Dry January Is Nearly Over – What Should You Do Next?

Dry January Is Nearly Over – What Should You Do Next?

How has your Dry January gone?
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Maybe you’re patting yourself on the back for an angelic, alcohol-free month… but you’re not sure what your next steps should be. Or maybe you’re frustrated because you didn’t quite make it… and now you’re struggling to get back on track.

Whether Dry January has been a good or bad experience for you, the most important thing is what you do next.

And that’s exactly what today’s blog post is all about…

 

Scenario 1: I’ve had an amazing alcohol-free January! I want to continue with sobriety, but I’m not ready to quit forever yet. What should I do next?

If this is you, then many congratulations on your alcohol-free month! This is something to be really proud of. Here’s what I’d suggest:

 

Write down how you’re feeling

This is a brilliant time to take stock of the past few weeks. How has alcohol-free living affected your health, happiness, finances, free time, sleep and general self-esteem? Get this stuff out of your head and onto paper. Writing it all down will help you to see things more clearly, plus it will be great to look back on! The improvements will keep on coming 🙂  

Pick another short term goal

There is something VERY intimidating about the idea of quitting ’forever’. It’s totally fine not to be ready for that – most people aren’t! You can avoid the overwhelm by simply committing to another short term, achievable goal. If you’ve already got a month under your belt, I’d suggest working towards two months or 100 days.

Get prepared

Now’s a good time to think about what you’ll say if people ask why you’re still not drinking. (It’s actually none of their business, but if you tend to get a bit tongue-tied, you might want to think up some responses in advance – I suggested a few here.) This is also a good opportunity to stock up on books and podcasts about sobriety. Having plenty of inspiring resources close at hand will help keep your momentum going.

Celebrate!

Use the money you’re saving on alcohol to buy a lovely sober treat. Splurge on yourself – you deserve it!  

 

Scenario 2: I’ve made it through Dry January, but it’s been a tough month. I’ve been longing for February 1st to roll around – but now I’m wondering if I’ll undo all my hard work by going back to drinking so soon?

Congratulations on making it through the month! You will have learnt so much from these past few weeks. It’s completely up to you what you do next, but I’d suggest following these steps first:

 

Review

It’s important to reflect on your alcohol-free experiences. Follow the process I outlined in the section above and get your thoughts down on paper. What have been the benefits of stopping drinking? What did you like and not like? Get clear on this.

Double check: did you actually do the work?

In order to stop drinking and feel good about it, you do need to work on your mindset and challenge some of your core beliefs. Otherwise, sobriety is always going to be a willpower battle, where you feel as if you’re missing out all the time, and that’s not fun.

When I coach women to stop drinking, we spend a LOT of time getting clear on the myths, illusions and romanticisation that surrounds this boozy world we live in. It’s so important to do this. Give yourself the chance to do this work before you decide that sobriety isn’t for you.

Know what you’re getting back into bed with

If you decide to go back to drinking, that’s ok – but you do need to know what you’re going back to. After a break, your tolerance to alcohol will be low, so you’ll notice the effects quickly. That can make you feel as if you’ve ‘reset’ your relationship with alcohol, or you’re somehow ‘controlling’ it better. You’re not.

If alcohol is something you’ve pined for over the past month, it won’t take long before you’re back to old habits. If that’s something you’re cool with, then go for it.

Remember that stop-starting can be part of the journey

Right now, I’m in the middle of teaching the January session of my stop drinking course, Getting Unstuck. Some of the women in my class took part in Sober October last year. They quit drinking for a whole month… but decided to go back to booze, thinking it’d be different this time. (It wasn’t.)

Experiences like that can be tough to deal with, but when you take a step back – and look at the bigger picture – you can see that it was all part of their sober journey.

Whilst I’m not encouraging you to drink(!) what I am saying is that often, the journey to alcohol-free living includes some twists and turns. You have some figuring out to do. And all your experiences, good and bad, will help inform what you decide to do in the long term.

 

Scenario 3: I tried to do Dry January but I crashed and burned. I’m struggling to motivate myself to give this another try.



Keep things in perspective

I am sending you a big virtual hug right now, because I know how tough it is when you “fail” during Dry January. I went through this exact same thing in January 2013. I lasted about a week before falling off the wagon and drinking through the rest of the month. (And February. And March.)

