Dry January is officially coming to a close – but what comes next? After a month of structure and boundaries around drinking, figuring out what you want the rest of your year to look like can be daunting. According to a study from the University of Sussex, about 80% of people who’d participated in Dry January felt more in control of their drinking habits afterward, and six months later, a majority of them had significantly scaled back their alcohol consumption. As inspiring as that is, navigating the days after Dry January on your own can still feel tricky. Here are our tips for transitioning from Dry January into the next eleven months of the year.
First of all, give yourself a huge pat on the back. Any change in routine can be challenging (especially a month-long change) and you got through it! Whether you were just scaling back your regular alcohol consumption or you went completely dry, you deserve to celebrate that achievement.
But don’t go popping any bottles just yet. One of the worst things you can do after a huge break from drinking is to rush back into it. Instead, allow yourself a moment to reflect on why you decided to try Dry January in the first place, and if there have been any noticeable changes in your life. Maybe you found that you slept better, or had more time for hobbies. It might be worth taking a longer break from drinking in order to keep those habits going.
This is also a great time to examine what role alcohol plays in your life. Think about why you chose to try Dry January in the first place, and if the factors that led you to cut back on drinking a month ago are still present in your life. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink, but if you find yourself turning to alcohol out of stress or boredom, that can be a red flag. Give yourself some time to explore the intent behind your drinking habits, and pinpoint what you’re really looking to get from your alcohol consumption.
If you love the social aspect of grabbing a drink with friends, try to come up with other activities you could try to give you that same feeling of closeness. If you find yourself drinking to ease anxiety, look into alternate methods of relaxation such as meditation. If having a drink is something you do out of habit, look into how you can mix things up. This is a great opportunity to explore new things that you might not have considered before.
Remember that there’s no rush to get back into drinking. You don’t have to break your new habit immediately just because Dry January is over. If you find that sobriety is benefiting you, then there’s no reason not to keep it up and see where it leads you. Even if you do return to drinking eventually, consider setting a few boundaries that are in line with what you’ve learned about yourself. Maybe you’ll stick to drinking only on weekends, or alternate your cocktails with mocktails depending on your mood. Keep in mind that there aren’t any true rules or limits here. It’s all about assessing your personal needs, and setting goals with your own happiness and comfort in mind.