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  • Writer's pictureLushmuddled

Dry July Recap

I want to start this with complete honesty.

I did not do Dry July. My wife and I started with the best of intentions and we drank a lot of zero-beers and non-alcoholic wines. To be frank, we still have some hanging around which we're keen on getting to. Plenty of Sobah. Some NON. A few bottles of Tost. But, on the 21st July, as Sydney entered it's fourth week of lockdown, the cabin fever and delirium was just getting too much. We needed a drink.

As so many friends have told me, three weeks is a good effort. 21 days without alcohol during a pressure cooker of anxiety, dread, boredom and depression? I'll take that as a win, thank you. It also was enough time to really appreciate how taking alcohol out of my life changed me.

The first week was detox. It was fine, but a struggle to not reach for that nightly glass of wine with dinner. On day seven, I had a headache which just refused go away. It wasn't the worst of my life, but it's persistence was enough to make me pop some Panadol and waste the day feeling sorry for myself. It was probably some form of withdrawal, but I do like the term detox more. It seems healthier.

After that, it was pretty smooth sailing. I was expecting to lose some weight, but the combination of lockdown and eating-your-stress-away wasn't really conducive. I did lose 2 kilos in a week, but I also gained that right back thanks to the local charcoal chicken shop and my complete lack of self-control.

What I did notice after the first week, and really appreciated, was just how much better I was sleeping. I was frequently sleeping through the night and was waking up feeling refreshed (is this how people who don't drink normally feel like? It's amazing!) It's a little counter intuitive though, given that alcohol normally makes people fall asleep. There is still research to be done here, but it looks like that glass of wine (or two) affects your sleep cycle, particularly REM sleep. I did notice on the morning of the 22nd just how sluggish I was. I wasn't drunk the night before, and I wasn't hungover. I felt...slower. Getting out of bed was a bit harder and I really needed a double latte to kick my brain back into action.

It's a great benefit. Sleeping better has a load of benefits, from stabilising your mood to strengthening your immune system. If I had a stronger will, and combined my Dry July with a diet and exercise, I think the month would have reset my body for the better. But, sadly, the timing was wrong.

Has Dry(ish) July changed my relationship with alcohol? Well, yes. Alcohol is a toxin - you can't escape the fact that drinking it is objectively a bad thing. But understanding just what you're putting into your body and how it affects you is a good start. I'm a lot stricter now with drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic drink I have. Hangovers, whether its a morning headache or completely debilitating, are the absolute worst. Keeping hydrated definitely helps negate a lot of the negative effects. I also don't dread the occasional Dry Night or Dry Week. It's good to know that I don't need to rely on wine.

But you cannot imagine just how much I was smiling when I opened my first bottle of wine after three weeks.

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