything other than getting some chips and watching 17 episodes of RHOBH? Not happening. So, if you’re trying to keep the productivity mode on longer throughout the day, maybe postpone the wine, or skip a drink altogether.
Many lessons learned on this road we (Dan and I) just ventured down, and I am happy to report that I am so glad we did it. Sure, it was a bit unsettling when in the beginning my first thought every Sunday was to go to brunch and get a bloody mary. And yes, it was much more difficult towards the end and I’m not going to try to convince you that I didn’t almost cave a time or two. But, overall, this experience is something I would recommend to anyone who feels like they’re in a bit of a life funk, and needs to do something drastic to get out of it. Not drinking for 31 days gave my body and mind the reset it needed, helped me stay motivated and inspired to do things I love and that fill my soul, and made me a better human overall. Alcohol, as nice as it can be, can also be an agent for numbing and not being fully present in your life. We only have so much time, so we don’t want to waste too much of it buzzing on the couch staring at a TV screen. There’s so much knowledge to learn and experiences to have! Spend 31 days 100% sober with yourself, and let me know how much more you love and appreciate the “new” you at the very end.
Cheers! Oh wait, too soon?
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7 thoughts on “What I Learned During Dry January”
Great post, Sarah! To answer your first question, it has been 8 years, 1 month and 2 days since my last drink (and counting!!). Some really interesting benefits; some I hadn’t thought of. I’d like to add one more. You spend a lot less money!! Has Dry January made any difference in your behavior in February?
Thank you Joann!! 😊 Congrats on such an incredible accomplishment- something to be extremely proud of. And yes that’s a really big benefit I didn’t think to add! You spend less money on groceries, at restaurants, and on unnecessary purchases you might be convinced to make if not clear minded 🙈 Dry January has definitely made a difference in my behavior this month- having a drink sounds less appealing, and just one is plenty now that my tolerance is lower. With all those benefits in mind, it makes even that one drink not feel as worth it!
Sarah! I absolutely love this. I have been doing dry weeks and only treating myself on the weekends, it’s started to change my motivation and habits (especially my eating ones). Way to go!
Aw thank you Kyla!! That is a great idea! Think I’ll implement that one as well. I’m so glad you’ve seen positive changes since doing so! Thank you for sharing and for your support! 😊
I highly recommend pregnancy for your next dry period..it is working great for me lol
Hahahaha my post about it will be called “what I learned during my dry pregnancy”