Kate's Blog

5 Tips For Sticking With Your Dry January Goals

We’re two weeks into 2017 and you know what that means: it’s make or break time for your New Year’s resolutions. Statistically, this is the week when many of us will decide to give up on our goals.
We all know what it’s like.
At the start of the year – when you’re hungover and exhausted from too much boozing – Dry January seems like such a good idea. It’s the obvious thing to do. But once that initial enthusiasm fades and real life gets in the way, it’s all too easy to convince yourself that one drink won’t hurt…
Know what I mean?
If you promised yourself that you’d do Dry January but you’ve been finding it tough, then don’t worry – it’s never too late to start over. Here are 5 tips for sailing through the rest of this month:

Use your mistakes to your advantage.

Back in 2013, I tried to do Dry January. My friends joined in half-heartedly and ended up flying through the month alcohol-free. I took it really seriously but lasted less than a week. So trust me – if you’ve slipped up already, I know what that feels like. It’s doubly hard when everyone else seems to be doing fine.
The good news is that just a few months after that disastrous January I quit alcohol for good. (In April I’ll be four years alcohol-free!) So what changed between January and April 2013? Well, I realised that mistakes happen; we’re only human. So rather than beating myself up, I tried to learn from them instead.
Mistakes really are your opportunity to examine what’s working and what’s not – so you can come up with a better plan for next time. Get clear on what it is you’re looking for in alcohol; if stress is a trigger for you, what can you do to cope with that in a different way? Make a plan now.

Build in time for fun, relaxation and treats.

One of the lovely ladies on my stop drinking course had a lightbulb moment last week; she realised that in the past, the only time she’d given herself permission to chill-out was when she drank. No wonder her previous attempts at sobriety had been tough; she’d never allowed herself to have any other kind of relaxation time.
Are you guilty of doing the same? You have to build in some down time – this is particularly important if alcohol has always been your way of switching off at the end of the day. A Dry January should not be devoid of fun or pleasure. If you found time to drink then you can find time to treat yourself.  

Keep a journal.

Write down one good thing every day. Be really specific – what benefits have you noticed about not drinking? Are you saving money? If so, how much? Do you have more energy? What have you been doing with your free time? Alcohol is such a time thief!
When we’re working on something challenging and finding it tough, it’s easy to get sucked into a ‘poor me’, negative mindset. But when we focus on what we have to be grateful for, our lives feel more abundant. Feeling good about ourselves is an important part of staying sober.

Focus on one thing at a time.

If you made a long list of New Year’s resolutions, now is the time to prioritise just one or two of them. Sure, it’s good to eat healthily and get some exercise, but it’s also important that you don’t take on too much. Now is not the time to start a punishing diet or a killer gym routine! For now, just focus on getting your sobriety nailed. If you’re regularly drinking too much it’s hard to stick to a diet or workout plan anyway. 

Restock the fridge.

This sounds like such a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t do this. Get rid of any alcohol in your home (or hide it somewhere out of sight) and restock with a range of drinks you’re actually excited to try. Think: fresh fruit juices, sparkling water, grown up soft drinks, fancy cordials or mocktails. No one should have to make do with plain, lukewarm tap water. It’s so boring and miserable!
If you’re used to having an end-of-the-day drink, then you need to replace that with something that feels just as special. Ritual and routine are a big part of why we drink – now’s the time to create a sparkly, sober version.

Now I’d love to hear from you.

How’s your Dry January going? What tips and tricks are working for you?
Have a great week!

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


37 responses

  1. So far, so good with not drinking. My only thing is that I haven’t been social. Lots and lots of family time, but no friend time. I make up excuses as to why I can’t hang out. I have avoided being social so I just didn’t have to deal with trying to have fun without drinking. I’ve noticed I’ve been depressed these past few days and I feel pretty confident that it’s because I have been “in hiding”. Not sure how I’m gonna handle this moving forward but I’m guessing I need to initiate some “friend” time. I’ll keep you posted.

    1. I feel the exact same Ashely. I haven’t had much friend time. Plenty of family and boyfriend but it’s hard to feel comfortable or not feel jealous or feeling left out… hoping new friends or my other relationships don’t suffer too much.

  2. I am doing well and staying strong and sober. Not sure this is the correct way to do it but I have planned 40 days sober. So when I think about getting a drink, I remind myself that I have XX number of days until I allow myself that drink.
    I am hoping that when 40 days comes I will have a new relationship with alcohol and it won’t have quite the grip on me as before. I suppose I will see! If I fall back into my old ways I will maybe need to quit for good. But a life time of no alcohol sounds impossible. But 40 days sounds fine for some reason. I too have been avoiding my “drinking friends”. But have made sure to plan dinners, lunches, movie dates with my friends that don’t drink heavily or won’t ask why I am not drinking.
    I am not ready to tell anyone why I am not drinking as I am ashamed they will know the drinking had a grip on me. I am a strong successful woman and am ashamed to admit this weakness.

