The Complete Guide to Dry January

If, like us, you’ve spent the vast majority of December in ebrius (with the residual effects of the persistent hangover still haunting you post-New Year’s), giving up the good stuff for Dry January – plus no doubt adopting a number of ill-thought-out New Year’s Resolutions – probably seems like a really good idea.

Of course, it won’t be easy. The first half of week one will probably entail enduring severe withdrawal symptoms, just as you return to the office, alongside the giant pile of work you’d been putting off over the festive period. It will be hell, and you will struggle not to turn to your best bottled friend (whether he be named Jim, Jack or Johnnie) but you must stay strong, young Padawan, for this is only the beginning.

Once those headaches subside (about the end of the first week) and you’ve caught up on your beauty sleep, you’ll start to feel the effects. Gone is the perennial face bloat, the blurry vision, and you’ll find you’re actually able to concentrate on things. If you’ve been particularly clever, you’ve also been religiously adding chilli or ginger to literally every meal and hot drink, to ward off that pesky cold going around/speed up your sluggish winter metabolism/because you read somewhere it was good for you. Maybe next week you’ll join an outdoor aerobics class (the fitness trend for 2017, don’t you know).

By the end of week two, your energy is through the roof, the woes of drunken 2016 a long-lost memory. You’ve started rock-climbing three days a week at Boulder Brighton (because the cold can’t reach you there, and you can no longer turn to your tried-and-tested method of five mulled wines to warm you up), which turns out a lot easier to fit in to your schedule than you’d thought… Maybe because you’re not spending every morning hungover and every night remedying your alcohol-fuelled ailments with, yep, more alcohol. You’re also starting to feel like you’ve finally found the extent of your true potential; you’re ticking so many things off your to do list you’re having to make up new things to do, as opposed to the fading 2016 version of you that would start the list with things you’d already done so you felt less crap at the end of a particularly unproductive day.

On top of Dry January, you’re also taking on Try January in an attempt to up your adventurousness and appeal to the opposite sex (you multi-tasker, you). However, around this time what you may start to notice is that you’ve done absolutely everything you ever needed to do and are absolutely bored shitless – and everyone around you is also bored of your incessant bright-eyed and bushy-tailed smugness. Yes, going full-fat and upping your calcium and vitamin D through the wonders of gold top may do magical things for your energy, but most people – whose New Year’s resolutions went out the window three days in – don’t want to be preached to on their nutritional habits, or hear about your newfangled addiction to following Instagram fitness gurus; least of all, your friends.

The thing is, there’s a little-known rule about sober January: it identifies that friend in every group who is just a little more interesting (read: less insufferable) when they’re drunk. If you can’t identify this friend, then this person is probably you. As week four rolls around, you realise the friendships you forged over a myriad of mulled wines, mince pies and general warm and fuzzy festive feelings over Christmas are gone, leaving you with a bitter taste in your mouth (don’t worry, this is probably just from the matcha/spirulina smoothie you made with your NutriBullet that morning – we hear you get used to it after a few days).

Finally, you wake on the morning of the 31st; look in the mirror at the shell of the person you used to be. Sure, being a smug, preachy flexitarian-eating, Crossfit-doing, perpetually lycra-wearing wanker made you look good on the outside, but your friends have been dodging your calls and, if you’re completely honest with yourself, you’ve been missing the pub since day five. Besides, you’ve decided being so consistently productive just isn’t sustainable for your wellbeing. While Dry January may be full of good intentions, you decide next year it just isn’t worth the hassle; February comes not a moment too soon.

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