So, you’ve taken the plunge and committed to Dry January in 2018. Maybe this is a fundraising effort, maybe it is just a personal challenge to yourself, Either way. Well done you!
You will get huge benefits from taking a month off the booze. Alcohol really does take a big toll on both mental and physical health, so by taking this break, you are doing yourself a huge favour as well.
If you are used to alcohol being a big part of your life, then the idea of a month off can be quite daunting. What on earth are you going to do? Firstly, make sure you have a plan of action. You can get some advice on how to do this here.
One of the best ways to look at your Dry January attempt is to see it as an act of self love, and self care rather than depriving yourself of something you want. When we tell ourselves we can’t have something, we tend to want it more. By focusing on the ways you can benefit from the exercise, you will be able to see it as a positive addition to your life, rather than something being taken away.
Here are 10 self care practices you can do to enjoy your sobriety and get the most benefit from it.
Try something new
That thing you have been wanting to try for ages? Is it possible to do it? Could you take that ice skating class, or learn to knit, or join the choir, or whatever else it is you have been putting off doing? Why not try it now. Or if there is something new happening locally that you hadn’t really thought you wanted to do, why not give it a try. What have you got to lose? It might be the best fun ever!
Get out into nature
Countless articles on the web extol the many benefits of going out into nature, whether is is being by the sea, walking in the hills, gardening, forest bathing and more. Spending time in nature also helps you to connect with the beauty and magnificence of the world we live in, whether that is standing by the ocean or nurturing a seed into a flower.
Alcohol impairs the quality of sleep. I know that it can feel like it helps you to sleep, I was convinced for years that it was the answer to my insomnia, but in reality, you don’t get a good night’s sleep at all. During October, take advantage and enjoy the benefits of refreshing, clear sleep. If you have trouble getting to sleep at all, then this practice will help
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which make you feel good. The good feeling you get from these natural highs far outweigh the artificial high that you briefly get from alcohol, and you get to help your body be healthier! Exercise helps to reduce stress and anxiety, so increasing your daily exercise levels through October (and beyond) will reduce that ‘I need a drink‘ feeling that can happen when you get stressed trough the day.
Drink plenty of water
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that when you drink it, you actually lose more liquid than you take in. Dehydration is a big cause of hangovers, foggy brain, sleeplessness and more. If you are drinking enough water, your urine will be a pale colour, the colour of pale straw. If it is not this colour you need to take in more water. If it is, you are drinking enough and you don’t need to increase it (it is possible to drink too much water!)
The amount of water you need varies from person to person, and the level of activity you are doing (very active people will need more) You can do this by drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day (herbal teas are also good). Space the drinks out throughout the day. The easiest. and most eco friendly way to do this is to have a water bottle that you keep filled up and with you at all times. This lovely water bottle from Balhvit contains one litre, which is a good amount to start with, and keep an eye on the colour of your wee!
Use this time to reflect on your thoughts and experiences. We often rush around in life so busy and frantic that we don’t take time to stop and notice what we are thinking or feeling. Spending time each day reflecting on your day, writing your thoughts, can be a powerful way to become more self aware and tap into your intuition more. You can get a free ebook with journal prompts from me here, or you could treat yourself to a beautiful book to journal in
Use this time to expand your mind and become inspired. I am a big fan of the inspirational personal development book, and would recommend reading books by people such as Brene Brown, Robin Sharma, Guy Hendricks to name but a few. You could learn more about my experience with alcohol, which includes mention of my attempt to ‘Go Sober’, in my book Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga. Or you could explore your own interests of which I have no idea! I would love to invite you to commit to reading at least one book this month, and let me know in the comments which one you are going to read!
Spending just 5 minutes a day sitting quietly, with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath, is a powerful way to still your mind, connect with your higher self and your intuition, and reduce stress and anxiety. It increases focus and clarity, meaning that you become far more productive and efficient in your work, and helps to keep any sobriety related anxiety at bay.
In this video, I guide you through a 10 minute quiet sitting practice, I hope it is helpful to you
The ‘calm feeling’ that drinking alcohol gives you comes from its ability to mimic the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms the nervous system and acts as a natural tranquiliser. Alcohol does not create GABA, it impersonates it, deceiving the brain into thinking that you are calmer than you are. It actually increases the level of cortisol, the stress hormone in the brain, so contribute to stress levels!
Yoga, on the other hand, actually creates GABA in the brain. When you practice Yoga, even for one session, the levels of GABA in your brain increase, which explains one of the reasons why people who regularly practice Yoga are so calm and happy.
Practicing gratitude, acknowledging the good things in your life and living in a state of appreciation for all that you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have, is a powerful and effective way to create instant happiness. Instead of dwelling on the absence of alcohol in your life this October, reflect on all that you do have, all the ways that life is good, and how much healthier you feel as a resut of a break from the booze. I will celebrate 3 years of sobriety in October, and when I find myself briefly wondering if I will drink again, I focus on how much better my life is in sobriety, and all thoughts of missing alcohol disappear!
Learn more about the benefits of gratitude here
Planning for Dry January success!
I have created a free ebook to help you plan and enjoy your Dry January experience this year. Get your copy by signing up here