The important thing to note here is that in April 2013, I tried again – properly this time – and I ended up stopping for good. I’ll be five years sober on the 6th April this year! My point is, you can be a Dry January ‘drop out’ and still turn things around.

Learn from your mistakes

I wrote a blog post here all about getting back on track after you’ve been drinking. As painful as it is, you do need to spend some time analysing what happened – that’s how you stop it happening again.

Remember – the firmer your decision, the easier this will be

If you go into a break from booze thinking “Ok, I’m going to try and be good” then you will probably end up drinking. You have to go all in – no ifs, no buts, no “I’ll wait and see how I feel”. The decision fatigue from constantly bargaining with yourself is exhausting and nearly always ends in disaster. Instead, make one, firm promise: no matter what, you are NOT going to drink.

Get support

If you’re struggling to figure this all out on your own – and you need some motivation – then look for a community to hold you accountable and help you out. My students always rave about the benefits of being surrounded by people who really ‘get’ them. (You can find out more about my coaching programme here.) Knowing that you’re not alone makes a big, big difference.

 

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27 Comments

  1. What a great article!

    Scenario 3: Remember – the firmer your decision, the easier this will be.

    This is what really changed the game for me personally when I was quitting. I would have a lot of start-stops and each time I started again I would say to myself that I wasn’t going to drink but in my mind I still had visions of me in future with a bottle in my hand.

    The day I said that I was NEVER drinking again was the day my real journey started.

    Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Many congratulations on your sobriety Bill!

      Reply
    • Hi Kate. I made it through dry January and I’ve been sober for 28 days. I quit because I didn’t feel like drinking anymore. I wanted my health back, as I felt I was losing vitamins, sleep, missing opportunities to engage in healthier pursuits. I feel better, less depressed, healthier. I’ve had the help of this blog, a no alcohol day counter app on my phone and I finished reading a book called Smashed by Koren Zcailkas and how I’m going to read Drinking to Distraction by Jenna Holland. I may choose to drink again. But for now I think that 60 days will let me know if there has been a big change in my health and moods. So far, so good and I have no desire to drink. I’d rather taste and enjoy my food, read to fall asleep, and wake up hangover free!

      Reply
  2. I have absolutely loved dry January! Sure there have been a few times that I’ve had cravings but overall it’s been great! So much has changed for the better…sleep, skin, anxiety, & self esteem to name a few. I have to admit though that recently I’ve had some thoughts about trying moderation again. That scares me! I’ve made a new goal to get through February dry as well. I’d really love be for his to be a forever thing but it is scary to think in those terms.

    Reply
    • I’m the same, I’ve had a great dry January and not missed it at all however the thought of never again having a drink is very overwhelming

      Reply
    • The thought of changing any habit ‘forever’ is pretty overwhelming – but I think shorter term goals can work really well. Enjoy your alcohol-free February!

      Reply
    • I am right where you are Tracy. Well said!

      Reply
  3. Great article! I graduated from your October 17 sober school course Kate and apart from 3 planned glasses of wine(a controlled experiment!) I’m still AF and would not wish to go back to alcohol. Thank you SO much for all your inspiration! Xx

    Reply
    • Good to hear from you Jackie – I’m glad you’re doing so well! 🙂

      Reply
  4. I’m a graduate of your October 2017 class, and while I worked hard, I didn’t make it all the way through alcohol free. I learned a lot and was better than before the class, but I knew I had to live alcohol free. I am doing Dry January, going back over all the lessons, and creating more tools. My mindset has changed and I don’t want to go back to drinking poison. I feel like a heavy, wet wool blanket has been lifted off me and I’m feeling happiness again, I feel light-hearted and happy. I can never see myself going back to drinking. I know that I’ll keep working with my toolbox, but it has become so much easier. Thank you so much Kate!! I have my life back!

