Compared to 3.9 million last year, an estimated 6.5 million of us – that’s a mega 1 in 5 – want to give up booze in 2021*, hinting that we don’t really like what alcohol did to us in 2020.
Aside from binging too much Netflix and snacking a little too frequently, 17% have admitted to drinking more than usual during the pandemic however, with pubs and restaurants closed, the biggest difference is likely to have been to our boozing habits at home in the last 12 months.
It may not surprise you to know that double the number of alcohol-drinkers in the UK plan to do Dry January this year.
That means that if you’re one of them, you are absolutely not alone.
So, does that make Dry January even harder than usual? As we face more time indoors during what has become a third national lockdown, our motivation to stay long-term sober, let alone seeing it through to the end of the month, may have already started to wane.
“A ‘f**k it’ mentality isn’t what we need right now,” says Emily Syphas, founder of the global membership club, Sober Social. “Given the news about lockdown 3.0, it would be easy to say to hell with it – but don’t!
“When I first decided to go sober back in 2018 I thought it would be impossible to do a few months let alone a few years but the deeper I got into it, the deeper I got to know my real self and the less I wanted to turn back around. At times it hasn’t been easy but it has been the biggest and best choice I have ever made for myself.”
As we immerse ourselves in a very different Dry January, we asked Emily for the tips that will help you stay teetotal throughout the month – and even into the future.
How can we overcome those difficult first few weeks or months?
It can be easy to do a short stint then go back to drinking because often it seems boring, or you may not think you have that much of an issue.
In the beginning, when we go alcohol-free we are re-learning ourselves, growing, facing difficult emotions, navigating friendships new and old, experiencing social situations without our social lubricant and it can all seem too much that you just want to pick up the bottle.
I want you to know this is a process and facing your new sober life can be an adjustment. I urge you to embrace the change, embrace the discomfort, and embrace becoming the new version of you because on the other side of this is a new beautiful fabulous sober life.
What’s the best way to avoid the temptation to drink?
Knowing my triggers was really important for me because it allowed me to take myself out of situations before getting to the point of wanting to drink.
Triggers come in many different forms such as emotions, places and people. Knowing what yours are will become invaluable when navigating long-term sobriety. For example, if I’m stressed after a difficult day at work, I know that I need to go home and read or have a bath rather than joining after-work drinks (in real life or on Zoom!) where I might feel triggered.
In the long-term, what is the key to staying motivated for sobriety?
Ask yourself: Why have you decided to do this? Because you want to be healthier, you hate waking up feeling anxious, you hate how alcohol makes you behave, you want to be there for your children, you don’t want to waste any more of your life hungover, you want to achieve more with your life?
Remembering your ‘why’ will really help when you have days that might not be as strong as others. It’s your sober anchor that should always be there when you think about sailing away from sobriety.
Will I ever be able to drink again?
One thing to remember is that you can always drink – which might seem like a bizarre thing for me to tell you, but ultimately, the choice is always yours.
It’s something that has really helped me because I know I choose to be a healthier, happier and more fulfilled person by not having a drink. I make this choice every day because it allows me to live my life to the fullest and be the best version of myself. If I wanted to have a drink I could, but I choose loving myself over my love for alcohol each day.