Dry January has taken Ireland by storm (pun very much intended) in recent years, with many opting to steer clear of the beer in favour of non-alcoholic drinks or staying out of the pub entirely.
Recent statistics from Drinks Ireland have shown a decline in the amount of people drinking these days, and many pundits have pointed to a cultural shift, the cost of living, and even post-Covid self-preservation as reasons for this. But one thing is for certain – more and more people are opting for 0.0% beers, and even more are quitting the beer entirely.
The sale of non-alcoholic beers tripled between 2017 and 2021, from 1.79 million to 5.55 million litres sold within that timeframe. The same stats showed that overall alcohol consumption was down 33% over the last 20 years.
And this radical change is perhaps best seen in the volume of people choosing to take part in Dry January, an annual detox for some, but the gateway to a different way of living for others.
However, Ireland’s drinking culture is still so embedded in our day-to-day that it can be difficult to avoid, even with the best intentions. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place, just in case the will begins to wane or the force of habit begins to take hold.
Here are a list of considerations if you are currently taking part in Dry January.
Find a substitute.
If drinking is a part of your end-of-week ritual, for instance, then Dry January may be more of a challenge than you first thought. Humans are creatures of habit, and as such, we have a hard time breaking away from those habits we create for ourselves. This is why it’s important to fill up that empty space, or that empty glass, with a substitute that won’t upset the ebb and flow of your week.
Instead of buying a cocktail after work on Friday, why not try a juice substitute (otherwise known as a ‘mocktail’)? Or join the many thousands who are now drinking 0.0% beers. Some pubs will even offer you a free 0.0% beer on the house if you’re the designated driver.
Or if you’d rather stay out of the pub entirely, why not embrace the great outdoors and explore Co. Wicklow on your weekends. Which brings us to our next tip.
Get active, get outdoors.
There’s no better way to tackle Dry January than by getting physical and refreshing your spirit with the sights and sensations of the great outdoors. As you’re already well-aware, Co. Wicklow is a treasure trove of outdoor experiences, with hiking trails and nature reserves running all throughout the veins of the county.
Make a point of visiting places such as The Powerscourt Waterfall or The Woodenbridge World War 1 Memorial. Throw on a coat and hat and walk along the Roundwood Reservoir, or hike up The Sugarloaf on a day when the sun peers out through the clouds. There’s so much to do in Wicklow outside of the pub, and it’s all there for free.
Join a group chat.
Set up a group chat between friends and family who are also going dry this January. This is the perfect way to hold yourself accountable while also reminding yourself that you’re not doing this alone and that those closest to you are also facing their own set of challenges. Exchange tips, give encouragement, and make plans that will keep you on the straight-and-narrow throughout the month, and maybe even well into the future.
Avoid the cans.
Are the leftover cans from Christmas calling your name from the fridge? While it may seem blasphemous to some, your best bet might be to empty those cans into the sink, or gift them to someone else. Temptation can weigh heavily on your shoulders the best of times, and having cans or bottles readily available in your home could be detrimental to your Dry January journey.
Think of the gains.
If temptation becomes too much to handle, simply remind yourself why you’re taking part in Dry January in the first place. Think of the money you’ll have saved by the end of the month. Think of how much healthier you’ll look come February 1st, with clearer skin and a spring in your step. And perhaps most of all, think of all the hobbies and interests you’ve picked up or rediscovered over the course of the month. There’s plenty of gain from taking part in Dry January – just make sure to remind yourself if you feel your back is against the wall.
Best of luck to you all!