Dry January needn’t be Dull

I read Cathy Adams’ article article in the Sunday Times (29th Jan 2023) with interest. I recommend it to all who have done a dry January. She loves alcohol and drinks to reward herself at the end of a stressful day. Who doesn’t? But she found the month difficult.

I also embarked on a dry January. (The first day was the hardest.) Christmas had been good in every way. I spent time with my family in the USA, we ate, drank and were merry. Definitely, a case of excess consumption. Returning to the UK, acutely jet-lagged, I felt sluggish, with my brain in constant fourth gear trying to go up a hill. As a writer, it gave me dark thoughts: am I dying? do I have dementia? will I ever be able to string a coherent sentence together again?. This was followed by another thought: I must give up alcohol! Quickly followed by: Oh God how awful! If I give up my daily wine, will life be worth living?

Despite the picture on my website, showing me smiling with a large glass of something alcoholic, I am not an alcoholic. (I don’t intend to belittle people who have a genuine alcohol demon). But I am addicted to a daily decent glass of wine and everything associated with vineyards. Wine tasting, wine buying, identifying new bottles of wine. It’s one of life’s pleasures – closely followed by cheese and chocolate. However, I also love creative writing, researching and working out the plots of a novel. And for that I need a sharp brain.

So I focussed on the other things I enjoy. I started each day with a lovely cup of tea and a different variety of cheese on oatcakes. I finished each day with a mug of hot chocolate, or herb teas and cubes of different types of chocolate. I didn’t lose much weight, but, unlike the journalist, I didn’t experience anything negative. In fact, I forgot I was on a dry and enjoyed sitting down to write all the more for having a clear head.

A dear friend who is a nurse told me that the liver needs six weeks to refresh itself. I intend to be dry until mid February. And then I’ll see about quantities and occasions.

Anyone can do this. I’m not possessed of strong willpower. The trick is, instead of focussing on what you’re missing, build in new treats. Cathy Adams said our problem is the amygdala, that bit of your brain that craves a treat. Apparently it is very childlike. So feed your inner child and have a good detox at the same time. Anyone for a mug of hot chocolate?

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