January might be coming to an end, but for many of us, it’s just the beginning.
Whether you went 31 days without a drink or had to start over a few times (that’s okay, too!), you may be interested in taking your Dry January experiment further. But what’s the next step? Sure, you know that you can just keep going into February and beyond, but knowing exactly how to do it can help you be successful in achieving your alcohol-free goals.
Whatever your intentions or reasons were for taking a break from alcohol during Dry January, here are some tips to bring these learnings into February and beyond.
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Here are some tips to keep dry January going into the rest of the year.
1. Repeat this affirmation, “I am proud of the work I have done.”
Whether you avoided alcohol altogether or not, you’ve still done important work that you should be proud of. Simply questioning your drinking is a huge first step!
No matter how many alcohol-free days you have logged, let’s first take a step to pause and congratulate ourselves on the work. When we live in a society that constantly pushes alcohol as a coping mechanism, as a way to celebrate, and as a way to relax, it’s an incredible feat to pause and say… Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right. So take a moment and recognize what you have done here. Whether this is your first Dry January or your 5th, going beyond this is a whole new goal, but don’t be afraid to celebrate the old goals, too.
2. Reconnect to your intentions.
Why did you want to take a break from alcohol to begin with? Was it affecting your sleep, your relationships, your finances? How have these areas improved in the past 31 days?
Take a minute (or an afternoon) and sit down to journal or even just think about how these past 31 days have gone for you. What areas of your life have improved? What has been more difficult? How have you felt in your body? What change are you happiest with? Reviewing how the month went and remembering why you did it in the first place will help propel you to continue.
3. Investigate what was difficult about taking a break.
Was cutting out alcohol more difficult than you expected? In what ways? Was anything about this surprising? How can you get more support in these areas?
As part of your journaling in #2, make sure you don’t leave out the difficult parts either. Was it your birthday and you decided to take a day “off” of Dry January? Did you have a hard time not drinking during times of high stress? Really examine the difficult parts to figure out what you can do differently going forward. Do you need to set up more support systems? Not have alcohol in the house anymore? Get a sober buddy? Whatever you struggled with, it’s important to figure those things out as you go forward.
4. What new coping tools can you bring into the rest of the year?
Did you reconnect to childhood hobbies? Spend more time exercising? Connect more with friends or family? What new coping tools can you take with you into February? Didn’t add any new tools? What can you try moving forward?
When you do your review of what was great and what wasn’t about your Dry January, it is also good to make a list of all of the things that you tried that were new or that you spent more time doing now that you were not drinking. Whether that list is short or long, this can be a great guide for the kind of things that you can do in February and beyond to fill up your time without alcohol or replace old, destructive habits. Make sure to put the list somewhere visible, and start adding to it as you continue your alcohol-free journey.
5. Get support!
Many folks do Dry January on their own, which can feel isolating. But you're not alone! So many people are questioning their drinking, just like you. There are many online communities that offer support.
One of our favorite places to connect with other sober folx is on Instagram, where you can follow young folx, sober women, LGBT folx, sober women of color, and Black recovery advocates. You can also find community through online groups and even form your own! One of the key things here, though, is that you have to be proactive about finding support — which means being honest about your decision to go alcohol-free. If you’re not ready to do that IRL, follow us on Instagram to find a like-minded community.
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We know that Dry January isn’t easy but few truly good things for you come simply. If you are ready to see where else this alcohol-free journey can take you, then you know to keep going. Need support along your sobriety journey? Tempest is here to help! Click here to learn about our membership options.
Tempest is a membership program that empowers you to live alcohol-free. Through support, community, and a dedicated staff, we’ll teach you how to make small, realistic changes to build a foundation for the kind of life you want. Learn more.
In a study done in partnership with the University of Buffalo and Syracuse University, Tempest members reported a 50% reduction in their symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (problematic drinking) and a 25% reduction in the severity of anxiety and depression symptoms.