What to do after Dry January? Tips from those who've been there

January 2020 | 7 minutes

Everyone in this blog is alcohol-free or moderating their drinking long-term - here they give their advice about what to do after Dry January.

Take time to think

Whether you plan to start drinking again or not, it's worth taking a bit of time to think about why you did Dry January and what you got from it. It's a good opportunity to reflect and plan your relationship with alcohol in the long term.


Try to ensure that Dry January isn’t merely a handbrake that once you remove it you’re straight back out of control. Think of 1 February as the beginning of your journey not the end.


Look back before you look forward

If you have kept a journal then reading through it is so powerful. [Even if you haven’t,] start by looking at your cravings. Really figuring out WHY you use alcohol helps. Then looking at WHY you did Dry January. What is it about a sober life that appeals to you? If anything? Observe other sober people listen for the green-eyed monster to find out what it is you are REALLY craving. Is it a connection? Is it peace and quiet? Think of it as a self-awareness exercise get to know YOU. Be open to the idea this could be AMAZING for you it has been for me!!!


Take one goal at a time

You may have had no intention of going dry completely when you started Dry January, but you may now be thinking of it. It’s worth just taking it one day at a time, or one goal at a time. You’ll soon hear about 100 days as a goal, then Sober Spring - why not give it a go? And if you do take a day off, there’s no reason not to restart!


It you’re not sure, set a new target like 100 days. Don’t say I’m going to stop forever because that’s too overwhelming.


Set another goal to reach, perhaps 66 days (the time to embed a new habit?) and see how you feel. For me, I saw all sorts of health benefits after 100 days.


Treat yourself

Reward yourself properly for targets met. Make a big deal of yourself. It takes courage to face this.


I treat myself A LOT during Dry January and afterwards! Usually in the form of self-care; a long soak in the bath, a face mask, a bit of pampering, a cake and coffee.


Find one or two substitute zero alcohol drinks that you really like.


It won’t all be easy – make a plan

Accept up and down days. Plan what you’re going to do when trigger times come up.


Make new routines

It gets easier... Make new routines and stick to them like glue. They really help. Find and stick to positive replacement activities - walks, baths, painting, reading. Take up a new and absorbing hobby. Mine is exercise. It keeps me feeling great mentally and physically. These same strategies will help keep you positive throughout lockdown.


Focus on the positives

Focus on the positive. Look at all the benefits Dry January has brought, and look forward to those yet to come. Rejoice in the freedom!


The best could be yet to come

Being alcohol free isn't just for January if you don't want it to be. The benefits can last so much longer!


If you’re thinking, even just thinking, about carrying on being alcohol-free, then that’s a clue that your body and mind appreciated being booze-free. You could give alcohol-free Feb a try and see how you feel after that!


I didn’t notice some of the best effects until I had been alcohol free for 3 months - my psoriasis cleared completely after having had it since I was 16, I’m now 53 - give it time.