Dry January? Challenge Acceptedcsudhbulletin February 6, 2021 0 COMMENTS
The Dry January Challenge certainly lives up to its name this year, challenging those brave enough to forgo drinking alcohol in favor of healthier habits. Photo by Raven Brown.
By Raven Brown, Opinion Editor
Taking a break from alcohol for one month seemed like a great idea at first. I’m not a heavy drinker so I thought it would be an easy undertaking. Then came the chaos that is 2021 and it felt like a huge mistake. But instead of fighting it, I decided to immerse myself in the experience.
Dry January is one of those challenges that come around every year when people don’t want to commit to a New Year’s resolution and instead abstain from alcohol for one month. It’s meant to be a reset after all the holiday gluttony, but this year it was my way to detox from 2020 altogether. Being at home more than usual, I found myself consuming more alcohol to unwind from the daily stress and uncertainty of the world. The pandemic had me clinging to alcohol like Linus’ security blanket.
In the past, I have done this challenge as a way to push myself and evaluate my willpower, or lack thereof. This time was no different and my willpower was tested like never before. I got my boyfriend to do it with me, which was incredibly helpful. But as the month progressed, I found myself craving alcohol more and more. Just watching people on TV drink wine made me salivate.
As I said, I don’t drink excessively or feel the need to drink every day, but I knew it was time for a break so I could get my mind straight and my priorities in order. I wanted to wake up every day with a clear head so I could focus on getting back into a routine and into the gym.
Consuming alcohol comes with a whole slew of other issues, such as eating poorly and skipping my daily workouts. Not only that, but I would experience “hang-xiety” the morning after drinking, getting down on myself because I wasn’t being productive. Lying in bed all day, scarfing down McDonald’s from DoorDash, and binge-watching Netflix is not a sustainable way to live so I wanted to make a change.
It started off easy enough. My boyfriend and I went about our daily routines without thinking about our usual nightcaps. But after the first week, we couldn’t stop talking about how much we wanted to drink. “Just one beer to take the edge off,” we would say with a smirk.
The absurd news cycle didn’t help either. Our frustration surrounding the election weighed heavily on us and all we could think about was having a Coors Light to wash it all down. We’d become so accustomed to drinking as a way to unwind then having to remind ourselves of the commitment we’d made felt like a chore.
I wanted to wake up every day with a clear head so I could focus on getting back into a routine and into the gym.
It doesn’t sound like I’m selling the whole Dry January challenge, but there were definitely upsides. Saving money on my weekly grocery trips meant I could put more money away than usual. You don’t really think about how much money alcohol costs until you give it up for a period. And that extra money in my pocket didn’t go unnoticed.
Another benefit throughout this whole ordeal has been staying on track with consistently exercising. Towards the end of 2019, I started taking my workouts more seriously but with the stress of the pandemic, I started to veer off track. Alcohol played a part in that, so I felt my energy come back when I cut it out. My motivation to get back in the gym reminded me of why I started this challenge in the first place.
While Dry January is a hot topic at the beginning of the year, it’s not for everyone. Some people thrive regardless of their alcohol intake and find that it gives them something to look forward to at the end of a long day. Most of my friends laughed when I told them I was going to take a break, but I didn’t do this for them. I did it for myself; to prove that I could commit to something despite the hard days and external factors I would surely face.
Now, after a whole 31 days without alcohol, I can confidently say it was worth it. I did what I set out to do, felt the changes I wanted to feel, and gained a meaningful experience that I can draw from in the future. If anything, this challenge showed me that alcohol is a vice that I don’t need to rely on as often and I see that as a win.
I don’t plan to turn Dry January into Dry 2021, but I plan on cutting back my intake because of the positive changes I felt. But come Feb. 1, you better believe I will be cracking open a beer to celebrate my victory. I deserve it, right?