Does Dry January feel like too much of a challenge this year? Here’s the one question you need to ask yourself before you pour yourself that glass of wine.
What’s the real reason I want a drink?
Yep, that’s it. And after you’ve asked yourself this question, you might still decide to have a drink. I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t!
I do know, though, that many women will have an internal battle over whether to drink or not. They want to do Dry January, but life is just So Hard right now. It really is, and there’s no judgement here if you do have a drink. But if you wake up the next morning and feel disappointed in yourself, you need to find out why you’re in a pattern of drinking so you can work out what to do about it.
I would advise you to do just one thing when you’re deciding whether or not to have a drink.
Take a moment to ask yourself why you want one.
Most people have the same answer: you just fancy one, you need one to help you unwind after a hard day, or it’s been a good day and you deserve a reward.
But these are not really the true causes of your drinking.
Let’s look at each of these reasons. A child would consider their birthday to be a good day, but we don’t give them a glass of wine to celebrate it. Does it take anything away from their fun? No! Because the fun isn’t coming from the glass of wine.
I’m sure you can think of a time of your life that was particularly tough. You might have had a few gin and tonics to cheer yourself up or drown your sorrows. But how did it feel when you woke up the next morning, still in the same situation, and now with a hangover to deal with? Yeah, I’ve been there too, and I know it’s not pretty.
The final reason for having a drink is that you just fancy one. That’s a harder one to explain.
What’s likely to be happening in that scenario, is that you want to distract your brain with alcohol to get away from feelings you don’t want to feel. These feelings don’t have to be terrible or dark. It could be just that you’re bored, and to alleviate the boredom, you decide to have a drink.
Is drinking an interesting activity in itself, though? No, not really, or a glass of juice would do the same job. It’s the numbing effect we’re really after.
Recognising that you’re drinking as a response to boredom gives you the power to react to the feeling differently.
The pandemic and lockdown have played a part in our drinking habits.
For most people, the bad days are more frequent right now; life is more boring, with nowhere to go and no-one to see, and if the good days are few and far between, you want to celebrate when they happen! That’s why it’s understandable that many people are struggling with Dry January this year.
Like I said at the start – this is a judgement-free zone. I’m not telling you to stop drinking or that you should feel bad about drinking (if you’ve grown up in the UK you’ve been taught that it’s a normal and expected thing for adults do – but that’s a whole other post).
I know that lots of women want to stop drinking, but they find themselves stuck in the same old habits. It can just help to look at your motivations for drinking from a different perspective.
So, if deep down, you want to cut back or stop drinking, next time temptation hits, just stop for a moment and ask yourself why—the real, true, deep down reason why.
You might still decide to have a drink anyway, and that’s entirely your choice. But understanding what’s driving you can really help you see your relationship with alcohol with fresh eyes.
What to know more about quitting alcohol? Read about why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to stop drinking.