"Wine O'Clock" - A Dry January Story

Only two weeks into Jan feels a little early for me to be claiming total victory in the Dry Jan stakes but it’s already an interesting process. I am probably a fairly average business leader and chief executive. The job is high pressure but comfortably paid, its long hours, fast paced and like the “average” I have always looked forward to a BIG glass or two of red wine at the end of the day. Like many I am surviving lockdown, have more time at home, and have had personal disruption in my private life which adds to the pressures and excuses to relax with a drink. Those of us in professions and middle age listen to daily drink culture that’s changed over the last few years that not only accepts drinking but celebrates it. Gin or wine o’clock has become a cultural phenomenon. I have people with whom I regularly work with that would struggle to go days without but legitimise it because the wine is expensive or the gin is flavoured –which makes it different than drinking super strength lager down the pub. It’s an undiscussed and undisclosed problem.

I am not someone who would claim to have an issue with alcohol. I do , however, drink frequently and regularly. Like many professionals in their late forties I annually squirm a little when the GP asks how many units I have per week. Usually mumbling confusion as to what a unit is, and then doing some theatrical counting, before deducting lots and coming in just under the recommended units per week, promising to try harder (with fingers crossed!). I am mindful about how I drink and what I drink- which means I am consciously consuming but that does not mean always in the correct volumes . I enjoy having a drink and always have. I find it social, relaxing and rewarding and worth the hangovers (which appear to get significantly worse with age!)

Over Christmas I saw adverts for Dry January and with another lockdown coming, a very busy work period, the need to fight off some depression and a waistline to challenge I thought I would take up the pledge and go dry for a month to see what happens. Now at this stage if you are expecting a massive “road to Damascus” experience, with blinding lights, revelations and life changing fanfare then you’re about to be disappointed. Two weeks in what has changed and what have I learnt? Well quite a lot really. My sleep is better now in the second week. My thinking clearer and my moods probably more stable. I have started to drop a few pounds. Due to lockdown there have been no social events to test a sober self against- so I may or may not be boring! Evenings seem a little longer but a little more hopeful. Oh and it turns out a comedy show I watch once a week actually isn’t funny. Good luck if you too are on the Dry January journey. I’ll see you in a few weeks! So finally, do I miss the booze….probably. Will I go back to alcohol…..probably. Will I continue with Dry Jan to explore this process, learn about myself and help my health…absolutely!

Stuart Rimmer