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Dry January: worth a shot?

Kofo Ajala reflects on the challenges of an alcohol-free January following an indulgent Christmas break.

By Kofo Ajala, Third Year, History

Kofo Ajala reflects on the challenges of an alcohol-free January following an indulgent Christmas break.

Dry January was harder than I thought. December was undeniably filled with celebration and drinking. Christmas, New Year and my twenty-first birthday all fell within this festive month. And following this boozy hedonist season, my liver and I decided that Dry Jan might just be the sort of break that my new and fresh 2020 self would need.

Don’t get me wrong, my December escapades don’t really reflect my typical drinking habits. With party after party, this social butterfly really did spread her wings a bit more than usual. Plus, it was my birthday month which seemed reason enough to let loose and let the drinks fly. This is especially true since most of the gifts I received this year were some kind of alcoholic beverage, so I currently have a much larger stock pile of alcohol than I can usually afford in other months. But, even still, Dry Jan seemed like the best thing to do to flush out all the shenanigans of 2019.

Epigram/ Emma Bayley-Melendez

For me, Dry January was more about discipline than anything else. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy a drink or two in the evening, living out my middle-aged fantasy at the end of a long day. It wasn’t necessarily a desire to break out of a habit, rather just that I could prove I had little issue in creating new ones. I’m not really one for big New Years Resolutions but I always thought that there would be something really gratifying about being able to say that I stuck with this for a whole month.  Plus, after being inspired by Leah Martindale’s  “Sober October” article, I felt like now was the time to really test my discipline.

The first week of January was probably the most obvious obstacle for me. The season celebrations hadn’t completely come to a halt yet so I was still going out to bars and small gatherings where I would usually enjoy having a drink or two. It wasn’t that it was necessarily hard to say no to drinking. It was more that as a social drinker I’m quite used to having a rum and coke in my hand. It just helps to get the conversation flowing a bit more and loosen up my anxieties when I’m with big crowds of people. Plus, when everyone else around you is drinking it admittedly becomes a lot harder to shake the feeling of wanting one too.

Epigram/ Emma Bayley-Melendez

After the first week of Dry January I was back in Bristol, continuing with exam preparation as well as working on some applications and my dissertation. Even though there were less occasions that would have called for a drink compared to the beginning of the month, it was still difficult to deny myself one. It’s awfully cliché but at the end of a long and stressful day, sometimes all you want to do is lie on the couch with a cold a drink and watch some TV. The January revision season has always been really hard on me mentally so I like to enjoy the little rewards I give myself when I can. And with an abundance of trash TV flowing in courtesy of Winter Love Island, the temptation was truly there. Some chamomile tea was just going to have to do!

Overall, I’ve come to the end of my Dry Jan journey and I am proud of myself. It’s definitely not the biggest sacrifice ever but my body and my wallet did get the rest that they needed, and I would definitely try doing it again. Until then, I need a drink.

Featured: Epigram/Emma Bayley-Melendez

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