Dry January: Was It Worth It?

February 16, 2021 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: personal development.

Yes, I know, it’s the middle of February. It was the middle of January when my boss said he was partaking in “Dry January”. He’d decided to give up drinking for a month but had so many stop-starts that he eventually started on January 16th. He told me all about it and sounded like he needed some support and encouragement, so I joined in to see if betting a tenner would motivate him. And me!

Was Dry January worth it? Was it a success?

I’ve had no alcohol for over 29 days now. I say no alcohol, but I did stock up on alternative no/low alcohol beers and they ranged from 0% to 0.5% ABV, so there was the occasional beverage with a low amount of the “funny juice” in it. So yes, I managed to stay off ”the sauce” for the allotted 4 weeks.

Do I feel any better for it?

I’ve definitely felt mentally sharper. Not that I need boosting here, but there’s been extra energy that I don’t normally have when I’ve been drinking. Funnily enough, the first six weeks of 2021 have been challenging anyway, so whether a belated Dry January was the impetus for increased thinking or other circumstances were the triggers to necessity being the mother of invention, I’m unable to accurately say.

I will monitor how this goes over the next few months and see if there’s any relationship between circumstance and thought processes/action. However I do feel like there’s a heightened sense of awareness that needs to be maintained here anyway. Digital marketing is a fast-moving business, so I need to always stay on top of my game as an SEO consultant.

Are the sleep patterns any better?

Again, I’m not entirely sure here, I feel just as tired as when booze was on the agenda. Naps after work, and whenever I feel like it, are still very welcome. We’ve all got to recharge and if being mentally sharper means needing more mental energy, then recharging just went up a level itself to cater for that increase in mental capacity.

As for the quality of sleep, it may be better but, if so, not that much better, still getting by on just 6 hours of sleep. I may be waking up less in the middle of the night but the jury’s out on this one, it will reconvene when appropriate.

Does Dry January save money?

Beer with “the fun taken out of it” seems to be just as pricey as regular brews. I don’t know what the brewing process is for non-alcoholic beers, but it’s still a process that has to be respected and has an appropriate cost.

There were a surprising number of no/low alcohol beers available and I tried Bud Zero, an alcohol free Leffe blonde, and some highly recommended Clwb Tropica from Tiny Rebel Brewing Co. One alcohol free beer was absolutely bloody disgusting and I had only a second tentative swig before topping it down the plughole. I rated that one a 0.25 on the Untappd app, and it was supposedly an “award winning” ale.

Also, I didn’t see many alternatives for wine and spirits, so to keep that taste without the alcohol, was very limited. The gin & tonic from a well known distillery tasted nothing of gin, so that was a total disappointment; I might as well have brought a couple of bottles of own brand tonic and saved myself a few quid there.

Yes, I could have drunk tea, water, juice, whatever else instead, but I like the taste of beer, even if the key ingredient has been taken outside and shot.

I did find a renewed hankering for coffee though, and have acquired my first cafetière in 13 years, picking up on my old morning brewing rituals with ease.

Did I lose weight?

Not really. Christmas and New Year are always notorious for gluttony, so the usual Jan/Feb weight decline is inevitable. However, nothing has really just slid off. Maybe taking exercise more seriously means that I lost fat in one place and build muscle in another? I just don’t know TBH.

Overall, was Dry January worth it?

As a mental challenge, yes Dry Jan was worth it. As something different to do, yes, it was something totally new. I have half my week without alcohol anyway, so to test myself for this long was a good timescale. As a way to give the liver and the brain a change, why not? Giving your body a rest and time to recuperate is always a bonus.

It was so easy doing Dry January. I did want a beer or an alcoholic drink of sorts at times, but even when I was at my most challenged points, I didn’t partake and I wasn’t even remotely tempted. That was an unsurprising big win.

So, overall, yeah, why not? I’ll do it again but then I’m already into day 31 now, so I’ll have a drink with my good friends when I get to see them next as I’d appreciate both their company and a nice beer or wine.

If you’re thinking of doing Dry January, go ahead, it’s a positive experience. And it doesn’t have to be January either, you can give up alcohol at any time. Give it a go!

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