When thinking of New Year’s resolutions each year, you wouldn’t be the first to say you should drink less. After the merry extravagance of Christmas it’s the ideal time to cut back to feel better, but does it really work? Are the benefits all they’re made out to be?
We spoke to Janet MacKechnie, a young professional determined to make some positive changes in 2016.
It’s January: you’re back at work, wishing the weeks away until payday and bored after Christmas festivities. We wouldn’t blame you for thinking January a depressing time to give up alcohol, but Janet has other thoughts.
“I disagree, it’s a good time to draw a line and look after yourself. It’s quieter so you can get your head down. What a great time to have a clear head and set some goals for the coming year. “
It’s a journey, not a race
“For the first week I felt like it was boring and I was just tired. But by the time you get into your second and third week you gain momentum and it just feels normal.”
Janet described Dry January, from charity Alcohol Concern, as a combination of ‘boring’ at first but then ‘elating’, describing benefits like getting to sleep and waking up more easily before work.
She says, “I feel more productive and proactive. In fact, generally I think I’m more positive and upbeat.”
Does not drinking affect your social life?
“It’s the weekends that can be boring. I’ve turned down invites to things because I’m not feeling the soda and lime vibes,” she said and explained that you realise quite how many of your social plans are based around drinking.
However, having the time to focus on you can be really positive. Janet told us she’s even signed up for a half marathon in her Scottish home town in April.
“It does free up time to get other things done. I’ve been cleaning out my house which I’ve been meaning to do and I’ve got back into running which I really enjoy.”
Can it make you feel healthier?
Evidence shows that cutting back on alcohol can lead to a healthier you, but how does that feel in practice? Janet explained that it was actually her metabolism that felt most improved:
“It just feels like my metabolism is more stable, like I don’t want to snack so often. Then when I do snack on cake or biscuits it feels more guilt-free because I haven’t had a drink. It’s more of a treat.”
Is it a struggle to stay motivated?
Drinkaware provides lots of information on how to stay motivated to achieve your New Year’s goals. Janet says the motivation stems from how you feel and the extra time you gain to be productive and achieve what you really want to in 2016.
Does this mean you should continue to cut back?
Janet told us she feels positive about Dry January and would recommend the process to friends, but believes the challenge will be continuing to cut back over the next few months.
She says, “This is the challenge. I’ve said, in February, I’d like to limit my drinking to 3 nights a week within the UK government’s new alcohol unit guidelines – but I think this could be harder than complete abstention.”
“If you cut out alcohol completely then the boundaries are clear and you know you can’t have a drink, but if you have just one or two then it’s easier to get carried away in the moment with friends and good conversations.”
This is where Drinkaware can help
Throughout the year, Drinkaware is full of ideas on how to cut down on your drinking to limit the harm to both your physical and mental health. You can use the Drinkaware: Track & Calculate Units App to track your drink-free days, calorie intake and how much you’re spending on alcohol too.
Let’s toast some mocktails to a happy and productive 2016.