    1. I know what you mean. It’s so embarrassing to think that it has more control than I do. When I’m around my friends that drink I can easily be talked into it. I have gained about 20 pounds as well. Ugh!!! This is ridiculous! Good luck. Sounds like you have a good plan!

      1. Thanks for responding to my post! It is encouraging to meet others who relate! One thing that has helped me with not drinking has been to take classes at the gym in the evenings, during the times I might usually drink. I am enjoying meeting new social circles who are health conscious. I hope to spend more time with these folks and they will get to know me as a non-drinker and I won’t ever need to explain to them why I am not drinking on any given night.
        A goal of mine is get this under control enough that I am confident enough to be able to tell my friends that I used to drink with why I am not drinking and leave the problem in the past.

        1. Thank you, your message really helps me to understand I’m not alone in this. Sounds like your well into your progress, well done. I’m on day 18 whoop whoop. X

    2. Ditto, I’m in the same boat, I’m 17 days in, I’m not struggling but I’m counting the days till my abstinence is over. I am a strong professional woman who hides the dependent relationship I have alcohol which means I never get the chance to celebrate my abstinence success without ‘outing myself’ nor can I discuss how I’m feeling. I don’t socialise without alcohol as no one ( I think) realises I have a problem. My mother is an alcoholic in denial! Anyway, sorry to ramble well done to you, your story inspires me to continue. X

      1. Happy to hear I can inspire! And comforting to hear others, you feel what I feel. It is nice to not feel alone. This is the only place I have celebrated my sobriety. I am ashamed to celebrate it in my “real life.” But I sure do enjoy not having a hangover in weeks! I certainly think clearer and am less anxious.

        1. Yes, I agree with your comment about hangovers and clear thinking, that’s definitely one of the big pluses, and safe legal driving next day. Thank you so much for your reply .

  3. I did 3 months sober free before Xmas had a blip over Xmas but stopped drinking again on 30th December and so far doing good been keeping busy with my 4 cleaning jobs currently working 10 hours a day don’t have time to think of drinking miss my social life a bit but too tired to go out anyway planning on saving for a holiday.

  4. Love your weekly blog Kate, it always keeps me focused. I will be 4 years sober on Wednesday, never thought this was ever possible as I could bearly go 4 hours without a drink. For all those struggling, you CAN do this, just one day at a time. X

  5. Blessings to Kate for yoyr continued support even after the course
    Receiving your email today is just another reminder to stay strong & Never Give Up” xxx

  6. Thank you Kate. You always seem to pop up in my ‘inbox’ at just the right time! Really appreciate your continued support

  7. I haven’t gotten passed day 2! I hate myself after I drink. At night after I’ve gone to bed and woke up at in the middle of the night I promise myself I won’t drink. I’ve come up with dozens of reasons why and added more. I really want to release this from my daily routine!!!!

  8. I was doing great until early December when I got sick and started stressing over the upcoming holidays and fell back into my wine o’clock routine. I kept telling myself tomorrow’s the day and here I am this morning, January 17th, today is the day. Day 1

    1. Hi Kathy, I’m in that same place. Xmas holiday and time with my long-distance boyfriend, so wonderful to sit in his arms with a glass . . . . today is day one, – again. Strength to you and all in this boat.

  9. Well done to you all for being sober whether it’s day 1 or day 1001. You are not alone. Every single one of you who has commented will help me to stay sober today. Thank you. I have not drunk alcohol for 2 years as of yesterday. Last Christmas was ok- this Christmas was a struggle. I was surprised because I thought it would get easier each time. It just goes to show how deeply alcohol is embedded in my psyche. LB- if you see this please try reading Kick the Drink Easily by Jason Vale. It worked for me. But I do think I need to keep re reading it (as well as reading Kate’s posts!) to keep what is important at the forefront of my mind.

    1. Congrats on 2 years sober Sammy! You inspire me! Have you spent some time examining why this Christmas was more difficult for you? I find the more self reflective and self aware I am, the stronger I become.

      1. Thank you Rebecca, I will try and reflect as to why this Christmas was more difficult, a few things have changed in my life since last year and my resilience is definitely not what it was. At the moment I feel like a cartoon character with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other! Still, I have avoided drinking so that’s the main thing!

  10. Like you Kate, I have stopped drinking many times before, 3 months here, 5 months there, but lately it has been different. I have finally realized that drinking has absolute zero positive aspects for me. Like many of these other ladies, I see how much of a culture it is for me. I have been around alcohol since I had my first memories which has now moved into my personal friendship circle. In the past 3 weeks, I have been around alcohol at least 15 times and each time have avoided it 🙂 I have probably saved over a $75 dollars and deep down I feel more myself!
    I am so happy I heard you on Vibrant Happy Woman as it is so nice to see that other woman struggle in this area too! I am excited to keep up with your blog!

  11. After a horrible night of overindulging yet again, I am today starting a new Day 1. I managed to make it 12 days the last time, but weakened and fell off the wagon……please say a little prayer for me to keep going this time. Thank you……..

