The Next Round: What happens after you change your drinking?

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Don't quit Dry January lockdown intentions

Why national lockdown is NOT the time to quit your Dry January intentions

On Monday the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another national lockdown. Now our social media feeds are awash with ‘comedy’ memes centred around why you should bail on your Dry January plans, or the amount of booze everyone intends to drink in order to survive another lockdown. 

We’re here to say to you, ‘don’t ditch your Dry January efforts now.’ And to those of you whose plans extend beyond Dry January, this message is particularly important.

Remember why you started a dry month

Whoever you are, whatever your relationship with alcohol, you chose to do this for a reason. Maybe you wanted to take a break, maybe it was part of a New Year health kick, or maybe you’re ditching the booze for good. If you’re doing Dry January, you have just spent six whole days committing to an intention, showing up for yourself. You did it. You built a solid foundation, and now is not the time to let that go to waste. 

Your hard-wiring 

We’re very good at telling ourselves that we deserve a drink. Maybe we had a bad day at work, the news is terrifying, or home schooling is daunting. We convince ourselves that we deserve a drink, because we got through a tough day and tomorrow will probably be tough too. We’re hardwired in the Western world to use alcohol to cope with our emotions. Your brain says to you ‘nobody would judge me for giving up now, I’ve got the excuse I need’. That’s your inner critic talking, remember that stopping now is not what you actually want.

Your choice

You chose to take this time away from alcohol, and you don’t do that unless it’s something that you really want for yourself. You still want what’s at the end of Dry January, whether that’s continued sobriety, or giving yourself a pat on the back for a month without drinking. If you didn’t want that, you wouldn’t have started. Stop. Recognise your feelings for what they are. Of course you’re anxious, you’re tired, you’re scared about what comes next. But none of that is going to go away. You aren’t going to feel any better if you break your resolve and have a drink. If you have stopped drinking because it is problematic for you, there is every chance you will drink more than you already were. that is going to result in a negative cycle, one in which you convince yourself that you are a failure. It is only going to make your next attempt more challenging. 

Return to your Dry January intention

Think about why you started this. Maybe it was to facilitate more exercise, maybe you wanted to improve your sleep. Perhaps you wanted to be more present with your family, or you just wanted to give your body a break after the festive period. Visualise that future that you wanted for yourself, and know that it is still possible, because you have everything you need within yourself. You still have the choice to step back out into the world after this lockdown having achieved what you set out to do. 

I’m not telling you that you have to do this, that you have to achieve something right now. But I am going to ask you to ask yourself a question. ‘If I give up now, how will I feel?’. Chances are you’ll feel some sense of failure or disappointment. If giving up drinking for good is your goal, revisiting this in the future might feel harder, because you will remember the time you tried to do it, and didn’t manage it. You may reinforce that nasty inner critic, ‘this is too hard, you can’t do it’. 

If you already slipped up, that’s ok. You still have the opportunity to dust yourself off, and get back on that path you set out for yourself. 

Controlling your environment in national lockdown

Remember that during this time of national lockdown, you have complete control over your environment. You aren’t going to the pub, you won’t be tempted to drink at a social occasion. This is actually quite a unique opportunity to work within set parameters that are out of your hands. Perhaps it’s a good time to stick with it and make the most of a challenging time. And if you can get through this without drinking, you’ll only build that muscle of resilience for the future.

Long term drinking goals beyond the national lockdown

If you think that an alcohol-free lifestyle is best for you long term and you started that journey recently, please don’t give up. This is a miserable and challenging time, and unfortunately it is going to continue to challenge us for a while yet. For many, drinking started at an early age, and that conditioning to drink to cope with difficult feelings goes back a long way. You might be facing hard times for the first time as a sober adult, and that can be terrifying. But you can do it. If you need extra support, find us on Facebook where you can get involved with our wonderful community of like minded folk. We also have our free 3 Day course, as well as longer paid for courses which will give you access to our wonderful team.

Hang in there, we know you can do it.

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