Putting a C.O.R.K. in Dry July
June 23, 2020
Dry July is a great way to find out about your relationship with alcohol. And with 160,000 Australians signing up last year, it gives you the perfect social cover for experimenting with a reduced-booze life without attracting unwanted attention from friends.
A month off can be a struggle, but by following Hello Sunday Morning’s CORK model (Commit, Observe, Reflect and Keep) you can change your dry month from a test of endurance to a rich learning experience.
Going completely dry for a month is actually easier than merely cutting down. ‘Cutting down’ is ambiguous, leads to daily self-negotiations and weakens resolve. But if you commit to going totally dry, the decision has been made.
You can add a layer of assurance to your commitment by making it public (a climb-down is embarrassing!). Tell your friends that you’re doing Dry July before you start - and why - because you will be asked!.
If you need a little support, download the Daybreak app and use the customised goal-setting feature to help you stay the course. The Dry July website gives you a Gold Ticket option - a 24-hour time-out if you kick in a little extra to the charity - but our tip is: don’t do it. Steam all the way through without a drink and you’ll be able to fully appreciate your achievement.
The big payback from your dry month will come if you consciously take the effort to observe things, carefully and honestly.
- What physical changes do you notice in yourself? (eyes, skin, energy levels, digestion, sleep patterns etc)
- Your emotional state? (anxiety levels, emotional stability, ability to handle stresses)
- Mental acuity (ability to concentrate, inventiveness of ideas)
- How well you perform your job, or your role within the family?
- How you engage with other people? (Are you more, or less, socially confident?)
- Do people make you feel uncomfortable because you aren’t drinking? (Are you possibly making them uncomfortable?)
- Do you notice advertising, product placements, and social expectations around drinking more?
You’ll see some of these changes after a few days, while others may come and go or take a couple of weeks to become evident, so revisit these questions regularly over the month.
If you stay alert to these observations, you’ll come into the last week of July with a trove of insights into your own relationship with alcohol. Reflect on these.
Some insights may make you uncomfortable. If you noticed significant improvements, that’s a signal that your present relationship with alcohol isn’t working for you. If you observed no real change, perhaps you’ve already got it right (well done!). If some friends gave you a hard time for not drinking that might tell you something about the nature of those friendships.
Think about times during the month when you found it to be most rewarding, and when it was difficult to be alcohol-free. Was there a social situation, or person, that was strongly associated with the urge to have a drink, or with a feeling that you were expected to? Was it awkward when you declined on those occasions, and if so, why?
If you’ve reflected deeply and honestly on these insights, you’ll inevitably arrive at a few conclusions about how you might improve your relationship with alcohol. It may involve a radical overhaul, or it may just be a few tweaks.
Whatever your conclusions, it’s important that the valuable insights you gained and the conclusions you arrived at aren’t discarded at the end of the month. So think about what you want to keep from the experience, and what you will take forward and revisit in the future.