Lessons Learned from a Dry January

I don’t remember exactly how the conversation started about trying “Dryuary” (as it is often called) but it ended with a commitment to a month-long break from alcohol during the month of January. This was my first experience to ever declare a month quite like this but it seemed necessary. I had definitely indulged during the holidays and could probably use a little break. And it’s a lesson to remember for any time of the year, even after a vacation or trip when we tend to get out of routine and need to get back on track.

Here's how my Dryuary went.

  • I saved some money. I can’t say for sure how much money my husband and I saved without a good month of comparison data, but a quick accounting tells me that we spent less money at bars, dining out and purchasing alcohol to consume at home.

  • I ate a lot of sweets. I know. It's bad. But I love sweets. So, I used this opportunity to enjoy dessert at times when I would normally enjoy a drink. I felt this was a fair tradeoff. But because of this, I didn’t notice any weight loss. (Frowny face.)

  • There were some health benefits. The absence of alcohol lead to fewer occurrences of upset stomach. I also slept better at night. Overall, I felt better. I mean, I think we all know the negative effects of drinking and they only get worse as we age.e

  • My productively increased. When you feel good, you do more. It’s that simple. I found more time on the weekends to explore my interests and organize my home, the Christmas decorations and closets to fit my new Christmas presents. I also started this blog. Review the high and low points below and you'll see that by the end of the month, I was busy (noted by the repeated Ben Franklin quotes).

  • At times, I felt less creative. If I had to pick one reason why I missed drinking alcohol, it would be creativity. This might sound ridiculous, but after a long day, a drink helps me relax, process and reset my thinking. It wipes away the day and refreshes my creative thought process. The clarity is similar to my first cup of coffee in the morning.

    Some science supports this connection of alcohol to creativity, but that’s a post for another day. For now, I’ll leave you with this quote from Ernest Hemingway which summarizes a similar point of view, “When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day, what else can change your ideas and make them run in a different plane like whisky?” Thanks, Ernest. You and I both know this is thinking is right.

  • I am who I am with or without an alcoholic beverage. I'm very comfortable with myself and who I am. Dryuary was never an exercise to test that, but it was a way to confirm what I gravitated toward without the urge to drink socially or as an activity, and to see if it made a difference in my health, finances or how I managed my free time. And I think it mattered on all those points with enough impact to celebrate moderation every day. For that, I think Dryuary was a success.

A Few High and Low Points Throughout the Month

I wrote down little daily thoughts in a journal on my bedside table at night. Here’s a list of those thoughts.


In summary, humor and chocolate goes a long way during Dryuary.

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