Dry January Update #3

I’m now in the final week of this challenge. And it’s fine. I’ve done it. My intention is strong. I’ll make it to the 31st and probably beyond. 

Last week was great because I had two opportunities to go to bars with friends and colleagues and . . . nothing - it was no problem at all. I had a [Lemmy] lemonade on a cool roof bar in Wellington, then lemon lime and soda in a tapas bar after a client workshop.

Everyone else drank alcohol but I didn’t feel like I needed to fit in - though admittedly at the tapas bar I did make a big point of saying I was having a Dry January. But that was mainly because I was missing out on a two-for-one margarita special - which was a little hard to explain.  And everyone, even the cocktail waitress, was supportive. 

[Was I making too big a deal of it? No - I was just being a little bit proud.]

Social Liberation

That was the interesting thing to me - I was just as upbeat and sociable without wine as I am when I do drink. Even though I am a little introverted when it comes to socialising, I realised a non-alcoholic drink works just as well as a cue to social behaviour.

The most refreshing thing was that there was no need to think about how much I’d drunk - whether one more would make me garrulous rather than chatty, or inappropriate rather than relaxed. And I didn’t have to monitor whether I was still fit to drive [a major limitation when I go out at home as I live on the outskirts of the city].

It felt quite liberating. 

However there have been times when I’ve wished for wine -  one or two quite stressful experiences in the last week or so. I’m in the process of getting my house ready to sell and it’s a little fraught sometimes. 

But I really want to be able to manage my stress myself.  Mindfulness has worked and so did treating myself to a movie, complete with popcorn and ice cream. I’m not sure a horror film would have done the trick - though on one level,  I guess you could consider The Big Short a horror film.

So what will I do at the end of the month? 

To be honest I’m not keen to go back to my previous behaviour. I would drink 2 glasses of wine most nights - it was hard for me to take a night off. At the weekend I might drink a little more - lunch as well. It added up to three bottles of wine a week every week.

I think that’s too much for me.

I loosely follow the Blue Zone diet, based on the foods eaten by specific long-lived groups of people around the world.  It’s not a losing weight diet but it’s associated with fewer health problems, which in turn can lead to greater longevity. 

Most of these long-lived groups of people do drink a little alcohol each day, but some don’t. So it’s obviously not an essential ingredient. Who knows? It may be its effect as a stress-reducing ritual that helps some of them. 

Happiness researcher and writer Gretchen Rubin has identified two primary modes of habit change - abstinence and moderation. Based on my experience with cigarettes and more recently with sugar, I think I’m more of an abstainer than a moderator. And since all alcohol is addictive, it feels like abstinence - except for reasons of celebration - might be a lot more convenient for me. 

What would you do? 

The final update will be in seven days - the end of January.