For many having a sober January comes at a time where they may have over-indulged at Christmas time. They may do it for reasons of giving both their liver and their wallet a break. A chance to recover. With more and more people taking a break from drinking in January in it makes it a more socially acceptable time of year not to drink Whatever your reasons there’s certain things that will help with maximising your chances for a successful month.
Note this article is not professional opinion. Please consult your Doctor before making any drastic changes.
First of all have it in your mind about why you are going sober for January. Take each day as it comes but have some plans for things which you may find difficult. This may include what to say to people when they ask why you are not drinking, but also what to do to help fill the void.
How To Have a Sober January
Next make yourself accountable by telling at least someone that you are taking part in a Sober January. However, the hardest part (of not drinking alcohol) for me is the social side. Therefore knowing what to say can be hard. Being armed with responses to their questions about why you are not drinking may help. Again this will all depend on whether you are confident in your reasons and if it is just for the short term.
Also you need to decide whether you are going to just stay in all of January and avoid the problem or not. But that can be a bit depressing and your friends may want to encourage you out.
Reasons You Tell People you are Having a Sober January
- If it is for money reasons then no doubt your friends will offer to pay for drinks. This is great but will they offer for the whole month? Drinking costs may not just include the actual drinks but also any extra food you consume and transport to get to and from venues. Can you just go out the once and drink and then not the rest of the month if they are offering the once. Maybe say you are going to be the driver to cut down on costs. Easiest thing is to set your goal and stick to it.
- For health reasons are probably the easiest. You can explain that you over did things at Christmas and it’s okay you will be back drinking again February. This could be to do with diet, giving your liver a break, dealing with your mental health/anxiety/depression or even your sleep pattern. Whether you start drinking again at the end of January is another matter, but you may feel stronger to tell them something else by then.
- To do more. Maybe you are training for a race, spending time with your family or just wanting to watch a sunset. Explain how you need to wake up fresh and so you are not drinking alcohol to allow for this.
Encourage others to join you. Say you would like their support with it. It is much easier to have a Sober January if you attempt it in a group.
Think about what you are going to do in the event of lapses and cravings. Will one drink signal the end or are you going to consider it a blip and move on. What will you tell yourself when you have cravings? Will you have something to distract the cravings? If you are out do you have an escape planned if things get too much?
Things to Do Other Than Drinking
Not drinking will give you back time. Whether that is just time you spent drinking, getting ready to go out drinking, or catching up with sleep/dealing with a hangover. How you fill this void may also depend on the reason you drink. You may think you know this, but once you stop it may become apparent that alcohol was actually covering up other things.
The point is you may want to use your new found time by doing things to help you heal. Or you may have drunk to celebrate or commiserate so you need to find a replacement. Here are some ideas:
- Be creative – paint, draw, sew, knit, cook/bake, learn a musical instrument, etc.
- Exercise – running, swimming, yoga, cycling, dancing, hiking, and so on.
- Being with others – so either with the above but how about Volunteering or turning to Religion. Or perhaps getting a Pet.
- Use your Brain – apart from reading, you could do puzzles or go back into Education.
- Relaxing – meditation, listening to music, watching TV, generally just making more “me time.”
- Enjoy family time, or time with friends. Think about what you can do together that does not involving drinking alcohol. Maybe it is just a coffee, or playing a board game, a spa break or going ice-skating – the possibilities are really endless.
- Reading. This doesn’t have to be just Quit Lit but you could learn a new skill, arm yourself with more knowledge, or just read to relax.
Arm yourself with some reading. You may only be doing it for the 31 days but other people’s experiences can really help. Of course they will also arm you with tools to help you get through. Another added advantage of reading Quit Lit though is that it will keep you somewhat occupied and take your mind off it.
- The Sober Diaries: How one woman stopped drinking and started living – Claire Pooley
- Quit Like a Womanby – Holly Whitaker
- Blackout: Remembering the Things that I Drank to Forget – Sarah Hepola
- The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray
- Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety – Sacha Z. Scoblic
- Lit: A Memoir – Mary Karr
- Drunk Mom A Memoir – Jowita Bydlowska
- The Sober Revolutionby – Lucy Rocca
- Glorious Rock Bottom – Bryony Gordon
- Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink-And How They Can Regain Control – Gabrielle Glaser
- The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking – Allen Carr
- The Accidental Soberista – Kate Gunn
- The Naked Mind – Annie Grace
- Alcohol Explained – William Porter
- Alcohol is Sh1T – Paul Churchill
- Sober in Seven – Andy Smith
- Alcohol Lied to Me – Craig Beck
- Drink? The New Science of Alcohol + Your Health – Professor David Nutt
- Kick the Drink Easily – Jason Vale
- Girl Walks out of A Br – Lisa F. Smith
- A Happier Hour – Rebecca Weller
- Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher
- Drinking A Love Story – Caroline Knapp
- We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life – Laura McKowen
- The Sober Lush – Amanda Eye Ward
Of course then there’s a whole wealth of Podcasts and Blog Posts!
Other Sober Posts:
- How Easy is it Not to Drink Alcohol
- BlogOn 2021 – The One Where I Ended up Sober in a Nightclub!
- Sober at Christmas
- Underage Drinking
I was previously gifted a couple of these books.