Dry January diaries: week one

January 2020 | 8 minutes

Every week, our Dry January diarists let us know how they're getting on with their challenge.

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Week one is over, and Scott and James haven't struggled too much so far. This week, they write about what they got up to in week one, and what temptations they managed to swerve.

Scott

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Scott with his cup of tea
Monday 6 January 2020

I've officially started Dry January.

I had a great time bringing in the New Year with friends up North. We had a lot of fun eating, drinking and playing board games until late, followed by afternoon walks along the beautiful coastline around Buckie.

There was only one temptation and that was a dram of whisky on 1 January to go with the steak pie we had for dinner. But I resisted, with my reward being the promise of a dram sometime in February.

We got back on 2 January and I’d forgotten that we’d arranged for friends to come for dinner the next day. I made a quick trip to the supermarket to re-stock and spent my Friday afternoon making ravioli. Dinner was great; I thought I would be tempted to have a glass of wine but I had a non-alcoholic sparkling elderflower drink with dinner instead.

We managed to get some much-needed downtime at the weekend. We took a walk around Holyrood Park, which gave my daughter an opportunity to play with the scooter we bought her for Christmas. We stopped in at our local on the way home for lunch and I enjoyed a glass of Scotland’s other national drink (IRN BRU, of course!).

Today I was back to work and it was a very busy start to the year. I run a digital marketing training and advisory business and we finished last year with a couple of new training projects so I had to hit the ground running and was straight into calls, planning and designing a training programme.

Sometimes after a long day I enjoy a glass of wine, but this time I’m planning on enjoying a nice mug of tea with a biscuit instead.

James

Wednesday 8 January 2020

The first weekend in January is always the first major challenge for me, but this year it fell early in the month and I was still recovering from New Year’s Eve and the Christmas period - I didn’t have any desire for alcohol at all! I filled the weekend with non-drinking activities (went to a meditation class, had lunch with a friend, went to the gym) and had a pub lunch with friends on Sunday. At least half of them weren’t drinking which is unusual, but that made it easier for me not to drink either. Several people commented on how natural it felt not to drink when others weren’t drinking either, and how that shows there's a big social element to alcohol consumption.

It’s always great to be reminded that your friends get along without alcohol, which is something a lot of people worry about when having time off booze. We all felt good for having spent a fun, sober afternoon together.

I have been doing well with the meditating, exercise and phone use targets. I’m feeling more focussed and have started reading at home. I also woke up before the alarm today for the first time in months! Things are definitely going in the right direction and I hope it continues.

Eleanor

13 January 2020

Last week was tough and I caved in and had a glass of wine. Just one, with my dinner. Someone drove into the back of my car on Friday morning and it really jangled me. It didn't really occur to me to have a glass of wine until someone (who didn't know I was doing Dry January) suggested it. Instead if someone had said go home and eat cake, I probably would have done that.

So, I used a car accident as an excuse to have a drink. What's interesting is that by doing this diary, I have had to admit to myself a few uncomfortable truths: that having a drink was a way of being kind to myself, and that I manage stress by having a drink. There were numerous other ways I could have treated myself kindly after the shock, and it underlined how I can succumb to peer pressure. I wasn't particularly fighting an urge to drink, but someone else gently legitimised the choice, and I willingly prioritised that voice over mine. I didn't even really notice the wine going down as I chomped away on my dinner, and before I knew it my glass was empty and I was thinking about a refill. 

So why am I doing Dry January? Initially just so that I could have a break from hangovers, and focus more on my training, but I'm now starting to notice the relationship I have with alcohol. I am avoiding certain social situations as I know I'd much prefer wine to be invited too. The social norm is to use alcohol as a means to relax and I've been conditioned to do that without a moment's hesitation. I can't imagine how much harder it must be for people facing a deeper dependency on alcohol to resist this societal pressure, however gentle the intention.

Anyway, I'm back on the wagon for the rest of the month, and sort of grateful that falling off it had given me pause to reflect.