A non-alcoholic cocktail can be just as refreshing and delicious as the 'real' thing. / © Pexels
After the excess and merriment of the holiday period (or in my case, playing a lot of board games and eating too much cake), Dry January beckons. Here’s some tips to keep off the booze while still maintaining some festive fun.
While some Luxembourgers may already have abandoned Dry January, for others it offers the perfect New Year’s resolution. Rather than having to keep up with something for the whole year, an alcohol-free month seems pretty easy, right?
But despite it only lasting a grand total of 31 days, avoiding alcohol entirely during the month of January is easier said than done. So whether you’re doing it for health or personal reasons, or just fancy a break from the booze, here’s my top tips for making Dry January successful and enjoyable.
DON’T think you’re giving anything up. Doing Dry January comes with a host of benefits for you, including better sleep, saving money, and long-term health benefits. That’s even if you return to drinking alcohol come 1 February.
DO enjoy non-alcoholic drinks. From the wide range of fizzy drinks available in the health food store, to non-alcoholic beer or wine, to concoctions made at home, the world is your oyster in terms of booze-free alternatives.
On that note, DO try making mocktails at home. There’s something about the ceremony and splendour of a cocktail that makes drinking alcohol feel extra special. The good news is that you can easily replicate that at your home bar, and save yourself a small fortune too. Whatever your favourite tipple, chances are there’s a non-alcoholic alternative: Mockmosa, anyone? Or a Cuddle on the Beach? How about a fresh, minty Nojito?
Even better, fight the January blues and host a mocktail party. Everyone can bring a recipe and you can plan the kind of silly party games which usually only seem acceptable when you’ve had a drink or two. DON’T let the lack of alcohol stop you from having fun.
DO ask about mocktails and non-alcoholic alternatives when out and about too. Many bars and restaurants are well set up for non-drinkers, and sometimes the non-alcoholic drinks can add to the experience by showcasing a regional culinary culture. For instance, if you haven’t tried mango lassi yet, get yourself down to your nearest south Asian restaurant!
DON’T beat yourself up if you end up having a drink or two. Sure, Dry January is an exercise in self-restraint, but it’s also about being resilient in the face of temptation. Resilience in this case doesn’t mean never drinking, but the ability to bounce back and maintain the challenge after a slip-up. So if you enjoy a tipple once in a while, don’t regard it as a failure: how you respond to such situations is a key part of the Dry January challenge.
DO think about emptying the booze cupboard at home, though. Easy availability makes resisting that much harder, so consider giving your bottle collection to a friend for the month, or placing them somewhere inaccessible.
If staying motivated proves troublesome, DO consider making the challenge bigger than you. Rope in your friends and challenge them to join you (a good time to ask could be at that mocktail party!).
For even broader impact, DO think about doing Dry January for charity. You could get others to sponsor you and donate the collections to a local charity helping disadvantaged people to better integrate into society, or a health charity researching rare diseases. There are tons of suggestions for good causes in Luxembourg here.
If you’re really struggling, DO be flexible with the format. Not willing to give up alcohol for a whole month? Make it a week, or two weeks. You could try one booze-free week every month for a year, for instance, which could prove both easier and have more impact. If you usually drink at the weekends, try an alcohol-free Friday to Sunday every fortnight. If you like a tipple after work, take a break on alternate days. Dry January is all about having a break from booze, so don’t feel you have to stick to a rigid timetable if that doesn’t work for you.
On a serious note, if you think you may be addicted to alcohol, DO get support. In some cases Dry January may be inappropriate or even dangerous. So if you suspect an addiction, talk to a support group and/or healthcare professional before embarking on Dry January.