“Failing to plan is planning to fail“
– Benjamin Franklin
Welcome to Dryuary! This is the first day and, like every beginning, it’s going to be both easier and harder than any other day that follows.
It’s easier because you’re fresh to the effort and have lots of energy. But it’s harder because there’s a long way to go until the end and there’s so much to do and learn before it’s over.
I’m going to set you up for the 31 days ahead with some thoughts about preparing for your journey. Just like the quote says, you’re going to need some kind of plan.
I won’t tell you how to make your plan, but it’s something that you’ll want to think about today. You want to begin as you mean to go on. I’ll tell you how my plan is going to work, though, and hopefully you’ll find it useful in some way in making your own plan.
Step 1 is to remove my favorite alcohol from my home.
I know from experience that I have a different relationship with rum than I do with anything else. While I won’t be tempted by anything else, it will make the next 31 days go by much faster if this isn’t sitting around. I’ve often contemplated breaking up with rum because I know I feel differently about it, but so far I haven’t found it necessary just yet. For this month though, I’m gifting a quarter bottle still sitting in my home to a friend so I have the peace of mind I want for the month.
Step 2 is to give myself distractions.
The witching hour for me is in the evening hours when I want to relax from my day. I drink moderately these days, after doing some hard work a few years ago, but my baseline pattern has stayed with me and that’s what I like to re-set during Dryuary. I drink most often at home, on my own, in the evening. The best thing to do to break up my habits is to not allow myself to be at home, on my own, in the evening. To that end, I asked for gift cards to the movies for the holidays and now have a stash of credit to go out at night. I’ve also asked my friends to make dates with me to go and browsed through some listings of things I want to see. My gym membership is also renewed and I’m making a workout plan for my evenings as well. All told, I’ll be spending about half my evenings at the movies or the gym, and far removed from the boredom or habit that might overtake me at home.
Another part of this is giving myself little redirections for those times when I feel like drinking. I have finally found a non-alcoholic beer that I like, and I’ve stocked up on it. This way, if I feel the urge or habit to reach for a drink on the nights when I’m home, I can gently redirect myself to reach for that instead. My goal is to soothe myself with the rituals of relaxation that I enjoy, but minus the alcohol that’s usually involved. I like bitter tasting drinks, not sweet ones, so this is a good substitute for me. But I’m going to re-evaluate this part of my plan mid-month because I think I might get a bit bored. Maybe trying out some nice mocktail recipes will be better instead? I’m not sure, so I’ve made a note to check in with myself as the month progresses and see if this is really helping me or not.
Step 3 is having support.
Every time I do Dryuary, I ask a friend to be available to call or text if I felt I needed support. I once had a friend offer to join me in abstaining whenever we would spend time together, which was both surprising and very touching because it meant that if I went out socially, I’d have at least one person with me who also wasn’t drinking. Little gestures like that are a real boost.
Every time I take a break from drinking, I also find that writing about it is incredibly helpful to me. It’s part of why I volunteered to write a few posts this month. I also get support from checking in daily with the Dryuary emails as well.
If you find writing helps you too, try keeping a journal for the month. If you want, you can also post it publicly (so please use a pen name and don’t use your work email to sign up!) at Moderation Management members’ hub at members.moderation.org.
Even though I’ve gotten quite good at moderating my intake, it’s still unusual for me to not drink at all for a month, and it’s going to be a challenge. I think it’s very powerful to approach such challenges with the understanding that I’m not alone. I may find it awkward or even painful at times to do this, but my struggle is not unlike what many other people face. Knowing this, I don’t feel so alone with my feelings. Finding community and connection calms those feelings so they aren’t so overwhelming.
Between these simple steps, I’m hopeful that I can do this and learn something about myself along the way. What about you? Are you feeling ready? Do you have a plan? I hope you find some inspiration here and throughout the month to give you support and hope for a successful Dryuary.
Post Submitted by: Jonathan
Jonathan M. Langley is the author of Re-think Your Drinking: 5 practical tips to cut back on alcohol