7 Pro Tips to Make Your Break from Booze a Success
Committing to staying sober for 30 consecutive days may seem like a lifetime - especially as your friends continue about their lives (or maybe worse, commit to Dry January and fall off the wagon a few days in!). Changing your own habits when others around you are not can be very challenging. However, I can promise - from personal experience - that completing a sober stretch will be extremely rewarding. I completed Dry January in 2017 (which inevitably led to a longer sober stretch for me personally) and have several pro tips to help you make your month without alcohol a huge success. Approaching this challenge with the right mentality and tools is the best way to set yourself up for success.
Change your Mentality. One big reason we fail when it’s time to change a behavior (think dieting, working out, etc.) is that we approach the change as a “have to” goal - also known as a punishment. Think about it, how excited are you to persevere through something you perceive as some sort of deprivation? I’ll answer for you: not likely. And, if you do make it through, you’re likely to reflect on your time in the same negative manner. So, take a moment to think about all of the reasons you want to commit to not drinking for a month. I’ll help you out:
Your body will experience the real effects of being free from the chemicals in booze. Alcohol stays in our system long after our physical and mental hangovers survive. Once your body has really begun to detox, you’ll see a tremendous difference in things like your mentality, your hair/skin, and the way you feel in general.
You won’t have those mental and physical hangovers. I don’t feel I need to go into much detail on why this is awesome.
You save money. I’ve provided another tip for ensuring you save money below, but let me promise you: you will.
You are more motivated and get more done. When you cut out some of the time you spent partying (I encourage you not to become a recluse, you should still attempt to be social) and nix the hangovers, you’ll find that you gain a good deal of free time.
Set Aside Time for Self-Care. Anytime you make a major change in your routine, it’s a good idea to set aside some time to adjust. This may mean sleeping more, exercising, or simply taking a hot bath at night. Whatever it is, no not deny yourself quality time to recuperate.
Visit the ATM. Always carry cash. I didn’t practice this when I first stopped drinking and I wish I would have. Having cash allows you to throw in for your portion of the tab in group settings or pay for a non-alcoholic beverage quickly.
Tell Your Friends. Let your crew know as quickly as possible that you’re not drinking...and ask for their support. Let your friends, family, co-workers, etc. know that you’re doing a 30-day break from alcohol. Let them know you still plan to come to be around (if you actually do), but won’t be drinking.
Have an Elevator Pitch. Practice telling people outside of your immediate circle that you’re not drinking. Point blank, you don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you aren’t drinking, but being prepared to discuss your sobriety with others will help you to respond confidently. Your “why” should be simple, “I’m taking a 30-day break from alcohol,” or “I’m doing Dry January, so I’m not drinking right now,” there’s no need to go into detail.
Get a Journal. It’s likely that you’ll have some unfamiliar emotions to process this month - I recommend you have place to write them down. My favorite place to pick up small journals is either TJMaxx or HomeGoods – they always have attractive options for under five dollars.
Grab an Accountability Tool. If you operate better with some sort of accountability program in place, download this FREE 30-Day Alcohol Detox program I created. It’s a reflective writing based course (so you’ll definitely need the journal I mentioned above) that guides you through changing the way you think about alcohol (personally, I find a shift in mentality to be one of the most important success factors in changing any habit). You can download a free copy here.
Think there’s a chance you’ll want to take your sober stretch out longer than 30 days? Here are some other steps I recommend:
Buy a Dry-Erase Calendar. Having a handwritten calendar is something I found extremely helpful and rewarding during my first month of being sober. Personally, I have this simple version by U Brands (also at Target). You’ll see several examples of how I use this on my blog and Instagram account. Each day, I write my “days sober” in the bottom corner. I also use the calendar to track other healthy habits. I’m only asking you to track your sobriety so don’t feel obligated to add in anything else unless it feels right. On the first of each month, take a photo of your calendar, clean the slate, and keep going.
Take a Before Photo. I wish I would have done this more purposefully when I gave up drinking! It’s amazing how much you could transform by simply cutting alcohol out of your lifestyle. I recommend taking a couple of “before” photos, or set aside a couple of recent photos of you and your friends. It might also be helpful to take a couple of photos of your face close (ugh, I know) and even weigh or measure yourself and record the data. I can’t guarantee that you’ll see tremendous results in just 30 days, but this data could also be useful if you decide to continue to stay sober for a longer period.
I wish you the best of luck on your Dry January challenge. If you’re looking for more sober inspiration, you can check out some of my other posts here.