How to do Dry January during COVID-19

December 2020 | 9 minutes

This January will be pretty different - so here are some top tips for taking on a dry month during COVID-19.

This year has been a bit of an odd one, to say the least. Many of us have spent it stressed, anxious and worried, and some of us might have developed drinking habits we’d like to break. Dry January offers the perfect opportunity to do just that.

“But how?” we hear you ask. Well, Dry January is the perfect chance for a break. A total reset. 31 days to try something new. Reclaim your mornings. Relax with a bath, not a bottle. Shake off the 2020 funk and jump into a new hobby with energy. It’s not about giving something up, but about getting something back. Your time, your energy, your fun, your freedom. Get your YOU back.

But how do you take on a Dry January in amongst the ongoing COVID-19 uncertainty, with stress levels still so high? Here are some of our top tips, featuring advice from people who have been moderating or alcohol free throughout the pandemic.

First thing's first: you'll get more out of Dry January if you download the free Try Dry app!

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1. Preparation is key

“Preparation is key. There will be times when you will crave alcohol, so decide in advance how you are going to deal with these cravings. Allow yourself some chocolate or other treat in the first few days which are the hardest, the longer you go the easier it gets.”

Bill

“Don’t have alcohol in the house, try lots of alcohol-free beer/cocktail alternatives, use the Try Dry app to track dry days, read as much as possible (from reliable sources) about how alcohol affects our body and mind, find something to do to take your mind off booze, be curious and try things out without judging yourself.”

Jan

The thought of taking on a Dry January now might feel hard. But the trick with things that feel difficult is to prepare for them, not to avoid them. That’s why, for this Dry January especially, preparation is key. Remind yourself why you’re doing this, make a list and look at it when the going gets tough. Get rid of any alcohol in your house – if it’s not there, you can’t be tempted. Make a plan for what you’re going to do if cravings strike.

If January 2021 brings us some bad news, further anxiety or stress, what are you going to do? Are there ways you can relax that don’t involve alcohol? Decide on your coping mechanisms ahead of time so you’re prepared.

To read more tips on preparing for your Dry January, check out this blog.

2. Look after your general mental health

“Any change is better than no change.”

Ann

In times of stress, we can find ourselves drinking more often or more heavily. To make sure you’re less tempted to reach for a drink to help you cope, look after your general mental health. Make sure you eat healthily, take breaks from the news every now and then, and get outside once a day if possible. Not drinking will help you work out healthier coping mechanisms for the difficult feelings you’re experiencing.

We have more tips about looking after your general mental health without drinking in this blog.

3. Find alternative treats and ways to relax

“I’ve changed how I socialise with friends, instead of meeting in the pub with drinks (or a virtual catch up with cocktails), I have asked if we could meet for a walk. It reinforces the support when friends agree to do something different to help with you being alcohol-free, plus the fresh air is much better!”

Carmel

“My best advice is to try alternatives such as alcohol-free beer, botanicals with tonic or other mixers.”

Colleen

It might be that alcohol is your go-to treat when you need to relax, or when you feel you deserve a reward. To make your Dry January easier, try finding other things to treat yourself with to break the association between treating, relaxing and alcohol. Ease yourself into it by ordering some alcohol-free drinks or some fancy soft drinks or teas, for example, so you have them on hand at the end of a long working day.

Here we have more tips on having a sober night in.

4. Be gentle with yourself

“Try not to focus on what you're losing, but what you are adding to your life. Add lots of new things to try out - walks, a hobby, new routines, new foods, new chocolate! Giving up alcohol is enriching.”

Amanda

“I'd say maybe try to think about what it is you really want out of a drink. Is it a sense of belonging? Connection with friends? Rest and relaxation? Alcohol promises much, but doesn't really deliver any of those things. Yes, it tastes nice (some of it does) but so do lots of things! Bake a cake instead!”

Liz

One of the key things we want you to remember this Dry January is to be gentle with yourself. We’ve all been through a lot this past year, so don’t feel disheartened when change doesn’t come as easily as you had hoped. You can definitely do this, and we’re right by your side.

Setbacks are a totally normal, albeit frustrating, part of changing a habit. But they’re also a great opportunity for learning, and moving forward positively. Here are our tips for managing setbacks.

“My new vastly reduced drinking pattern was hit hard by COVID-19. My plans to move on with my life were dented by the first lockdown… I have been drinking most nights since lockdown – but I have managed to keep my drinking down to round and about safe drinking levels… I am going to be kind with myself. It was a tough year, I went back a bit, but I will get back on track with Dry January.” Jules took part in Dry January 2020 and felt a lot of benefits from it. But then lockdown happened, and she slipped into habits she’d rather break. With the help of Dry January, breaking those habits is exactly what she plans to do! Read Jules's story.

If you’d like to read more about making the most of your dry month, here we list ten tools for getting the most out of your Dry January!

Feeling inspired to take on a Dry January? We’ve got your back. Double your chances of having a totally Dry January by signing up for our free app or coaching emails here.

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