Mindful Monday: Drink, Drank, Drunk & Dry in January

12 Days of Sobriety: 12 Tips for Mindful Sobriety 

I find the notion of ‘dry January’  both interesting and absurd. Interesting because I see many people use this month to reset and reflect, re-prioritize and shift their drinking habits. Absurd because it follows a month of excessive imbibing and often simply serves as a ‘time-out’ from continued, excessive drinking. On February 1st, if one makes it 31 days, the excessive drinking is re-established. Today is Day 20… so, including today, there are still 12 days left in the month. The purpose of this blog is to offer some tips and ideas for making those 12 days of sobriety more intentional and valuable. Cheers!

1. Reflect on ‘Why’

Take time to reflect on why you are choosing sobriety for January. It might be a ‘fad’, but chances are, you personally had a good reason to take on this challenge. Stay mindful of your ‘why’, stay committed for 12 more days and give it 100%.

2. Try New Things

Take advantage of this time to try out some new hobbies, new activities, new coping skills. Drinking can take up a lot of time for people and using this time mindfully to try new things is certainly a gift you can give yourself. If you are an evening drinker, consider using your free time to try something creative – cook, play music, paint or engage more with your family – watch movies, play a board game, or use this time to exercise – take a walk, go to the gym, take a yoga class!

3. Try New Beverages

This is a great time to shake it up and try new beverages – non-alcoholic of course! Kombucha, Sparkling Coffee, Sparkling Water, Ginger Beer, are just a few non-alcoholic refreshing beverages. I encourage folks to stay away from non-alcoholic beers and wines as they often trigger the urge or craving for the real thing! Just pay attention to the sugar content of many of these beverages!

4. Be Curious About Triggers

This is a critical time to pay attention – be MINDFUL – of when you are missing alcohol, when do you crave it/want it/think about it/dream about it? Often, there are habits people are used to and crave alcohol during those times – evening rituals, weekend rituals, etc. Drinking is also a coping strategy for anger, sadness, grief, or really, any discomfort. Notice what is your trigger. Mindfulness is the practice of ‘noticing’ and paying attention in the moment to your thoughts, feelings and sensations. Practice mindfulness during this time and, going forward, you will have more choice and intention about whether you drink or not, or how much you drink, when you drink, or why you are drinking!

5. Read About Sobriety & Listen to Podcasts

This is a great opportunity to read about sobriety, alcohol  use, addiction, and habits. Here are some of my top book recommendations:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  – great book about habits and patterns

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray – great kindle book and journal

This Naked Mind:Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life by Annie Grace

Woman of Substances: A Journey into Addiction and Treatment by Jenny Valentish

The Gift of Recovery by Rebecca Williams, PhD and Julie Kraft, MA – lots of great tips for mindfulness and coping in sobriety

and top Podcast recommendations:

Recovery Elevator

The Bubble Hour

Sober Insights

She Recovers

That Sober Guy

This Naked Mind

6. Reflect on What You Want to Change

Use this sober time to be mindful about what you want your relationship to be with alcohol going forward. What needs to change? Habits? Social activities? Friends? Coping strategies?

7.  List Your Wins

What is working? How have you done for the first third of January? What are your WINS? Make sure to acknowledge your successes, changes you’ve made and hurdles you’ve overcome!

8. List Your Losses

What isn’t working? Have you drank, despite your commitment to dry January? If you haven’t drank, but you are miserable, what isn’t working? What can you change in the next 12 days to enjoy your sobriety? Learning from your mistakes and making changes is a powerful, mindful approach to life.

9. Who Supports You?

Who is your team? Who is supporting you on this adventure to stay dry in January? Who has your best interest at heart? Do you have people in your life who will tell you when you’ve had enough, when you need some help or people who give you kudos for making changes in your life? If staying sober has been a challenge for you or you find yourself ‘chomping at the bit’ for February 1st, you might want to consider talking to someone – a therapist or a friend in recovery? You deserve to be surrounded by people who support you in being your best self!

10. Practice Meditation

Practicing meditation or trying a mindfulness exercise is a great gift you can give yourself this month. Mindfulness teaches you to pay attention, in the moment. Mindfulness encourages curiosity, not judgment. Mindfulness and mediation in general teach you to pause, reflect and breathe. Give yourself the gift of self care this month!

11. Celebrate Your Success

As January comes to a close, celebrate your wins! Now, here’s the kicker….CELEBRATE SOBER. Do something extra-ordinary, novel, exciting and fun – SOBER – to celebrate your wins. You’ve got this! Having options to celebrate without alcohol (or other drugs) is critical for a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.

12. What’s Next? Mindfully Set Intentions

Rather than falling right back into old patterns and habits in February, I encourage you to mindfully set an intention around your drinking or continued sobriety. What do you want for yourself? How do you want to show up in your life? What do you want your relationship to be with alcohol? Who is in charge? What do you need to do to stay in charge, be mindful, and be present? I encourage you to write down your intentions for yourself and share them with others. If you need more accountability, consider joining an accountability group (email me for more information), support group or therapy.