My ‘damp’ January diary

Written by Alana McKenna

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Back in December, I decided I’d give Dry January a try for 2023. Throughout January, I kept a diary, taking note of how I felt and what I did at events where I’d usually find myself drinking. It ended up being a ‘damp’ month, where I had a few drinks when I fancied them, but never went overboard.

I don’t believe in restriction and feel that a mindset around balance and listening to your body is far more rewarding, so that’s exactly what I did! I tried (and thoroughly enjoyed) new alcohol-free drinks and also enjoyed some alcoholic drinks on a few occasions, feeling that i’d much rather adopt a lifestyle that I can keep with me beyond January, rather than restricting myself for a month, only to go back to old habits!

And with that, here’s my 2023 ‘damp’ January diary…

Monday 2nd January: It was my boyfriend’s birthday and given most people were still recovering from new years antics, he decided to have a night in with friends, food and drinks rather than venturing out somewhere. 

I brought a couple of Lucky Saint’s along with me and was very impressed (I’ve since ordered a crate which I’m making my way through!) with the taste and quality. I joked that I felt a bit tipsy at the end of the night, which I obviously wasn’t – perhaps post Christmas delirium or placebo, but I strangely felt like I’d actually had a couple!

Tuesday 3rd January: Decided to set a few goals for 2023…I’d seen a TikTok of somebody writing their goals for the year on bottles of Prosecco and popping them open throughout the year when they were achieved. Thought it was a fun idea so I replicated it with beer, including a mix of alcohol and AF beers, as I’m conscious of reducing the link between celebrating and a need for alcoholic drinks.

Friday 6th January: Got lucky with some last minute tickets to see Fred Again and celebrated with a Lucky Saint towards the end of the working day! Grabbed a single white claw for the train journey, a moment to note as part of my ‘damp’ attitude, previously it would be typical to grab four to have on the way and drink them as quickly as possible.

When we got to the venue, I got a cider and that was the final drink of the night! I found that even with the alcoholic drinks I did go for, I steered more towards the lower 4% options, rather than high ABV spirits. It was nice to have a couple of drinks just because I felt like it, rather than drinking to get drunk. I definitely could have gone without too, but as i’ve referenced, for me it’s all about balance, and restriction is a slippery slope that doesn’t work very well for me!

Friday 13th January: As it neared the end of the working day I grabbed a Lucky Saint, which is becoming a bit of a habit and a nice way to create the weekend vibes without drinking actual alcohol and losing my focus!

In the evening, I went for dinner round my friend’s house and had a few glasses of wine to accompany the meal and the game of Catan that followed. Something I did which I usually wouldn’t, was drinking lots of water between each glass of wine, which definitely helped with preventing any kind of hangover.

Tuesday 17th January: Went to Finborough theatre with my housemate to see my friend perform in a play.I rarely get to see him so we caught up at the pub after (The Troubadour near Earl’s Court – very good pub, highly recommend). Fancied a drink after and a couple of Manhattan’s and an Old fashioned later, I was ready to end the drinking and felt no regret, they were very good!

Wednesday 18th January: Felt a bit blegh and was having a bit of brain fog after the cocktails, but it’s in those times that i feel glad that i didn’t drink more, and that i’ve embraced a new lifestyle of just having a few and enjoying them, rather than chasing drunkenness every time i drink. 

Friday 20th January: Had another Friday Lucky Saint to round off the working week, excited that this is now a regular habit! The first sip tastes exactly like the weekend and gives the same satisfaction as any higher alcohol beer would.

Saturday 21st January: It was my brother’s birthday, so we went for dinner with a bunch of his friends followed by a trip to Finsbury Park’s infamous Rowans. I had a single beer with my dinner and was being overtaken on the drinks front by my boyfriend, who I usually drink way quicker than! I also had a margarita after I finished the meal because we were at a Mexican restaurant, so it would have simply been rude not to!

I only had one drink at Rowans – after the first, I realised I didn’t really want any alcohol. I wasn’t chasing any kind of tipsiness/drunkenness and thought I’d much rather feel fresh in the morning with a happier bank balance than drinking for the sake of it. I also found myself drinking a lot more water, which filled the gap of feeling like I always need a drink in hand whilst out.

Friday 27th January: As it got to the end of the day, I did the usual of cracking open a late afternoon beer. This time, I tried an alcohol free Brooklyn Brewery hoppy lager, which was very good! In the evening, I had two of my friends who I very rarely get to see and we made it through 3 bottles of red wine through the course of the night (also this was until 1am, so cut me a bit of slack). Not sure if that crosses the ‘damp’ line, but each glass was very much enjoyed!

And that’s my ‘damp’ January summary! Whilst I started out thinking I might not have any drinks for the whole month, I’m glad I did. If I’ve realised anything over the past couple of years, it’s that listening to what my body wants and what it doesn’t want is super important, and i’m much better off with implementing changes gradually in order for something positive to come from it, rather than going full throttle then feeling like i’ve ‘failed’ if things don’t go to plan or don’t last.

Throughout the whole month of January, I probably consumed the same amount of alcohol that I’ve consumed over the course of just two occasions in other months, and that’s not counting all of the other occasions. I’m feeling pretty fresh at the moment and way more on it with my health and fitness goals, so I’ll continue to explore the low/no life in my own way, drinking when I fancy and sampling fun new AF drinks when I don’t!

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