I WOULDN'T consider myself a big drinker but after Dry January, I've never thought about alcohol more in my life. 

Going into the New Year, I set myself a resolution - as many of us do - to prioritise my health in 2024. 

A vague - but more importantly - no-pressure goal which made room for midnight McDonald's and lazy Sundays every now and then.

This month, I started therapy, going swimming again, reading regularly and drinking daily smoothies.

South Wales Argus: Dry January can be a financial and mental health reset . (PA)Dry January can be a financial and mental health reset . (PA)

The idea was to introduce small and manageable healthy habits into my life until they were simply my routine.

All of which - to save you too much detail - have been going well and I think that there's a strong chance that they are here to stay in 2024.

But as part of prioritising my physical and mental health this year, I decided I was going to do Dry January to give myself a complete reset.

I've never tried the 31-day challenge before - but I did attempt Sober October at university (I lasted a spectacular grand total of 12 days).

Although December was a bit...damp between the various festive toasts and cheeky celebrations - I would have never considered myself much of a drinker.

Growing up, there was never alcohol in the house and I continued this rule into adulthood in my own flat. 

I very rarely have a drink on a school night - reserving the occasion for catching up with friends I haven't seen in ages.


@allymcilwraith just do it #sober #dryjanuary #alcoholfreejourney #alcoholfree #alcoholfreelifestyle #alcoholfreeダンスチャレンジ ♬ original sound - ally

My clubbing days are very much in their twilight years but every other weekend, I might enjoy an Aperol or two or three to blow the cobwebs away.

The only time that I've felt alcohol's creeping influence was at university - when I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. 

Between the stress of exams, a nasty break up and my diagnosis, I was clubbing and drinking more than I ever had in my life. 

On the surface, I just looked like a happy, carefree student that was just doing what students do.

But of course, we know better.

I was drinking to escape and I was risking my health, education and my friendships to do it.

After a drunken and tearful argument with a friend one night, I cut ties with alcohol and swore its toxicity out of my life.

For the months that followed, I barely drank - minus a few slip-ups here and there which served as the jolt of reality I needed to stop again.

Five years on, I do drink but until recently anyway, my relationship with booze has been completely different.

It's not something I obsess about or even crave. There's no weak 'It's 5 o'clock' somewhere justification. It all appeared to be very healthy.

@dralexgeorge Are you doing dr january this year? Sober curious? You need to hear this. For the whole of Jan I will be making content to support your sober journey. #soberlife #sobertiktok #sobriety #alcoholfreejourney #dryjanuary #dryjan #alcoholfree ♬ original sound - Dr Alex

Since I rarely drink, I didn't see Dry January presenting much of a challenge for me.

As far as I was concerned, it would be hardly noticeable in my day-to-day life.

If I was doing a marathon, I would have to spend hours and hours training.

If I went on a diet, I'd have to watch everything I ate, counting calories as I went.

But with drinking, I just wouldn't drink.

Should be that simple, right? Enter social media.

Between the constant Instagram health ads and TikTok tips, I lived in a world of sober supporting hashtags. 

After watching a few videos out of curiosity, I was locked in the algorithm and there was no escape.

For the next month, all I knew was the minefield of videos appearing on #DryJanuary #DryJanuary2024 and #sobertok to name just a few.

Don't get me wrong, I can see value in social media creators sharing their favourite mocktail recipes or their complicated experiences with alcohol.

@olivianoceda MIDNIGHT CHERRY SPRITZ🌙🍒 a mocktail for everyone who loves good sleep, just like me. ingredients .5oz maple syrup 1oz lemon juice 1oz lime juice 8oz tart cherry juice 1 sprig rosemary 1 knob ginger 1 handful mint sprinkle of cinnamon ice muddle together maple syrup, grated ginger, mint, rosemary and cinnamon. add lemon/lime juice and cherry juice. shake and pour into glasses with ice. garnish with cinnamon and rosemary #functionalmedicine #tartcherryjuice #mocktailrecipe #sobercurious #nightcap #damplifestyle #healthyhabits #bettersleep #sleep #tartcherry #mocktails ♬ Lavender Haze - Taylor Swift

It's inspiration to think more creatively about sober living.

It's motivation to keep up with the challenge when you're questioning why you did it in the first place.

But my 'For You' page forced Dry January content down my throat like it was a Sambuca shot nobody wanted or asked for.

Yes, I was doing Dry January but by being faced with a stream of daily videos, I couldn't help but think about it all of the time - even if I didn't actually want a drink.

Not only that, the videos made me feel I was doing Dry January wrong too.

I didn't have a new lease of life, I didn't experience a fresh jolt of energy. 

I hadn't made tonnes of fancy mocktails or thrown myself into any extreme sports.

In short, the videos made Dry January a challenge when I'd never believed there was one.

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The only way I can compare it is when the Diet Culture alarm goes off at 00:01 on January 1st. 

As soon as the New Year strikes, we can't breathe for discounted gym memberships and weight loss plans.

If we truly want to lead a healthy lifestyle, it can't be through extreme month-long challenges or impossible resolutions for the year.

Instead, sobriety, healthy eating, exercise or whatever it is needs to be part of the conversation all year round.

We need it to be normal. So, it's not a chore or a hardship we'll give up on in a week or two, it will simply be our routine.