You guys, happy February! I’ve never been this stoked for a new month. You see, we decided to participate in “Drynuary,” which means we essentially stopped drinking for an entire month. January 2017 has been… grueling, to say the least. What a month to take go on a wine hiatus. But it wasn’t all bad; I learned a LOT about myself, my habits, and how I practice self-care in general. A lot of you were really encouraging (especially on Instagram where I was most vocal/complain-y), so I thought a recap of sorts was a good idea.
I am a creature of habit. Quite honestly, I was totally blown away by exactly how much of a habit that glass of red was at the end of the day. Patterns became more noticeable: if the news was upsetting, I wanted wine. If I had a stressful day at the studio, I wanted wine. I became aware that I got straight up CRANKY at times, whining at Sean and moping. I wouldn’t call this withdrawal, but instead growing pains as I sought ways to self-soothe that didn’t include alcohol.
Finding a healthy replacement behavior is key. At first and without realizing it, I replaced drinking with eating… not exactly ideal. Right away, I noticed that my sweet tooth got more and more demanding. Upon noticing this, I stocked the fridge with my berries and clementines which helped a lot. I also put more effort in the dinners that I prepared for us. I noticed that I really enjoy cooking and spent more time doing that activity, almost like engaging in nesting behavior. I also tried to swap out my nightly glass of wine for long soaks in the tub. This was somewhat short lived because I developed an adverse reaction to the epsom salts I was using, so I had to cut back on this. I also did WAY more face masks during the month off from drinking.
The changes were subtle. Honestly, I thought I’d feel amazing right away: that I’d sleep better, feel more rested, have better skin, have less of a tummy pooch. But no. I’ve always had trouble sleeping, so I guess it’s no surprise that I still wasn’t a great sleeper, even if I wasn’t drinking. I also didn’t really notice an improvement in my skin or body shape because at first I was replacing wine with gummy bears (true story). Once I’d gotten the eating reigned in more, I still didn’t drop inches or weight which, honestly, was kind of frustrating.
Going out is hard. Every Friday, Sean and I go to our local bar and indulge in a few cocktails, tater tots, and burgers. During Drynuary, we went once and it was TORTURE. I didn’t want to drink soda and found that most mocktails were just vehicles for shitloads of sugar. I’m much more of a ‘savory’ drinker, preferring whiskey drinks and dry red wine, so sugary mocktails were a tough sell for me. I struggled to find a less-sweet alternative, to be honest. Because of this, we stayed in more which had a really nice benefit: we saved a lot more money!
Stuff feels more… real. I’m sort of an emotional ostrich. I like to hide my feelings and stick my head in the sand instead of facing whatever is bugging me… and a lot of shit is bugging me right now thanks to our country’s new “leadership.” Without the ability to drown my sorrows in a glass (read: bottle) of red on Inauguration Day, I really struggled to take care of myself. I made it through, but it felt like my emotions were extremely overwhelming because I couldn’t easily numb myself.
This is the first time I’ve ever tried something like this. I’m really proud of myself for making it most of the way through. Confession: I had 2 drinks at an event on Monday because it was at a bar I’d always wanted to try. I think this exercise has really helped me to evaluate what drinking means to me and inspires me to pause a bit more before ordering another round. Truth be told, I did notice differences in how I felt after those 2 drinks on Monday night: my mouth tasted kinda funny the next morning and I was more sluggish when it was time to get out of bed. This has been a really interesting experiment for me, for sure!
Have you ever taken a month off from drinking? I’d love to hear how it was for you!
Photography by Meghan Klein.