Dry January - Why I'm Doing it
Updated: Feb 29, 2020
After the indulgent festivities of December, I took it upon myself to give myself a bit of an alcohol-detox, dry January being a great excuse to do so.
I've had many comments about my decision to have an alcohol-break, many of which I understand, and many of which amuse me. Some people say I'm 'too young' to need a break from drinking, that drinking 'in moderation' is fine, and that January is depressing enough! The last one is definitely fair enough, but part of the reason I like the idea of dry January is because it is more of a challenge, and I love a challenge. I am a very determined person, so when I commit to something like giving up alcohol for a month, I will do it, no excuses.
First, you are never too young to take a break from drinking! Habits formed in your 20s have a way of sticking around for a long long time, and personally I do not want to get stuck in the habit of over-drinking frequently. Binge drinking among young people (particularly students) is overly normalised - it's just a bit of fun, exploring our youth and freedom, it's a laugh to get so drunk you can't remember what you did, where you went or how you got home... And I don't want a put a bummer on that, because I do love that feeling of completely letting loose. However, even though everyone knows drinking too much is bad for your health, the fact that alcohol is literally poison is brushed under the carpet, and people my age are pressured into binge drinking because it's viewed as a rite of passage, something entirely normal.
To respond to the 'moderation' comment, I would say that in general, people who drink, especially in Britain, have no sense of moderation. What does drinking moderately mean? Is it getting drunk 3 times a week? A few times a month? A year? Does it mean one or two drinks a night?
The NHS now recommend that we drink no more than 14 units a week. That's about 6 pints! I can imagine that most of us alcohol-drinkers have WAY more than that on average per week. We Brits are some of the biggest drinkers in the world, and while a bit of fun is 'harmless' there are so many adverse effects of alcohol that more should be done to try and reduce the amount we drink.
14 units is not a healthy minimum amount of alcohol, it's not a 'moderate' amount, it is the MAXIMUM, and ideally we should be drinking less than that!
I am definitely not saying that we should all stop drinking because it's going to kill us all, give us all cancer and liver disease. Many people binge drink throughout their life and have no serious health problems. If you enjoy a few bevvies then by all means continue. But I think more attention should be drawn to the everyday effects alcohol has on our body.
Did you know, that just one drink of an evening can prevent you from reaching REM sleep (i.e. deep sleep). So even if you're only having one or two glasses a night, even if it helps you get to sleep, you are preventing yourself from having a proper good night's kip that'll see you wake up in the morning refreshed and energised.
Another damaging impact alcohol can have is on mental health. While many of us seek a drink to cheer us up or calm us down, regular drinking actually worsens anxiety and causes low moods. You ever had a hangover and felt, mentally, awful the next day? Well, alcohol being a depressant, messes with the neurotransmitters in our brain that help us think clearly and make it work as it should, causing us to be more depressed. The more depressed you are, the more likely you are to drink...and you can see how the vicious cycle starts and never ends.
Personally, I don't consider myself alcohol dependent or a problem drinker, but I think taking a break is never a bad idea, and I do love to test my own will-power and prove to myself that I don't need to drink to relax. I also care about my health, a lot, and want to feel as good as I possibly can.
Sometimes, having a glass of wine is a form of self-care. Sometimes, having a break from drinking is also a form of self-care. Both of these statements are valid, should be respected,and both are healthy choices.
Now! I am not exactly fundraising this dry-January, as I have raised money before doing a similar challenge, however, I am planning on undertaking a few various challenges this year, and would love love love all the support I can get. I will write a blog soon with more details, and will eventually set up a fundraising page, but I am very excited about it all.
Thanks for reading thus far, and I hope I haven't made any alcohol-lovers feel bad! I just wanted to raise awareness to some of the facts and explain my choices this month.
Have a wonderful Tuesday and rest of the week all!