Dry January is the term given to the act of not drinking alcohol for the whole month of January, usually as an antithesis to an obscenely boozy Christmas season. I embarked on this adventure pre-pandy and here's how it went.
I’m a quintessential British binge drinker: the odd glass or two of wine in the week with dinner and a big sometimes sloppy nights out most weekends - well, pre-pandy that is. Things haven't been sloppy since 2020 but the learnings still stand.
Why would people do this to themselves on the coldest, greyest, darkest, poorest month of the year? The reasons vary from money to health and everything in between. When I did my first dry January, I did it because I’d been making terrible financial decisions and realised it was time to grow up, especially as I was trying to save enough money to move house.
If I’m honest, a part of me was expecting this to be life changing in some way. I thought I'd be a dewy skin glowing waking up early never hungover full of energy incredibly lucid productive unstoppable bundle of better.
Here’s what actually happened:
I’m not sure if you’ve ever dated sober, I certainly have always had at least one drink in hand during the early stages of dating just to ease through any awkwardness in the interaction. I had one date that month with someone who was thankfully also dry January-ing. He had just moved into his new own new apartment so we decided (I decided) we should spend the evening furniture shopping at Westfield as our first date.
I have to say this was a stellar date idea because it helped us both tick off items on our life admin lists and gave us plenty to chat about. I didn't feel like future dates should be sober necessarily but I did promise myself I'd try to be more productive with the time I spend with strangers moving forward.
Having said that, there was one dry January where I had the unfortunate experience of snogging a stranger sober. Never. Again. 100% would not recommend.
When I dry January'd pre-pandy, I managed to avoid catching a cold during the whole month of January despite my nearest and dearest succumbing to the winter sniffles. This could also be down to the vitamin D quadruple dose I'd started taking in December. Or less time spent in hangover mode meaning my white blood cells can actually do the many other jobs around my body. Or improved sleep from fewer nights out. Or...
At the start of one dry January, I was drinking mocktails instead of water on nights out so I could still feel like I was a part of things. This was quite the mistake because sugar hangovers are just as bad as booze hangovers. Who knew. I lost no weight because every alcohol calorie I’d saved was swiftly replaced with sugary soft drinks and extra food (as a treat for being so dry). Switching to soda water and fresh lemon in a gin goblet or wine glass has been a gamechanger. Tastes gross (like booze) and hydrates (not like booze) so mornings were slick.
Plus, if you look sad enough loads of pubs won’t even charge you for it! Winner.
It was nice to not have to plan around hangovers at the weekends. I spent far less that month by catching my last train home and having the energy to cook more at home instead of swallowing an entire pizza whole before napping in an Uber home. I also used to start nights out with a g&t to shake off the social anxiety I wasn't aware I suffered from until I stopped drinking. Going into social circumstances was really the hardest part of this little experiment but what was interesting was the first 5 minutes was the scariest and things got easier the more others drank hehe.