How to give up drinking in the midst of a pandemic
Daily Mail 2hrs ago
a person holding a wine glass: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

Alcohol sales were through the roof in 2020, as Americans Brits, Australians, and more passed the time in lockdown getting loaded (or at least taking the edge off). 

But the coronavirus pandemic isn't over yet — and our bodies can only sustain so much extra wine and tequila.

Enter Dry January, which may sound like a better idea than ever in 2021 — but might also feel like a much tougher commitment.

For those determined to give it a try, FEMAIL spoke to Hilary Sheinbaum, author of 'The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month,' who shared her best tips for taking a break from booze even while stuck at home all day, every day. 

a hand holding a glass of wine: Wring yourself out! With 2020 ¿ and 2020 levels of alcohol consumption ¿ behind us, celebrating Dry January this year can start things off on a healthy foot © Provided by Daily Mail Wring yourself out! With 2020 ¿ and 2020 levels of alcohol consumption ¿ behind us, celebrating Dry January this year can start things off on a healthy foot

'There are so many benefits to doing a Dry January — or any other dry month — including better sleep, improved digestion, increased energy, clearer skin and an overall sense of accomplishment,' said Sheinbaum, whose book debuted on December 29. 

'You also save a ton of money when you aren’t purchasing expensive cocktails and bottles of liquor and wine,' she added. 

Americans certainly spent a lot on alcohol this past year, with online sales surging like never before. In fact, a report from market research firm IWSR found that online alcohol sales in the US would total about $5.6 billion in 2020, up 80 per cent from the year before.

Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the UK also saw a boost in booze e-commerce. 

'More so than in past years, 2020 had so many lows and brought about a lot of stress and uncertainty. A lot of people are drinking more at-home and at varying hours of the day,' Sheinbaum said.

'After a crazy year, we could all use a fresh start: feeling well-rested, energetic and having a couple extra dollars in the bank.'

In her book — which includes a forward from Laguna Beach star Lo Bosworth — Sheinbaum shares the benefits of giving up alcohol, recipes for non-alcoholic cocktails, and even activities that don't include drinking. 

Here, she gives her best advice for abstaining while the world is still in the grips of a pandemic. 

a close up of a book: Sheinbaum is the author of 'The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month,' out now © Provided by Daily Mail Sheinbaum is the author of 'The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month,' out now

Remember: Out of sight, out of mind 

Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that having tasty snacks in plain view is a recipe for failure, and the same goes for the contents of your liquor cabinet. 

'While working from home, every time you pass your bar cart or open up the fridge, you’re likely spotting bottles of wine, liquor, or beer,' Sheinbaum explained. 

If your goal is to give up alcohol all together, pour everything down the drain or give it away to friends.

If you're just giving it up for the month, find a place to hide your bottles and cans. It's OK if you know it's still there; as long as you don't have to see it every day, you're less likely to drink it.

'You can simply store your alcohol out of sight at home or give it to a friend to hold on to for 31 days,' she said.

Round up your Sober Month Support Squad

Misery loves company.

'Even if you’re not seeing your friends in person during quarantine, you can propose a group activity: not drinking together,' Sheinbaum suggests. 'Having other people in on a shared goal is not only motivating, but it will keep all parties accountable.'

It can also be comforting to commiserate with friends about how much you'd like a glass of pinot grigio — and how much you're missing Saturday nights at your favorite bar.

To that end, find things to do that are fun but don't involve drinks. 

'If you are sheltering in place with friends, family or a partner, you can dream up activities to do together in-person that don’t involve alcohol,' Sheinbaum said. 

Find something to look forward to 

One reason so many of us turned to drinking during quarantine is... well, what else has there been to do?  

But instead of drinking out of boredom, now is the time to think outside the box for ways to keep busy and entertained.

'The pandemic doesn’t allow for galas or festivals, but you can still get creative with fun ways to occupy your time,' said Sheinbaum. 

'Beyond streaming platforms for binging movies, you can take on a new at-home workout regimen, learn how to cook or develop recipes (sans cooking wine), redecorate your home, or reorganize your closet. 

'And if you’ve done all of these in quarantine already, look online for live virtual events to keep yourself engaged with what’s happening in your state, city, and even your own neighborhood.

Find another drink that feels special 

It's not just the buzz that you're giving up when you press pause on alcohol: It's the taste of your favorite drinks, too.

Sheinbaum suggests replacing your post-work (or during-work) drink with a non-alcoholic one that's still tasty. 

'If you’re a beer drinker, there are brews without alcohol including IPAs, stouts, and more,' she said.

'If you’re feeling creative or looking for a classic cocktail, you can mix your own with different varieties of nonalcoholic spirits and other ingredients with zero ABV,' she added.

Her book includes recipes for non-alcoholic cocktails, and Pinterest is filled with tasty ideas. 

Motivate yourself with a reward

'You’re bound to reap mental and physical benefits from cutting out alcohol for 31 days, but having something to look forward to in the end can be motivating too,' said Sheinbaum.

'Because you’ll be saving money throughout the month, you can gather up your hard-earned cash and promise to buy yourself something that you’ve been eyeing throughout the month (or maybe even before that).'

On January 1, promise yourself something that 'feels like a treat' that you'll get as a prize on February 1 — though try not to make it alcohol.

'When your dry month is through, buy it, or reserve it and celebrate!'

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