    Reply
    • That’s wonderful to hear – it sounds as if everything is coming together for you Donna! I’m really pleased for you 🙂

      Reply
  5. Thanks to you Kate I’ve been dry since July! It’s an amazing feeling to see all the “dry January” stuff go by and know I’ve got this under control. 🙂

    Reply
    • That’s brilliant Linda – well done! Alcohol-free living is the best, right? 🙂

      Reply
  6. Hi Kate! Thanks for this latest e-mail, l thought you’d be too busy with the 6 week course to post anything! Am so delighted to tell you that I am doing so well, still on track for my 100 days which I started on 1st Jan. Now I am into it, I’m not missing drinking at all and I used to drink EVERY night!!! Can’t believe I am doing this and feel so optimistic for the future. I had flu for first 2 weeks of Jan so that helped get going as I felt so lousy and now I am better I am starting to feel the benefits ie. bright eyed and bushy tailed every morning and I love waking up feeling exactly the same as when I went to bed…Bliss!!!! Thank you so much for inspiring me, watching those videos between Xmas and new year really got me thinking and I owe my dry jan to you and fingers crossed I will achieve my 100 day goal and maybe even beyond all the best Polly x

    Reply
    • Fantastic – that’s so good to hear Polly! Many congratulations on all you’ve achieved so far and I’m glad you’re feeling the benefits of an alcohol-free lifestyle. 100 days here you come! 🙂

      Reply
  7. I have loved dry January!!! Totally impressed with myself and blown away by how much it has given me!!
    I am definitely going for another 2 weeks then will see how I feel from there.
    There has not been 1 negative
    Part of the whole process for me

    Reply
  8. I read your email this morning about Dry January and it was just the inspiration I needed. It has been a great experience this time and like others, I have tried to give up alcohol on many different occasions with different levels of success and failure. I really like your suggestions about the next steps from here. I do a fair amount of running so I am going to to make 100 days my next goal. Thanks Kate 🙂

    Reply
  9. I have made it through January without alcohol and really quite amazed with myself! This month i have a friend coming to stay. We always have a glass of wine or 2 in the evening together and I’m not sure whether to have a glass or not. Also i have avoided social situations where there will be alcohol, like going to the pub for a meal and have declined an offer to catch up with friends as they would all be drinking.On the plus side, people have complemented me on my skin and my figure! I haven’t lost any weight but they say my shape has changed?( Not sure how that happened!)My mind is a lot clearer and i have more active, especially in the evening when instead of having a glass or 2 of wine I’m drinking sparkling water and tea.( Not in the same glass.Haha)Thanks so much for your advice Kate. You have started me re-evaluating my life since changing my relationship with alcohol!

    Reply
  10. I had a mixed bag for January, started off really well then celebrated a great triathlon result at the end of week 1 and found myself in the vortex again for 2 weeks but finished on a high and am currently 9 days sober and feeling unbeatable (plus another triathlon under the belt and no boozy celebration!). My mindset at the moment is to get through February without a drink as 91 days seems a lot…

    Reply
  11. Hey Kate

    More great work from you. You helped me so much in those early months. Am into month 10 now and I never thought I could. was only going to do one month. I never want to go back to those wine fuelled evenings and anxies at 2am. This is far btr without the brain bending liquid. Every month it’s easier. I LOVE this and me so much more. Now I know the end result of *just one* is just not worth it. My precious peace of mind and the mornings, joy! I wish this for everyone xox

    Reply
  12. Hi Kate again! I’ve gone the whole of Jan entirely sober and it has made me feel brilliant! Sleeping well, relationships all on track, on top of my work and skin is clear – and no horrible hangover anxiety. I am definitely planning for Dry Feb and sober living entirely xxx

    Reply
    • That’s great, congratulations Caroline! Bring on February

      Reply
  13. I have made it through January alcohol-free, and I didn’t drink most of December. This past month I have almost stopped thinking about it, except for a few Friday nights. There is something about Friday night that really makes me crave wine. But I haven’t given in, and I don’t plan to. I’ve set a 100 days goal, and who knows, maybe it’ll be forever. I do know that the few times I tried to have just a glass or two in December, I ended up drinking more than planned, and I don’t see that changing, so easier to abstain.

    Reply
  14. January has been amazing, I echo lots of people’s comments on how great it feels and it’s really life changing :0) Does anyone else find they are feeling hungry more often? I could eat like a horse! (but at least not putting on weight just yet…)

    Reply
  15. Good evening Kate.

