It's All About Focusing On What You Stand To Gain
Written by: JoAnne Pearce
Two weeks ago, Health Canada released a new set of alcohol consumption guidelines that landed like a gut punch. Thought you were a normal drinker? Just kidding! One day most Canadians went to bed as ‘normal’ drinkers, only to rudely awaken the next day labeled as ‘high risk’.
As a nondrinker and mocktail enthusiast who read a lot of 'quit lit' during her first year of sobriety, the reasoning behind the new guidelines didn’t come as much of a surprise to me. Seeing the recommended consumption reduced to 2 drinks a week, however, was unexpected. This is down from 10 drinks for women and 15 drinks for men.
This is a shocking reduction to contend with, for both drinkers and non-drinkers alike, albeit for different reasons. The health risks of alcohol, particularly as a Group 1 carcinogen, have been notoriously underplayed in public discourse up to this point.
‘Oh wow, I guess we’re actually talking about this now’, is the general feeling amongst sober folks.
The former drinker in me, though, knows all too well that deprivation and fear are not great motivators for change. Anxiety and alcohol are uneasy bedfellows. In fact, anxiety over one’s alcohol consumption can often just lead to more alcohol consumption. Drinkers currently find themselves facing a tricky paradigm shift, indeed.
When it comes down to it, true motivation lies in the carrot and not the stick.
If you were going to cut down on your consumption because DRINKING IS BAD FOR YOU, you would have done it by now. Focus on everything you have to gain by cutting down, though, and doing a dry month starts to look a lot more attractive. This is why, on the day that the restrictions came out, I prepared a radio column on five reasons why going dry can actually give you superpowers.
This month, to kick off the first ten days of Dry February, please enjoy an extended version of that list on the newly minted Token Blog. Here’s hoping that it will help motivate you to have the most arid month possible.
Reason To Try Going Dry #1: You Will Have More Time
Going sober for a spell will make you feel like Hermione in The Prisoner of Azkaban, with her time turner and casual disregard for the laws of physics. If you are an everyday drinker or something like it, taking a break from the sauce will suddenly make gobs of previously wasted time available to you, and you will end up feeling like you gained a whole second day within your day.
Time lost to drinking is a concept that you can take as literally as you want. Alcohol does, after all, leech lifespan out of your body like a smooch-happy dementor wearing mardi gras beads. At the same time, living exclusively for flawless physical health is a losing game, and we all end up picking our poisons eventually.
Then there are the more surreptitious ways that we lose time to drinking. Alcohol is a sneaky thief.
It’s the time spent going down the boozy spiral of working yourself up over your problems instead of working on solving them. Time spent instigating squabbles with your partner, friends, or family. Time spent being hungover and thinking of excuses to call in sick. Time spent looking for lost phones and wallets after a night out. Time spent being injured because you tried to roundhouse kick a beer can off a urinal.
Instead, think of all you could accomplish in those unfettered evening, weekend, and morning hours.
You could learn how to yodel! Become the kind of person who folds their underwear! Take up Muay Thai and finally nail that roundhouse kick! Putting the booze down for a moment will free you up to pursue your hobbies, see friends and take care of important personal business like doing laundry and dealing with your cardboard box collection before it gets out of control.
Finally, it should be said that time spent having good conversations over high quality drinks and snacks is never time wasted.
True that the where might change a bit (cafes, restaurants), as well as the when (probably not at 2am), but it is always a good use of time to go for a drink with a friend. Just make yours a mocktail this month!