There’s no way around it: last year was hard, and the calendar starting over on a new year doesn’t just wipe all of that away.
I know a lot of people right now, including myself, are thinking about the habits we adopted during quarantine to make it through. Are those habits sustainable? Are they still serving us? How do we recenter our health and come back to ourselves in 2021?
Many People Stop Drinking During "Dry January"
You may have seen people talking about abstaining from drinking during “Dry January.” This trend of not drinking for the first month of the year has been picking up, and I understand why.
So many of us turn to substances like alcohol to cope with stress without understanding just how big of an impact on our health this can have. The beginning of the year finds us more hopeful and optimistic than usual, and we can use that momentum to reframe our relationship with our coping mechanisms.
You are the only person who knows what’s right for you, but if you’re thinking about cutting out alcohol right now, you aren’t alone. I want you to feel supported. Whether you’re sober or not, we turned to some friends in the recovery community for some wisdom on navigating the new year with grace—as well as some of their favorite mocktail recipes. Read on to learn more!
Tip #1: Look for the Silver Lining of Sobriety
While we often think of not drinking as a challenge or a loss, there may be some ways it can actually be a blessing or a relief.
For example, the pandemic has drastically affected our ability to be social and gather in crowds. This isn’t something any of us love, of course—but this can also make not drinking easier when you’re just starting out. The lack of parties to go to or events to attend can be helpful in a way because it removes situational triggers. I have to admit that I’m feeling a little relieved this year that Mardi Gras will be pared down so that I can have more time to figure out where I stand with drinking in a social context.
Phoebe has found her own silver lining as she continues abstaining; she feels much more resilient and steady in her life. “My body and mind are much better able to be calm during such a traumatizing year,” she says. “I have healthier coping mechanisms now that aid in my long-term wellness: fitness, nutrition, meditation, walking outside, making art, and so on. I can be present with the discomfort and not want to destroy myself over it.”
Tip #2: Make Time to Connect
Shari is busy. She’s the founder of Served Up Sober, a non-profit devoted to increasing sober holistic alternatives for women of color, and a Certified Recovery Coach. Even though she’s been sober for almost six years, it feels more stressful right now because of COVID fatigue and the overall stress of this last year. It’s more important than ever to her to make time to be in community with others.
“Not being able to be with family and friends has really fostered feelings of loneliness and a sense of nostalgia for past gatherings. More often, I find myself stressing about the unknown and being preoccupied with the future.” That stress is a potential trigger for Shari so to protect her sobriety, she’s staying mindful and remaining in close touch with others. “This is part of remembering my why,” she says. “Even though Zoom calls aren’t a replacement for real-life experiences, they bring me comfort and a sense of closeness.”
Tip #3: Give Yourself Grace—and Even Hope
Be gentle with yourself. Getting through 2020 was hard, and you did it. Offer yourself an opportunity to look at your choices without judgment or shame. You can give yourself compassion, even while recognizing areas in which you might want to be more mindful. And, you can always start over. Let an experiment with sobriety be just that--an experiment. If you fall off, just begin again.
Shari says the biggest gift she’s given herself and her sobriety is to remove any and all expectations during the pandemic. For example, she’s not putting any pressure on herself to start a new eating routine in the New Year—or to create any new resolutions at all, for that matter.
Chris is giving himself grace to feel what he needs to feel during these unprecedented times. “Last year was especially challenging given the added stressors of quarantines, virtual learning, and work during a pandemic,” he acknowledges. He wants to continue making time to focus on his mental and emotional health and deepen his relationships with friends.
And he’s allowing himself to feel hopeful. “I’m looking ahead at 2021 and the possibility of a return to normal. While I am a believer in staying in the present moment, I also feel like it’s okay to look forward to the year ahead.”
Tip #4: Enjoy a Mocktail
Mocktails are fun to explore and can safeguard against your cravings for alcohol. Making them can be as easy or as involved as you want them to be. Choose your own adventure!
If you’re just looking for simple things to try, Phoebe loves mixing kombucha and bubbly water and—if she feels fancy—throwing some berries in for good measure. Shari recommends Health-Ade Kombucha in the Watermelon flavor for something that’s ready to go.
If you’ve got a few extra minutes, try Shari’s suggestion to mix Lime Perrier with the Mojito Splash non-alcoholic mixer. Shake well and serve over ice with a twist of lime.
And if you want to get really fancy, try this recipe Chris shared with us, developed by DRY Soda exclusively for Sans Bar!
Berry Juniper Fizz
1 oz. juniper syrup
1 oz NA Gin (optional)
2 oz Pomegranate Juice
.5 oz orange juice
In a cocktail shaker add ice, juniper syrup, NA Gin, pomegranate juice, and orange juice. Shake until cold and frothy. Strain into a coupe and top with DRY Cranberry Botanical Bubbly. Garnish with an orange peel and fresh cranberries.
To make the Juniper Syrup:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons dried juniper berries, crushed
Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring periodically until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle boil, and immediately take off the heat. Add in the juniper berries and let them steep. Let it cool to room temperature, then strain into a glass jar. Store in the refrigerator, tightly sealed for up to one month.
This has given me some ideas, and now I’m looking forward to experimenting with making mocktails with our Rose Glycerite tincture. I hope you’ve gotten some inspiration as well and that you find ways to take care of yourself as we head into 2021.