7 alcohol-free evening activities for Dry January

When it's an habitual part of your day, it can be difficult to forgo an evening tipple. For starters, what would you do instead? Read on to discover seven sober ways to unwind in the evening, taken from Dry January's official guide to a month off booze, Try Dry.

Do you enjoy a drink or two at the end of a hard day to help you unwind? Do you find that nowadays the thought of relaxing in the evening without finishing at least a bottle seems impossible? Welcome to the beer/wine o’clock clock.

If you like to drink at home it’s so easy to rack up the units without even thinking. It’s right there in the fridge – how convenient! No need to drive, no need to make an effort to interact with anyone, you can just sit and chill/you don’t even need to get drunk – just a few glasses to take the edge off, and boy does it take the edge off. Except when it encourages you to wallow in just how rotten the day was.

If you’re on your own, there’s no one to complain that you’re hogging the booze, and if you’re with friends, well, it’s hard to tell who’s had what, and you’re all in the same boat, so why not?

What an earth do you do in a dry month of evenings at home, then?

You do other things that’s what. Fun things; things you’ve been meaning to get round to; new things, relaxing things. Now that you’ve got some extra free time, you can start to explore ways to spend it. If you’re usually too tired to do any kind of exploring by the end of the working day, you’ll be surprised at how much more energy you have once your sleep patterns improve and you’re still not a wee bit hung-over from the night before.

If you just want a night (or a day) in without booze, here are seven things to try.

1. Listen to music

Vinyl record playing

Get out your old vinyl, dust off your mix tapes, polish your CDs, fire up Spotify, sit back and just listen. Music is so often the backing track to our lives that we don’t think to stop and make it the main event. Why not spend an evening putting a playlist together? It might be a collection of calming tunes, or an evening of nostalgia with the soundtrack from your life. Either way, listening to music is a great way to relax.

2. ...Or make music yourself!

If you already play an instrument, you could spend an evening getting back into practice. An hour or two a couple of times a week will soon have you strumming, drumming, blowing or twinkling the ivories like a rock star. If you don’t already play but have always wanted to, you can pick up a bargain instrument on eBay, watch a few ‘how to’ YouTube videos and off you go. After all, that’s just how Justin Bieber got started.

3. Garden glory

This is one of those things that you either love or hate. If you’re a passionate gardener, you’re probably out there already on a regular basis. If not, I’m not suggesting you get all Monty Don; just plant a few bulbs in a window box or sprinkle some herb seeds in containers. If you don’t have the space or a garden of your own, why not get involved in a community garden near your? Remember to water your seedlings regularly – they do moist, not dry – and by the time your dry month is over, you should see your plants starting to grow. Symbolic isn’t it?

4. Pamper yourself

Hand with colourful nails

Why not treat yourself to the whole shebang. Give yourself a manicure, a pedicure, face-mask and a mineral soak in the bath. Stick an intensive moisture treatment on your hair and let your worries drift away. You could invite a friend over for mutual pampering and a chat whilst you sip herbal ‘detox’ tea. Believe me, blokes, this is for you too.

5. Get creative

Maybe you can knit, maybe you like to whittle, maybe you’ve never tried either but would like to give it a go. You don’t have to be brilliant at it, you just have to enjoy the process. There’s something deeply satisfying about creating something from scratch, and I don’t mean a vodka martini. Try out different creative arts to see what you enjoy.

Don’t fancy something creative, but do like the idea of learning? Check out the wide range of (free) courses available online.

6. Plan a holiday

World map with pins in it

Long gone are the days of just picking up a brochure, choosing a hotel and leaving the rest to the package-holiday touts. These days it’s all about creating our own bespoke experience. The plethora of holiday website can take a bit of wading through so why not commit an evening to planning the perfect getaway? It doesn’t have to be a long-haul extravaganza (beware the ‘all-inclusive’ option), just getting excited about a weekend away is a fun way to pass the time. 

7. Spring cleaning

OK, not everyone will find this relaxing but it can certainly be cathartic and rewarding. If you’ve got a cupboard, loft or room that could really do with a sort out, it’ a useful way to spend an evening. Not only are you creating extra space, you can donate anything you don’t want to charity for that feel-good factor or raise a bit of cash selling it online. Time passes quickly once you start delving into your hoard of forgotten items and you won’t even think about drinking once you’re up to your eyeballs in old lampshades, bicycle chains and inflatable dolphins.

For more Dry January support, listen to the Try Dry podcast below with special guest Dr Rangan Chatterjee, author of The Stress Solution and The 4 Pillar Plan to discover the health, lifestyle and financial benefits of cutting back on booze. 

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