Previously posted on Freedom Institute’s blog
Time is a thief. It was March for 2,000 days. April lasted a week. Suddenly, June is here. Time has seemed amorphous during the COVID-19 quarantine. It has slipped away, taking with it many of our healthy habits, leaving behind loneliness and anxiety, and challenging our resiliency. The new year’s motivation and promise to start living clean and partaking in Dry January seems a decade ago.
There has been a lot of press coverage on the enormous spike in alcohol sales and whether or not Americans are drinking their way through the pandemic. At Freedom Institute, we’re hitting the reset button on 2020 and promoting a Dry June movement, #DryJune. Just like Dry January, Dry June means a month of no alcohol, and it’s not only a good excuse to detox from quarantine over-indulgences, but a good way to examine your relationship with alcohol.
Whatever your reasons for attempting a month alcohol free, applying the habits of sobriety to your daily life will promote overall physical, mental and emotional health and help develop your resiliency. The benefits of abstaining from drinking include an improved mood, better sleep, a stronger immune system, and decreased anxiety, among others.
It is a personal decision to stop drinking and for many it turns out to be not so easy. If you decide to try Dry June, here are some strategies recommended by our clinicians at Freedom Institute to support you through it.
§ Take it one day at a time: Break down the month. One day, two days, three days – these sound easier than 30 straight days. Don’t look too far ahead. Just put one foot in front of the other and stay in the moment, handling any challenges as they come up.
§ Plan for urges and find alternatives: Instead of having a drink, replace the behavior with a healthy alternative (see tips below). When you feel the urge to have a drink, instead call a friend, pamper yourself, watch something funny, treat yourself to a glass of sparkling water and juice.
§ Fellowship: Ask for support. Tell friends and family what your goal is and ask for their support and understanding. Reach out to friends when you need to.
§ Exercise: Reduce feelings of anxiety or stress with a run, walk, Jumping Jacks, dance, yoga, Zumba, anything really. Movement is magic. (Check out DBT TIPP Skill I: Intense Exercise.)
§ Diet: It’s no secret that a healthy diet has a positive effect on mood. Drink lots of water, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and try to avoid too much sugar.
§ Meditation: There are many types of meditation and whether it’s the 20 minutes, twice a day recommended in Transcendental Meditation, the Mindfulness Meditation we teach in our DBT Skills or the DBT TIPP skill P: Paced Breathing, taking a moment to settle yourself and your thoughts has calming benefits.
§ Avoid ‘all or nothing’ Thinking: If you slip, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up. You are not starting over. You are just starting again. This is about progress not perfection.
§ Keep a journal: Writing things down can help you document your growth. You may start by asking yourself some questions and writing down your thoughts and feelings. How often and how much do I drink? What are the reasons I drink? How do I feel before I drink? How do I feel after? How does alcohol affect my relationships? Do I find myself thinking about alcohol? Write down what works and what doesn’t work. Then as the days go by, notice changes in how you feel and write those down.
§ Reach out for support throughout: Check in with friends or any professional support you may need. Use DBT skills to help reduce stress and anxiety. A helpful resource is this DBT TIPP skills video series on YouTube.
At the end of the month, if this temporary abstinence leads you to want to explore whether or not you want to stop drinking altogether, Freedom Institute can help support you on your journey.
Let us know how you do during #DryJune.
by Freedom Institute, Founded in 1976, we are a Manhattan-based, NY OASAS licensed, medically supervised, nonprofit, outpatient addiction recovery center, offering confidential, personalized care in person & via Telehealth.