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Emma and Shaun's story

On Boxing day last year, Poole residents Emma and Shaun stopped drinking as they simply felt they'd had enough. They abstained not just through January, but all the way to Emma's birthday at the end of February!

We chatted to Emma to hear their story:

“It's not that we have ever been super heavy drinkers - we would normally only ever drink on Friday and Saturday evenings anyway – we simply decided we'd had enough! We enjoy a drink on holiday, and after the usual drink every night over Christmas, we wanted to quit for a bit.

Previously, my drink of choice would have be gin and tonic or rum and diet Coke. These high carbonated drinks did me no good. They made my stomach uncomfortable. The artificial sweetener contained in diet Coke affects my gut, so cutting it has made me more comfortable.

"We sleep all the way through."

The main benefit of Dry January was that our sleep improved. We sleep all the way through, whereas before we'd be up to go to the toilet. I get up with a clear head and have much more get-up and go. And for the rest of the year, it's a new normal, it's easier to drink less. And it feels good to have control of it; to not feel like we need to have a drink.

Dry January has given me awareness about what I drink and eat. Having successfully stopped doing one thing, it has a knock-on effect - I'm ready to focus on another goal. I'm left asking myself 'what other changes can I make?'

One of the positives I've gained is through the choir I joined last year. Now, every Tuesday night, I'm excited to go to my pop choir. I wanted to try something new, something else. I'm not a gym-bunny - exercising indoors is not my thing. Singing at choir every Tuesday night makes me feel joyful - it combats my anxiety and depression and makes me feel good. I love it! It makes me feel good about myself. It doesn't matter if you can't sing. For anyone going through tough stuff; anxiety or depression - join a choir.

Herbal tea pot-luck!

Shaun and I opt for herbal teas now - we've tried them all! In fact, we've got a big box of them in the kitchen and we play herbal tea pot-luck! Rather than intoxicating my body, I cleanse it. And we struggle to drink enough water, so it helps to hydrate us. My favourite is green, lemon or red berry. Shaun's favourite is lemon and ginger.

To other people thinking about trying Dry January, I would say: don't focus on the not drinking, focus on how you feel when you're not drinking. And you will feel better! No matter how stressful your day has been, not needing an alcoholic drink makes you feel better. Think about having a good night's sleep. Get some support from friends and family, this helps to keep going. It is hard in the first few days, when you're used to drinking. But focus on the positives. Focus on what you're gaining, rather than what you're missing.

I think people try to do too much in January! There's joining a gym; Slimming World and WW - when people are desperate to make a change it's easy to bite off too much. But Dry January is a short-term goal, that's relatively easy to achieve. When you've cracked that one, you can move onto the next goal.

It was similar when I used to smoke, I used patched and quit the first time I tried in 12 weeks. I didn't think that I would be able to, but I found that after I gave up smoking I was less stressed. Before, I'd always be thinking about where my next cigarette would come from. But being smoke-free meant that I didn't have to worry. And it's the same with drinking."

Reset your relationship with alcohol today

Find out if you're drinking within recommended guidelines. Take our lifestyle assessment to discover how healthy you're living. Join Our LiveWell and share your Dry January goal – our community will cheer you on all the way.
Adrian Chiles

"Loads of us drink too much. I used to drink every day and was horrified to find that my consumption was sometimes in excess of 100 units per week... I had to moderate my drinking".

How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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