Steve's story: "The noticeable difference now, almost a year later, is that I drink much less … and it is very rare nowadays for me to 'overdo' it."

Steve Mitchell | December 2019 | 7 minutes

My reasons for doing Dry January in 2019 were basically down to health, both physical and mental. I was 49 years old at the time, and for a while I had been suffering from high blood pressure. Worse than that, though, I had become an anxious person, subject to tiredness and bouts of depression.

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I was conscious of not being able to manage the demands of family and professional life very well. I was not sleeping well, and waking up tired.

I had known about the Dry January campaign for some time, but felt it would be too difficult for me to do. And in any case, I enjoyed a drink with friends or on my own. The trouble was, like many people I suppose, I enjoyed it too much. Every night one glass of wine would lead to two or three, on my own or with friends, just as a way of trying to relieve the stress and give myself permission to relax at the end of a busy day. About once per month I would overdo things and spend the next day wishing everyone would go away. As I was having my last drink on 31 December, I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I wanted to know that I could stop drinking if I wanted to, and be released from any thoughts of being controlled by it.

The first few days were okay. I enjoyed telling people about my Dry January challenge, and it helped me to feel I was getting rid of the toxic effects of alcohol slowly but surely. I then got to the first Friday, and that was difficult - Friday is the end of the week and that is a good reason to celebrate. My job is always busy and I find I need a way of celebrating periods of down-time when they come.

I enjoyed telling people about my Dry January challenge, and it helped me to feel I was getting rid of the toxic effects of alcohol slowly but surely.

From then on, the pattern became established - not too difficult during the week, harder at weekends and especially hard at parties or work-related social events. I can remember spending some time thinking about nice-tasting non-alcoholic drinks and trying these out. I eventually decided that low-alcohol beers (the 0.5% kind) were nice enough for me, and acceptable to drink during Dry January.

I can remember, and am extremely grateful for, the excellent support I received from my wife, my family and my close friends (and the slightly less helpful support of work colleagues in some cases!). I also remember the daily encouraging emails from the Dry January campaign. And, of course, the health benefits; good sleep, a calmer outlook on life, and I was somehow more able to concentrate on things better.

I can remember, and am extremely grateful for, the excellent support I received from my wife, my family and my close friends… I also remember the daily encouraging emails from the Dry January campaign. And, of course, the health benefits; good sleep, a calmer outlook on life, and I was somehow more able to concentrate on things better.

I got to 1 February and went back to having a drink every now and then. The noticeable difference now, almost a year later, is that I drink much less, and certainly not every night as I did before. My health and well-being are both better, and it is very rare nowadays for me to 'overdo' it with drink. All in all, a worthwhile exercise, which I will be doing again.

Would I ever wilfully give it up altogether? I think not, unless there was a very pressing reason - for me, evenings at the pub or someone's house for a party are part of the enjoyment of life, though I am full of admiration for people who do stop altogether.

The noticeable difference now, almost a year later, is that I drink much less, and certainly not every night as I did before. My health and wellbeing are both better, and it is very rare nowadays for me to 'overdo' it with drink. All in all, a worthwhile exercise, which I will be doing again.