  12. 23 days today. I’m feeling very alone in this. Have been soaking up sober blogs and podcasts like a sponge, but now I’m a little overwhelmed. Listening to early episodes of “The Bubble Hour” and they advocate for joining some kind of recovery program, but I am so not ready for that. This is the first time I’ve reached out / talked / written about quitting. It does feel good to put it out in the world in some form. Thanks for listening.

    1. If you’re not ready for a recovery group, maybe try finding an organized walking group or take a class. Find something you can enjoy, that feels nurturing and relaxing to you:volunteer, knit, do yoga, take a meditation class. I find it very nurturing to take classes that help me relax.

      1. Funny you mention yoga, Nette. I usually work out every morning to a DVD in my home, but I’ve only tried the yoga part of the DVD once. I just finished trying it again, and it was very lovely. I feel relaxed, centered, all the cliches :). I guess it really does work.

        1. I do yoga once a week with two girlfriends. I find comfort in the yoga and pleasure in the company of my friends. It helps remind me that there are good things in my life, not just the hard things. Then I loop that back and remind myself the hard stuff will still be there if I drink,but most likely I’ll lose the good stuff. I don’t want to drink every night, and sit on my couch forgoing many other things I find joy in WHEN the alcohol’s not in control. I hope you’re hanging in there. I’ve told two good friends I have a problem with alcohol. They are two safe people icanfo lunch or dinner with and they will support my sobriety. I’ve started telling people that I’m not drinking because I feel tired, I’m trying to lose a little weight and it’s easy calories to cut out, or that I’m doing a little cleanse, etc. This allows me to go to dinner and be social without a big production about not drinking. That only works if you can resist drinking. My plan is to just eventually be able to say I quit drinking to get a little healthier and it felt so good I never took it up again. Just going one day at a time. I get up every morning and look at my skin which looks great again. I celebrate that I slept good and curse alcohol for all the lost sleep and lost hours laying on the couch marinated.

          1. I relate to everything you mentioned. I too plan on telling people that I just feel better without the alcohol and want to continue not drinking. It’s true too! My husband asked me if my dry January was over soon and I told him I might do another 30 days. Taking it 30 days at a time seems so much more manageable to me. I have one friend/family member that is on her Day 3 today, so that does make me feel less alone in this. My kids don’t have school today, so in the past I probably would have had too much wine last night, because, hey, I don’t have to get up early tomorrow, and had a hangover today. Mom on couch all day! Now, my son and I will spend a day together out of the house, doing something! That makes me feel so much better. That I’m actually living my life. Day 30 for me tomorrow; plan to spend it with my family, and maybe buy some expensive yoga pants

          2. you don’t have to answer me, but I hope you think about this question. What would happen if you told your husband you don’t want to drink anymore bcuz you feel healthier without it? I’m worried for you if your husband is tired of your not drinking. You’re really going to need to find a solid support system if it’s not him

          3. Well…I wouldn’t say my husband is tired of my not drinking. He just thought I was doing a “Dry January”. He doesn’t know how deep I’ve delved into the sober world. I did tell him I’m doing another 30 days and he’s of course totally on board with whatever I want to do. You’re right, I do need other support as well, which is why I decided to chime in by commenting. I’m looking, but slowly, to find what other support might fit for me. 30 days today!!

          4. That’s awesome! I’m only 14 days completely dry, but I feel like I’m over the biggest hump. I tried cutting back to just weekends, so since Christmas I haven’t drank EVERY night, but in my heart I knew I wanted to and that if I didn’t go completely dry I would not be able to control the alcohol. My husband knows. He is the one who voiced concern over my drinking. I woke up this morning and felt great, my skin looks healthy, I have energy…..these are all things I lose when I drink.

  13. I need to remember these things. I was sober for 4 months, and I thought I could handle a couple drinks around the Christmas/New Years holidays cause I was doing so well…but nope. I’m back to cravings and drinking at night.
    I could quit before, I know I can quit it again. And now I know I can’t control myself once I allow alcohol back into my life. This time I’m not going to miss it, because I don’t want to have to quit a third time lol!

    1. Good Luck Naomi!Keep coming back to this website, read books and listen to podcasts like the bubble hour. All these things have been helping me. Today I’m going to start exercising.

  14. I agree with a lot of the comments on feeling left out with friends and being very to myself. Avoiding being surrounded by people who drink a lot or smoke or just do things that include socializing around bars is just not cutting it for me. Last Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years was tough. All holidays that I’ve been drinking since I was 15 years old. Im 24 now still young and to be sober is more challenging then anything. Honestly to meet anybody around my age getting sober is rare. Its been hard to relate to anyone. I love my friends, but I just can’t be around them anymore. My girlfriend has been slowly adapting to my life, and I know its hard for her because I don’t want her to feel obligated to quit drinking if its not a problem for her. The Gym has saved my life, and working on Deejaying has really kept me busy. 136 days sober today, for all of you going through hard times of sobriety, just take it 1 day at a time and get healthy and make it your new addiction.
    FYI Im a Bartender at House of Blues Music Venue, and Server at a night club. Im tested everyday of my sobriety.

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