Five Tips for a Dry January and Continuing a Sober Life

Congratulations on attempting a Dry January! I’m so glad you are here!

Whether this is your first attempt or another attempt after a decade of Dry Janaurys, every attempt deserves applause and praise. So, do not beat yourself if you are starting over again. Just dust yourself off and dry again.

Before beginning your Dry January, decide if your goal is 31 days (January 31) or will you continue a dry life. Perhaps before committing, you may want to understand the two types of sober movements related to your own needs and a commitment beyond 31 days.

“Being sober curious means being interested in exploring a lifestyle that is free from alcohol, but not necessarily committing to complete traditional sobriety,” as defined as Sober Together. In other words, you allow yourself to enjoy a social drink occasionally.

However, sober living refers to sobriety and a living a life without alcohol. Sobriety and the absence of alcohol requires a deeper commitment than sober curious.

For me, I committed to a sober life on November 1, 2023. I felt as though my alcoholic consumption prevented me from living my healthiest life. After noticing how alcohol was affecting my sleeping patterns and anxiety, I decided to abstain from drinking. So although I had a bit of a head start before Dry January, I am here to support you making the leap into a sober life.

Five Tips for a Dry January

1. Be clear on your WHY

To determine your WHY, you will need to dig in and do some deep self-reflection, because your why will be what you fall back on when temptation creeps in. Your WHY will also carry you through if you decide to a long term sober life.  Your intention sets the tone for your journey.

So, what is your WHY?

For example, my why is to live my healthiest life and to be a healthy role model for my children.

2. Define your goal.

Much like your WHY, your goal will hold you accountable. To set a dry goal, your objective should be specific, realistic and attainable with a timeframe, much like any other personal goal you would set.

In other words, will your Dry January be a month-long reset or a long-term plan? Will you explore mindful drinking and a sober curious life or will you commit to sober life and abstain from alcohol? What is your desired timeframe – a month, three months, six months, etc.?

At the end of your Dry January journey, reflect on what your learned about your relationship with alcohol. Be honest. Growth occurs when we do the hard work.

3. Plan and Prep

Next, identify your triggers – an activity or situation that elicits a negative response during your sober journey. Learning how to identify your triggers and how to navigate them will help you when they arise.

If stress is a trigger, how can you reduce stressful situations? Control the controlables. Life will always bring stressful moments. Learning healthy ways to navigate stress without alcohol will move the dial towards a healthier you.

Perhaps social gatherings are your triggers. When attending a party, bring your own non-alcoholic beverages. If dining at a restaurant is a trigger, replace ordering a bottle of wine with a bottle of sparking water or order club soda.

If certain times of day are your trigger, pre-plan healthy alternatives and activities that bring you joy to avoid that cocktail hour trigger. Replace your cocktail with a mocktail, kombucha, diet soda or herbal tea. Plan a walk during that time or meditate. In other words, replace the old behavior with a new healthy alternative.

Also, stock up on delicious non-alcoholic beverages, such as sparkling water, kombucha and herbal teas. These will be your saving grace when you face cravings and triggers.

4. Build a Support System

Once you’ve determined your why and set a goal, inform your close circle – friends, family and loved ones. Explain your goals so your inner circle to keep you accountable.

Connect with other sober-curious individuals through online communities, support groups and in-person meetups. Finding like-minded people can offer encouragement and inspiration.

Come join my Facebook Group Sobering Thoughts for support and in-person non-alcoholic meetups.

And remember… when faced with a colleague or an acquaintance who does not understand your sobriety and encourages you to drink – “It’s just one drink”, respond with “I’m just not drinking right now.” This one simple response becomes a very powerful thought-terminating phrase. Definitely keep this response in your back pocket. May the Sober Force be with you!

5. Embrace Self-Care

Busy parents and professionals with little down time or spending money may view self-care as a privilege. However, self-care does not have to be an added an expense.

So, let’s redefine self-care to be what works for you and your life. Self-care can mean unplugging from devices and phones at a set time every night or committing to a regular bedtime routine. Or, replace doomscrolling with reading a book.

Self care can mean prioritizing sleep, healthy meals, and exercise. A nourished body and mind are better equipped to handle challenges and cravings. Getting a good night’s sleep (at least seven hours), daily movement such as walking and fueling your body properly without restricting food groups will help manage triggers and cravings.

Practice mindfulness techniques such as yoga, meditation, journaling. These techniques can help manage emotional triggers as well. Perhaps, also consider talking to a professional during this time to learn other tools to navigate sober living and other emotional triggers and trauma.

Then, if your expenses permit a monthly treat, plan a massage or some other self-care treat to celebrate your sober living progress.

Enjoying an herbal tea after a massage at the Salamander Spa at Innisbrook.

There are many exciting and fulfilling ways to socialize and celebrate without alcohol. Embrace the adventure and create new memories with a clear and present mind.

As a former marathon runner, I can assure you that committing to the training is where the grit, mindset and work lies. That’s where you face challenges and remember your why. After all, we are training for a sober marathon here. Every day that we lace up brings new challenges, victories and self-discoveries.

And remember, slips happen! When they happen, don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge it, learn from it and get back on track.

Remember, Dry January and a sober-curious life are about exploration and empowerment. Focus on the positive benefits such as improved sleep, less bloatedness, clearer skin, increased energy, and a deeper connection to yourself. Take it one day at a time, celebrate your successes, and be kind to yourself on your sober journey.

For more Dry January tips, read my Dry January post from 2018Eight Things I Learned When I Gave Up Drinking.