10 Feb Hello to Sober February!!
You may have heard about Dry January, where people avoid alcohol entirely during the first month of the new year. Although the concept of Dry January is relatively new, it has been around in the U.K. since 2014, and is now starting to catch on in the U.S. However, following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been accompanied by a significant spike in alcohol consumption, it’s become an increasingly important topic. It’s important to look at how not just one month, but every month can affect your mind, body, and soul, which is why we’re talking about Sober February today.
For most people, 2020 was a year of stress and uncertainty about the future. And the unfortunate truth is that alcohol, particularly wine, is often marketed as a “stress coping mechanism”, especially toward women and mothers. As a 2020 BBC article wrote, “marketing often links drinking to perceptions of what women are seeking: friendship, relaxation, and empowerment.” It promotes a distorted version of self-care–women can be mothers, providers, in the workforce, and still treat themselves and relax… with alcohol. Though relaxation for some can come in the form of a glass of wine, it isn’t necessarily self-care, and this idea can create a dangerous and disordered outlook on alcohol and stress coping. These feelings of happiness, independence, and empowerment cannot be induced with a bottle of wine–they require real, tangible change.
Participating in Dry January could be appealing to many, given that many people indulge during the holiday season and then want to kickstart the new year in healthier fashion. Using this month to reflect on your attitude toward alcohol and drinking habits can help change your mindset and well-being. Rather than viewing this month as a challenge to tick off your list, introspect and recognize the significance alcohol holds in your daily life; take note of your physical and mental changes that are happening as a result of sobriety.
Why you should try Sober February?
The main reasons people participate in Dry January are the health benefits. As you’re probably aware, excessive drinking can result in health issues, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and increases the risk for certain diseases, like breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and liver problems. It can impair sleeping patterns, decrease energy levels, weaken immune function, and cause weight gain. Not to mention, an increasing number of women are experiencing emergency visits for alcohol-related reasons.
This isn’t meant to scare you away from alcohol entirely, though! It’s important to take a step back and evaluate your relationship with alcohol by looking at the facts! Pose a couple questions to yourself, like: Do you feel more energized? Do you find it difficult to resist a glass of wine? Have your sleep, exercise, or mood patterns changed? How do you want to incorporate alcohol into your life from this point on? Your experience is your own and your takeaways from your “experiment” are only going to benefit you and your quality of life. Obviously, it’s quite easy to participate in a challenge for a month, but you can reap the benefits of your experience by using what you’ve learned about yourself to improve your approach on alcohol in the future. It’s a great way to learn how to incorporate a realistic amount of alcohol for your health to keep a balanced lifestyle. Dry January may be over, but taking care of yourself through self-awareness and self-reflection doesn’t have to end!
Read more about improving your wellness!