Give Damp January a go (Picture: Metro.co.uk)
We know full well that an all-or-nothing approach isn’t usually the best thing.
Total abstinence or extreme restriction tends to make us crave what we’re missing, causing inevitable failure, followed by guilt, shame, then a full immersion back in whatever thing we were trying to give up.
We know this, and yet every time January rolls round, we decide we’re magically capable of a steely resolve.
Then, a few days in, normal life happens and pledges like Dry January can easily slip.
If you’ve already hit the booze a week into your vow to swerve alcohol entirely, try not to be too disheartened – or chuck all your good intentions out of the window.
Times have been tough recently (to put it lightly). It’s not a massive failure to not quite manage the lofty goal of being totally alcohol-free.
But rather than giving up entirely, beating yourself up, or going all out on the booze because why not, why not try Damp January, instead?
Damp January is pretty much what it sounds like.
Rather than aiming for the total abstinence of Dry January, it’s about taking a more measured approach to measures, and instead reducing your alcohol intake, being more mindful of your drinking, and reflecting on your relationship with booze.
What Damp January looks like for you may be different to someone else. Perhaps it’s as simple as swapping to a low-alcohol beer, swapping wine for water with your dinner, or just giving yourself a drinks limit for your next Zoom social gathering.
Damp January gives you permission to move on from a blip and keep pursuing your sober-curious goals, without the idea that if any alcohol passes your lips, you’ve failed.
Yes, going teetotal poses a lot of benefits for our mental and physical wellbeing, but so does cutting back our alcohol intake.
If you aren’t ready to ditch alcohol entirely, but do fancy cutting back and drinking more responsibly, Alex Templeton of home-doctor service Qured has some tips:
- We tend to think in bottles, cans or glasses when tracking our drinking. Instead, start thinking in units: the safe drinking recommendation is 14 units a week for men and women, or:
· 6 pints of average strength beer (4% ABV)
· 6 medium glasses wine (13% ABV)
· 14 single measures of spirits (37.5% ABV)
Bear in mind that your limits may be less than this, and drinking more increases the risk on your physical and mental health.
- If you’re drinking with your family, partner or housemates, aim to be the last to finish your drink. Don’t accept every top up you’re offered, and make sure you’re not drinking in rounds – this can lead to you drinking as much as the biggest drinker.
- Half pints, small glasses and singles rather than doubles are your friend. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re drinking when it’s in a larger single quantity.
- Be sure to eat before you drink, and be wary of salty snacks which make you thirsty and want to drink more. Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to getting drunk too quickly, and more likely to wake up feeling unwell.
- It’s easy to forget to hydrate when you’re drinking, but a glass of water alongside any alcohol is a simple, effective way of making sure you’re taking care of it – you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
- It may be tempting to ‘save up’ all the units for one day, but this can be just as damaging and your body needs a break. Be strict about putting in alcohol free days in between to let yourself recover.
- Lastly, take note of when you think you’ve had enough for the day or week. Moderation is key to managing your alcohol consumption, and will help change your drinking habits for the rest of the year.
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