Dry January… and beyond?

After a few weeks of festive excess, it’s perhaps little wonder that sobriety has become a January phenomenon in recent years. But how realistic is it? Experts say that a habit takes a minimum of 66 days to form – doesn’t that mean come February we’ll be back on it harder than we were before?

We’re firm believers in balance and moderation at The Garden. For anyone giving Dry January a go this month, Susie Hornby, proud teetotaler of two and a half years, shares her tips on getting through the month (and beyond if you’re keen) and the benefits that a life of sobriety can bring.

Some sobering thoughts…

January is often a time for reflection and setting intentions. After all the indulgence of the festive season, it can be a time when people decide to ease up on their drinking, or take a break from alcohol altogether. There are so many benefits to not drinking but cutting down, or stopping altogether, can be really tricky for some. For me it was the biggest challenge of my life. I was a big drinker for twenty years. I loved everything about drinking; it was a huge part of my identity. I drank to relax, to celebrate, to commiserate, to fuel adventures, to escape. It was all so much fun, until it wasn’t. Over time my casual drinking slowly morphed into a reliance on alcohol that made me feel uncomfortable and stuck. I tried to cut down but could barely
manage even one alcohol-free day.

Then one morning, in September 2015, I woke up feeling sick and tired and knew something had to change. I hadn’t hit any kind of rock bottom but I knew I had to take control. Moderation wasn’t working for me so, if I was serious about making a change, abstinence was the only option left. Fast forward nearly two and a half years and I haven’t touched alcohol since that day. It took a lot of grit and determination to move through those first alcohol-free days and weeks, and even now it can still be tough at times, but making this brave lifestyle choice has been totally worth it.

So, what is so great about not drinking? Well the list of physical and mental benefits is endless but these are the main ones for me…

  • Better quality of sleep
  • Clearer skin
  • Renewed energy
  • Clarity of mind
  • Improved immune system
  • Sharpened memory
  • No hangovers
  • Better mental health
  • Weight loss
  • Lowered risk of cancer
  • Improved self worth
  • Sense of achievement

Personally, the last one has been massive. Every day I’m achieving something I once thought was impossible for me. I have an ‘actually I can’ attitude now because successfully breaking my drinking habit has made me feel invincible. I feel calmer, stronger and healthier every day.

For anyone wishing to cut down or stop drinking this January, my tip would be to try focusing all of your attention on building new, healthier habits, rather than just fighting the old ones. For me yoga, running and eating more healthily have been a really important part of the process. I would also suggest seeking support and inspiration from the amazing sober community online, especially on Instagram. And make sure you reward yourself! You’ll probably have extra time and money on your hands if you’re not drinking so use it to treat yourself; do something special that you enjoy (that doesn’t involve booze!) or try out something completely new. The possibilities are limitless.

If you are considering rethinking your drinking habits for this month, or maybe even hitting your reset button more permanently, just go for it! Set your intentions from a place of love and self worth and I seriously doubt you’ll regret it.

Feel free to get in touch via my Instagram account @mind_body_glow, I would love to hear how you’re getting on.

Happy New Year!

Susie xx

Susie Hornby is married with three young children. She is a primary school teacher, local yoga teacher, wannabe runner and a proud teetotaler.