Monday, 4 February 2019

Things I learnt from Dry January

Things I learnt from Dry January
glass diet coke bottle pouring into glass


2019 is my second Dry January. I completed it a few years ago, my attempt last year saw me through to day four (I went on a date and got pretty drunk, I make the best first impressions) but this year, I was determined to make it last.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think that much. I rarely drink at home so my alcohol intake is purely what you see on my Instagram. I don’t really remember seeing my parents drink all that much as I grew up, so I guess it’s a learned habit that even throughout university I didn’t break as I only drank when I was out. I think I’ve always been very conscious of my drinking habits and I’m very aware that I have a bit of an addictive personality, so it would be a very slippery slope to start drinking on an evening, especially as I live by myself.

When I go out, I go from one extreme to the other. I’ve had both great and shit nights out being anywhere from stone cold sober to absolutely mortal drunk, and I’d say for at least 90% of the nights out I’ve been to, they wouldn’t be made better by drinking significantly more or less. Whilst I always judge the severity of a hangover based on how much I drank, I don’t really tend to judge how good a night was based on my alcohol intake.

Going sober for a total of 37 days (!) was made easier by a) being ill on NYE so I didn’t go out and b) being unbelievably skint so going ‘out’ out wasn’t really on my radar. I took January as an opportunity to reset after a really busy end to 2018 and had a whole load of me-time. I had truly anti social weekends that I loved every second of and spent time being in with friends rather than out. I read a book in a day, I watched a lot of Netflix and I really enjoyed weekends that weren’t taken out by a monster hangover. It may sound dull af to some people but for me it was wholesome and time well spent that made my soul happy. This is how I need to spend more of my time as whilst I love going out, staying in brings me just as much joy.

It wasn’t until I was sober for a month that I realised how much of a dent drinking makes to my bank balance too. As I’m always out rather than in when I’m enjoying a drink or two, everything is at bar prices not supermarket, so a casual quiet night can easily be £20, and a night in the pub after work that escalates can be up to £50. If it’s a planned occasion, it can be a whole lot more once you’ve factored in a drunk takeaway followed by a hangover takeaway (don’t judge, we’ve all done it). Once you’ve done that a few times in a month, on top of your other social things, that’s a fairly hefty amount.

By giving up alcohol, I definitely had a bit more lee-way in a very strict January budget (LOL, guess which moron let their annual car insurance renew automatically rather than switch it to monthly payments on Christmas Eve, yep, this gal). It meant that I could buy my sister a decent birthday present, that I got to the end of the month and could still do my usual food shop, that I had petrol in my car and that the day before payday I had money left to do a last minute ASOS order. Alcohol was an easy sacrifice to make to ensure that other areas of my life weren’t that affected by my poor financial management.

Overall, I feel better for giving it up for so long and it’s definitely made me want to cut down on how frequently I drink. It’s not that there’s been a day to day difference really as I tend to drink in large quantities less often rather than a single drink more frequently, but having hangover-free weekends has made me appreciate downtime. I wrote a post about having no plans recently and I think it comes down to that – my mental wellbeing is better when I have headspace and without hangovers and messy nights out, it did me some good. Did I get a bit of fomo? Occasionally. Did I get more jomo (joy of missing out)? I got quite a lot of that actually, as whilst I love going out with my friends, I equally love sober time with them too.

And my final note on Dry January? You don’t lose your tolerance after a month off. I went ‘out’ out on February 1st and I wasn’t the absolute mess I expected to be.

Have you ever done Dry January? Have you tried but not finished? Let me know in the comments.

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