Dry January seems like a great opportunity to reflect on our relationship with drinking… but is it just another box to tick? Does the golden ticket to allow a night off make it all a superficial act for a month or can there be real insight? Here is one story from an SCPN friend that set us wondering about what makes us stop and think. Not worth the cheat day!

It is exactly one year ago I woke up in an Airbnb in Paris with an aching hangover and only one working hand. 

As usual, we gave dry January a go (except January 1st because, well – it’s still the holidays right?) with the mid-January trip to Paris as the cheat weekend to look forward to. It’s always the third weekend and Dry January always stops there. Holiday drinking always seems to start earlier and romantic scooter rides across the city are all the more enticing after a few red wines. Long story short, a great night out on the town turned into a long night in at the hospital. And no they did not accept my EHIC card. I was mortified my broken wrist had happened partially as a result of drinking.

A few days after this event I was heading to India on a work trip. Where I’d usually treat myself to a fancy wine at the airport. However, I discovered navigating Heathrow with one arm was a nightmare and getting to the gate my only goal. Spending time in India meant that there were not many opportunities to drink alcohol and, travelling alone I wasn’t fussed about looking for bars. I took the chance to slow down, visit the cultural sites I could (rather than visit all the sites too fast), reflect and start reading the 4 or 5 books I’d optimistically packed. 

As it happens, 2020 was the year the whole world slowed down. During the first lockdown, a virtual Hen party with a really drunk Hen I had never previously met made me think again about how and when I drink. I find lockdown life at home presents two sides of a coin for booze. On one side the bar is always open, the drinks are filled to the brim and your card is never declined. However on the other, you have the choice to drink or not drink, you are not in a place defined by the activity of drinking and the menu of non-drinking options can actually be vast! 

This year I haven’t had any miserable diet cokes or J20s in the pub but I’ve invested in my soft drinks menu – currently written on a post-it and stuck on the fridge for inspiration, and aim to continue to find time to slow down and to observe and understand my relationship with drinking beyond January. Both my hands are working fine and my January has also involved some online kettlebell classes!

My Recommendations for being less boozy:

  • Make soft drinks fancier by using crushed ice (a hand blender will do)
  • Try smoothies, put them in a nice glass – why not! Also good for fruit that’s gone a bit squishy.
  • Invest in a Soda Stream – life-changing!
  • Read the Outrun by Amy Liptrot (warning you may also get inspired to go wild swimming in all weathers)
  • Find a good newsletter/blog/Instagram feed on alcohol-free living. I subscribe to “Hello Sunday Morning” but there are many others including “The Rise Revolution” which is an online community for sober and sober curious women.