It started in the UK, but last year it started taking off in Canada, and since the start of 2016 a fair number of Canadians (we didn’t say “large,” we said “fair”) have been doing Dry January – taking the pledge to stay off booze for 31 days. Well, the month is about half over – you’re over the jump of the first, hardest two weeks – and it’s time to check in.
In the UK Dry January is a personal challenge that attracts participants for health and other personal benefits of a month of sobriety. In Canada, the effort has been given a much-needed push by Dry January, an organization which collects funds for cancer research.
If you did give up alcohol this month, you’ve probably noticed some changes, depending on how much you drank before the New Year:
- A tough first few days. A headache, fatigue, and everything else that happens after New Year’s Eve.
- A sense of something missing. Even if you’re not an alcohol abuser, if you drink regularly, you might get the feeling that you could really use a buzz right now, just to make life a bit more relaxed.
- Weight loss. You’ve cut out some calories, enough to show up on the scale at the end of the month.
- Better sleep. Alcohol is not a good sleep aid, contrary to what people believe. If you’re off booze, you’re getting better sleep, which means better waking hours as well: increased concentration and a performance boost at work or play.
- Cash. You’re saving some money by not buying those rounds of drinks.
- Easier driving. No need for designated drivers or taxis. You’re good to go every night.
The best thing to be said for Dry January, though, is that it enables you to assess your relationship to alcohol. If this month is really that bad, you should seek some counseling. If it’s really good, perhaps you can revise your attitude towards drinking a bit. That doesn’t necessarily mean giving it up, but drinking less, and doing so only for enjoyment, not as a medication to ease the way through difficult or awkward situations, or as a tonic for a bad day.
Dry January is a great idea, one that ought to spread to other countries where people drink a lot without thinking about it (and that’s a lot of countries). We hope it becomes a bigger part of Canadian life, soi more people are led to think about the role alcohol plays in their lives, and the lives of their friends and family.
If you’re in the middle of your Dry January, then congratulations. Let us know what you learned about yourself when it’s over.