“The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.” ~Wallace Wattles
In all my years of drinking, I never thought I’d hear myself suggesting a Dry December. Nor could I have predicted that the month I’d eventually decide to embrace my sober curiosity would be the holiday month.
Before I decided to give an alcohol-free lifestyle a chance, I had completed many Dry Januarys, occasional Sober Octobers, and even one Dry July. (Dry July was the hardest for me because I really felt like I was alone in trying to embrace that one.) But now I see any month as a great choice to choose less alcohol and see the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits in all their glory.
Here is what really helped me in my very first Dry December and some pieces of advice that might help you too.
1. I recognized that within my social calendar at the time, December was the booziest month of the year, and I decided that if I could successfully complete December without a drink, then all other months of the year would be easy in comparison. The same could be true for you.
December meant several office parties, neighborhood drinks, dinner parties with friends, nights in bars and restaurants with other friends, and then the Christmas Eve, Day, and Boxing Day entertaining. There were a lot of places to be, a lot of socializing to do, and with that came an expectation (both external and internal) to drink.
No wonder we are happy to talk about a Dry January—we’ve often had enough alcohol at that point! Aim to feel good about this holiday period without alcohol. You are not depriving yourself; you are doing yourself a huge favor.
2. December could really work for you from a goal/intention setting point of view. Why not rethink New Year resolutions and have year-end resolutions?
What if we started the upcoming year clearheaded, more emotionally stable, physically feeling better, and with more cash in our pockets? That would be an amazing start. If we’ve already tucked a sober month under our belts by the time Dry January comes around, we are going to be feeling like we’re one step ahead already.
3. You could use December to prepare yourself for the gentle wintering you might need.
Imagine enjoying the holiday break feeling relaxed and restored. I know it sounds strange, but it is possible, I promise. Some of my most relaxing Christmases have happened since being sober.
4. A Dry December could help you make the most of the season.
In the northern hemisphere, winter is for hunkering down. It’s about cozy fires and warm blankets. It’s also the time for bracing walks in the fresh air. It’s a delight in color and texture. A break from drinking means no hangovers, which means you’re better able to enjoy the season.
5. You can treat yourself with the money saved from not drinking.
Get into a new habit of spending your alcohol money on what you might want or really need. Is it a monthly massage? Is it some delicious alcohol-free drinks? How about a personal trainer? What about a new book? Or a sober coach for support? You are worth every single penny. Spend it wisely.
6. Discover alternative drinks to your usual holiday favorites.
There is an array of wonderful non-alcoholic options available. Whether it’s experimenting with mocktails, alcohol-free beers or gins, infused waters, herbal teas, or flavorful juices, you’ll find alternatives that will still allow you to enjoy a long cold drink without the added toxins.
Use your fancy glass, get the ice, and chink your glasses. The atmosphere, the people, and the conversation matter so much more than what is in your glass.
7. Create new traditions and rituals.
Replace your drinking Christmas traditions with new ones. Traditions come and go, they change at various points in our lives, and that’s a lovely thing to embrace.
8. If you are finding December to be emotionally charged, seek out previously tested ways to soothe yourself and/or experiment with some new ways.
Perhaps you could explore some new and different communities for support. This really helped me during my first Dry December.
9. Use Dry December as an excuse, if you need one, for friends and family.
Say you’re joining a revolution and reclaiming December as a month without excess alcohol as a fierce act of rebellion! You can say I’m taking a break because NOW is as good a time as any. Then gently roll into Dry January feeling altogether calmer, more peaceful, and empowered.
10. Find and take note of all the positive glimmers as you go through the month.
Use a journal or an app on your phone to keep a record. Does your brain fog lift a bit? Are you sleeping more deeply? Do you notice you have a few extra hours in your week? Do your eyes look a bit brighter? Where can you see the benefits? Use those pieces of great news to propel you further through the month.
When Dry January rolls around you’ll feel like an expert, and your friends and family may even ask you for advice and tips. Enjoy the ripple effect!