Whether you’re doing Dry January for a month, have gone alcohol-free, are drinking mindfully or just sober-curious, we list 12 fun, fulfilling and meaningful things to spend your time doing to cope with January, instead of boozing.
1. Find new friends
See the New Year as an opportunity to expand your friendship pool. There is nothing as energising as spending time with people that have similar interests. Join an evening class, find local groups, join meetup.com or Antidote or create your own group. Friendships based on interests other than drinking will not only fulfill you, but will also provide a platform to talk about your goals and to meet like-minded people. There are lost of organisations popping up to meet this need – so you are not the only one.
And of course, Club Soda organises socials across the UK and in Ireland, including our monthly LGBT+ socials in London, Queers Without Beers. You can find all Club Soda events listed here.
2. Rekindle old loves
Remind yourself of what you enjoyed when you were younger. You can use your new free time to rekindle old loves. Film, theatre, star gazing, drawing, walking … all are exciting, all are cheaper than a night on the tiles, and all are alcohol-free.
Cutting down on drinking and getting healthier go hand in hand, so why not get stuck into cooking the tastiest, healthiest meals you can find. Be that experimental cook and round the month off with a healthy dinner party.
4. Sober dancing
You can go dancing alcohol-free. There are lots of dance and conscious clubbing options around the country. You can see our favourite sober dance events here.
5. Reconnect with old friends
People drift away as you get older. Jump in the car or on a train and catch up with people you have not seen for a while. It is amazing how much you can fit into a weekend without a hangover! Even a short coffee after work with a work colleague (and a conversation you will remember the next day) will give you a spring in your step. Connecting with others should be joyful.
6. Make lists
From what makes you happy to things you always wanted to try. The experience of putting it all down on paper will provide you with the template for what to do the rest of the month. If you find that you are caught in a moment of wanting a drink and don’t know what to do, you can pull out one of your lists and pick something from it to distract you.
7. Spend time alone
There is a big difference between being lonely and being on your own. We all need private time to recharge, but may feel that this is not something we can have – when we have busy jobs and a family to care for, we are continually caught up in doing things for others. We often confuse time when we are alone for loneliness and boredom, and may reach for a drink. Swap the wine for some enriching solo activities and feel the benefits of being fully restored.
8. An early spring clean
An easy and satisfying way to signal you are changing is to clear the decks. It is about more than making space in your cupboards. Think about what you need and don’t need to take you closer to your goals.
9. Make stuff
Using your hands to make something, rather than holding a glass really does work. If knitting and crochet are not for you, then other things Club Soda members have taken up include DIY, picture framing, jigsaws, appliqué, upcycling furniture, and writing poetry.
Still annoyed by the potholes in your road, the state of the park, or the lack of mental health services? You can change things. Make this the month where you pick a cause, however big or small. Persistence takes a clear head and ditching the booze will mean your brain will want to engage with something a bit more taxing than normal.
I thought mindfulness was all about clearing your head, but the reality is very different. It gives you time and space to work through the emotions of the day and properly feel and manage them. If you are not using wine to stuff emotions away then this is the perfect practice to dedicate some time to. Try Headspace or Insight Timer, or find a local group to practice with others.
12. Train for a charity challenge
Many people use Dry January to raise funds for charity. There is nothing like focusing on something outside your comfort zone. Doing it for charity means you are accountable to a cause and your sponsors! I did the Yorkshire 3 peaks for Alzheimer’s and the Cross-Channel swim challenge for Aspire. Sign up for something amazing in the Spring to focus on now.
If you want not just cope with January, but to improve your health too, and need more ideas about how to do it, check out our blog on health resolutions that are more than just joining the gym or eating kale.