Dry January: What I've learnt
The day is the 24th of December 2017 and I'm laying on my back in a Mexico hotel room. Christmas Eve is meant to be a time of excitement and anticipation. Instead, I was suffering with a tequila induced hangover that was worse than death. To put it in perspective, I couldn't even close my eyes or look at my phone without feeling nauseas. As my family are out by the pool and thinking about which Christmas film to watch tonight (Elf won FYI). All I can think to myself is what the hell am I doing with my life?
I'm 21 years old and have been able to drink legally in the UK for 3 years. I've never been a wild partier, but alcohol has never agreed with me. From upset stomachs and bloating to headaches and body cramps. Even having some wine with a meal isn't enjoyable anymore because the sulphites make me sneeze! In all honesty I don't really like drinking and haven't for a while. Back when I felt more socially anxious it became a crutch for conversation. But, with all the progress I've made with my mental health now - why have I kept alcohol in the picture?
I'm not about ultimatums anymore because that can lead to perfectionist tendencies. By contrast, I challenged myself to Dry January to see if I could notice a difference. No more glasses of red with a meal, catching up with friends over a Rekorderlig or slugging back g&ts before going out. Could I still have fun without drinking?
Five benefits I've noticed from drinking less (if not ever):
1) Anxiety levels
It's true that when you're drinking your inhibitions are reduced and you often feel less anxious. The big problem I started notice was how I'd feel the next day. It's no exaggeration to say I felt paranoid. My whole life was put on hold, like being physically unable to drag myself to lectures and lashing out at friends/family. All my nastiest mental health demons came out to play after a big night out on the town. Take a moment just to reflect if this is true for you too - at the very least being conscious it's just the hangover can be reassuring!
Praise to the gods, I've always had a good skin. Never had any acne problems when I was younger and I only really started wearing foundation when I turned 19. But, what had happened over several years of drinking plus the late nights was my skin was starting to freak out. The next day I would not only feel tired, but I looked tired. More pimples, dry flakey skin and my makeup would sit on my face. This makes sense because alcohol dehydrates you and when your body is dehydrated the first place to drain moisture is your skin. Little things I've noticed since giving up the old booze are that my foundation sits better on my face/ I look better without makeup and the lines under my eyes have reduced. Miracle!
For many years I'd noticed a trend among celebrities - a fair few were sober. At first I put this down to the drinking culture in America and how much more common this was across the pond. However, since giving up alcohol I've noticed a pattern. Most major diets do not allow for alcohol. By switching from booze to water clients see results even faster. No wonder celebs like Blake Lively and J Lo have stopped drinking - it's to maintain their enviable physique. Now I've not developed J Lo abs since dry January, but I am noticing I can maintain my weight a lot easier. Also, the lack of late night drunk food definitely helps! RIP Paddy's.
If you've spent time with me when I'm drinking you'll probably have noticed I'm a chatty drunk. From befriending complete strangers to oversharing. I'd inevitably wake up the next day with more regrets than the headache. Not to mention, Never Have I Ever is a lot more tame. Boring maybe, but embarrassed I'm not.
5) Hot chocolates
My good friend Anna rarely drinks and when we'd go to bars together she'd always order hot chocolates. I love hot chocs - who doesn't? So, when I decided to cut out the booze I started ordering them. Not only did some of my other friends opt in, but I didn't feel like I was missing out. If anything I was indulging my sweet tooth - result.
I hope this post has made you consider drinking a little less. I'm not planning on going tee-total anytime soon, but getting rid of most alcohol has changed my attitude. Now I feel a lot happier drinking one or two drinks before going out and ordering non-alcoholic bevvys with friends. Nobody really cares and who knows your body might thank you for it!
Let me know if you were successful with dry January or if you want some more practical tips just drop me a comment/message.
All my love, Sam