    Thank u for my Wine O Clock kit… just finished reading it.
    WOW!!!
    It had me from the very 1st line … It could have been my story written .
    It would be nasty of me to say , I’m glad there are other women like me but what I really mean is I am glad to know I am not alone .
    Yes I drank to numb the pain of my recent divorce but then again I drank during my marriage too … to numb the feeling of not being good enough and kill the worry that he might leave me one day .
    It happened , he left and guess what I’m still standing .
    Yes I used the alcohol to cope for the months after moving house with my 2 kids, to cope with the rush hour to pretend to be happy in front of the kids and basically just to not feel or listen to my minds negative talk.
    I carried on like this for close to a year. “Enjoying ” my newly created not quite chosen life … But all along in the back of my mind I knew I was going down slippery slope that could end sadly. I never drove under the influence if I had the kids , I wouldn’t drink if I knew I had to fetch them from practice but I would make up for it when I go home after fetching them.
    The memory loss , forgotten conversation or promises , hangovers and one tripping over the dog incident all began to eat at my soul I used to drive to work after dropping the kids crying and promising myself I wouldn’t drink tonight … by 5 o clock that evening I would be in a bitter battle with myself and my craving. Craving won all times. On 1st Sept last year I went cold Turkey and quit smoking cigarettes because my 11 year.old son begged me because it was bad for my health and it was the reason I no longer ran.
    In December holidays I drank and partied but still had not touched a cigarette since 31 Aug. I wondered if I could give that up why would alcohol be any different … But I knew from past experiences that my willpower wasn’t very strong or that I just didn’t try hard enough.
    So bring on 2018 .
    28 December partied all day and half the evening , fell asleep on the couch and woke up the next day embarrassed , hungover and angry … angry at myself and at alcohol something I used to enjoy but it now caused me all these negative sad hurtful feelings.
    I decided I would try again …. 1 Jan 2018 – No more alcohol, I doubted myself even before I tried so I convinced myself to just do it during the week and I could drink weekends. When I told people around me they didn’t believe me , they thought I couldn’t do it.
    Week one was extra hard as it was still holiday season and still many socials to attend … some of my family (drinkers) were not very supportive making comments abt how boring and miserable I was when I didn’t drink. That took me right back to how my ex use to say I was boring and he wanted his old party wife back .
    And week 1 done so weekend I was supposed to be having a drink but I chose to hide out at home alone … kids were at their dad’s , I slept and slept and was still tired , slept some more ,ate ice cream watched movies and.prayed and pleaded to God for strength to keep going and stay faithfully sober.
    Today is 31 Jan 2018 and I am proud to say I haven’t had an alcoholic drink not a sip… I.did buy a 6 pack of alcohol free beer which I took too a party and which I will have now and again if needed in the evening.
    So 31 days sober , lots to deal with , feelings of miserableness , frustrated , tired , mind not being quiet …. But also loving.the fact that I can remember promises to my kids and conversation we had the night before.
    Able to comfortable volunteer to fetch my daughter from parties , taking them out to shopping malls out of town… all things I never did because I was more interested in drinking when I got home from work .

    I.think being sober is hard work because of emotions I need to face and work thru but I am extremely proud of the effort I am putting in… I have had the opportunity where I could have drank because I was all alone at home and no one would be none the wiser but I told myself give it and hour if i still craving for it then , then I could have it. I survived Jan alcohol free.

    Thanx very much for your blog and website , I will be following religiously.
    One little worry nagging me is … why it seemed so easy this time around … it’s almost as if I am waiting /expecting a uncontrolled craving to hit at anytime…. But I keep praying for strength and perseverance.

    God bless you & yr work in helping others.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 31 sober days Chanti! That’s excellent. Here’s to many more happy, healthy alcohol-free days ahead 🙂

      Reply
  16. After reading your book Kate (which I loved) decided to do dry January, I must say for something I was sooooo nervous about, I really only had 1 maybe 2 times that I really struggled, then it was only for a couple of minutes with that…..will I buy the bottle of wine???, but never did. I feel sooo much better, more energy, able to actually cope and face stresses without that old crutch of a glass of wine that turned into the bottle, really love the work you are doing as drinking is such a huge problem in Australia, that seems to go unnoticed and fobbed off as “All Aussies Drink”! Mentality. I have not had a drink since Boxing Day, and am amazed that I really don’t miss it !

    Reply

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