I never imagined it would be possible to complete Dry January, especially considering my lifestyle here in Dublin. But I can wholeheartedly say that not even a sip of alcohol has been consumed since New Year’s Eve (plus if you do not believe me, you can ask my friends :).

My will power has been put to the test with January being very bleak and perhaps, the most depressing month of the year. I often wanted to grab a pint after work, or have a glass of red wine before bed. But, I made the decision not to. And surprisingly enough, as the weeks went on, the alcohol free month became easier and easier. However, this past month was not entirely about sobriety; it was about examining things a bit closer. Alcohol was always my go to if I felt any bit of stress or anxiety, work related or not. On the contrary, it was also my go to when things were going great; any type of celebration or holiday.

Here are the main impacts of a completely alcohol free month. 

Financial Impact

This probably comes to no surprise to anyone, but it is a hell of a lot cheaper not to drink.  It did not take me long to realise this. During my first weekend of being “dry”, I found out that I could spend a fraction of what I normally would on a night out.  After the holidays, I met a friend at a local pub to catch up. We stayed there for approx. 3 hours and my bill at the end was 12 euros. If I had ordered drinks, I would have spent at least triple that amount, or more. Because let’s be honest, I most likely would not have stopped at just one drink.

I have more disposable income to use towards other things I enjoy in life, such as planning more trips within Europe and Ireland.  I do not feel guilty about treating myself to a nice brunch or dinner because I know that my weekends are significantly cheaper than they used to be. I can even save money to go back home for Canada’s 150th birthday in July!  I could get used to having extra cash in my pocket.

Emotional Impact

I wake up in the morning and feel ready to take on the day. I feel more alert, more organised, more dedicated to other things. I no longer wake up on weekends feeling like I could sleep all day. Monday mornings are a walk in the park now. The absolute worst was experiencing two day hangovers. Coming into work on a Monday and still feeling hungover by my Saturday night blitz was by no means a fun way to start my work week.

More significantly, I am learning to deal with emotions straight on. Drinking can be a quick fix to avoid feelings but here lies the issue. When you awake the next day, not only do you feel awful but more significantly, the same feelings still exist. Emotions, good or bad, are better to be fully experienced. The popular saying “This too shall pass…” could not be more true.

Health Impact

The health benefits are probably not all that shocking either. After 31 days of no alcohol, I have more energy, sleep better and overall my head feels clearer. I am consuming far less empty calories and naturally avoiding the greasy food that comes with treating a hangover. In combination of not drinking, I am also more focused on working out and eating healthy. So all this in combination, I can say that I have shed some holiday weight. Essentially, giving up one unhealthy item has made a direct impact on improving my overall health. There are likely more health impacts that are maybe not readily visible by the human eye. However, I can say for certain that my body has enjoyed this booze free vacation.

Now what?

I am richer, healthier and more emotionally stable, so clearly the consensus is that I should make this a lifestyle change and not ever drink. Wait a second….this scenario does not seem at all practical nor realistic.  You have to put this into context. Drinking was the highlight of my week (mainly because of the social aspect); I drank 2-3 times per week. However, I know that this entire month would be a complete waste of effort if I went back to these old habits. Consuming alcohol should be done in moderation, just like everything else in life (lightbulb moment, right?). No but seriously, enjoying life really does go further than relying on alcohol to have a good time. And this month taught me that.

We truly are stronger than we think. The way in which we respond to our surroundings, adapt to change and our abilities to make ourselves successful. You can do anything you put your mind to.

Tonight I will go enjoy a glass of red wine, or a cold pint, or a hot whisky…but of course, will do so in moderation!