podcast episode dry january tips for teachers: judgement free advice for sober curious educators

Dry January Tips for Teachers: Judgement Free Advice for Sober Curious Educators

podcast Dec 29, 2023

This week's blog post may not be for every educator, but if it's piqued your interest, settle in to a judgement free discussion of how one of your standard "coping mechanisms" to deal with the stress of teaching may not be helping you unwind as much as you think. I will also dive into how January is an excellent time to think about cutting back or eliminating alcohol from your daily "self-care" routine.

Like any good lesson plan - let's start off with reviewing vocabulary.

Dry January Dry January is a simple yet powerful concept - give up drinking alcohol for the first month of the year. Originating in the UK, millions now participate annually.

Sober Curious - this refers to anyone who has ever asked themselves the question, "Am I relying on alcohol to "unwind" too much?", "Is my alcohol consumption interfering with my ability to live my best life?", or simply, "Do I drink too much and how hard would it be to quit?"

Why is Drinking Such a Large Part of Teacher Culture?

Well, drinking culture is pretty prevalent in all professions where there is a lot of stress. Decompressing at happy hour, or with our "lesson planning juice" is accepted as a fun, appropriate reward. Parents often gift us wine, and even Trader Joe's this year had a huge banner over crates of wine in September proclaiming them "back to school supplies."

Teaching is very stressful, and many teachers cope with these intense demands and emotional exhaustion by turning to alcohol as a quick relief. Unwinding with coworkers over drinks or opening up a bottle of wine alone after a long week provides temporary respite from the strain. It's an easy, accessible way to decompress that offers instant gratification.

On top of intense pressure, teaching can also be an isolating profession. Time for adult interaction and collaboration is scarce during busy school days. Grabbing drinks with colleagues is often the only quality bonding time teachers share. Talking over margaritas creates a sense of community and validation that's hard to achieve elsewhere.

It's Just a Glass of Wine, or a Couple of Beers - What's the Problem?

Well, there's is no problem with a glass or two of wine, until you have that nagging feeling that maybe there is. In the last few years there has been an increasing trend for people who don't have what is normally categorized as a "problem" with drinking, to become curious about the longterm health and emotional benefits of cutting back or cutting out alcohol.

Many people start with a "Dry January", to give their body a rest after the over indulgences of the holidays. Beyond the physical reset, Dry January offers the opportunity to rethink your relationship with alcohol. Do you reach for a glass of wine or a beer every evening without thinking? Are weekends an excuse for excessive drinking? By taking off the month, you can analyze your habits with a fresh perspective.

What Are the Health Benefits of Cutting Back on Alcohol?

As mentioned before, one of the reasons a drink after school is so appealing is that it offers instant gratification and the perception of relaxation and unwinding after a hard day. I say "perception of relaxation" because science tells us that the instant win of "taking the edge of" comes at a greater cost of increased overall anxiety and poorer sleep. Here are just a few sources backing this up:

Better sleep is just one of the health advantages of cutting back or eliminating alcohol. Other health benefits include:

  • Improved liver function and cardiovascular health. Your liver can fully repair and restore itself when it's no longer processing ethanol. Your blood pressure and heart health will also improve without regular alcohol consumption.
  • Boosted energy levels and immunity. Hangovers and disrupted sleep cycles drain our energy. Saying no to drinking provides more consistent energy, plus a stronger immune system.
  • Better emotional regulation and mental clarity. Alcohol is a depressive - it suppresses our emotions. You'll be able to better cope with stress and have an overall improved mood without mood-altering substances. Your concentration and productivity will also benefit from eliminated brain fog.
  • Healthier personal relationships. Excessive drinking often negatively impacts marriages, families, friendships and work relationships. Sober living allows you to rebuild trust and be fully present with loved ones.
  • Significant cost savings. When you calculate expenses like bars tabs, liquor, Uber rides, and takeout food when drinking, giving it up saves a tremendous amount of money. This is money you could be spending on other fun "self-care" such as massages, mani-pedis, ball games with your friends.
  • Improved self-confidence and willpower. Making the big decision to permanently quit drinking builds willpower and self-belief that extends to other areas of your life.

Tips for Teachers to Make Your Dry January Successful:

  • Find an accountability partner. Recruit a colleague, friend, or family member to join you for added motivation. Check in throughout the month to discuss benefits, challenges etc.
  • Stock up on mocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Explore delicious NA beer, wine, spirits and fun zero proof drink recipes. Having satisfying alternatives can help curb cravings.
  • Plan ahead for potentially tricky situations like dinners out, parties, and weekends. Having NA options on hand and an exit strategy eliminates temptation and peer pressure.
  • Take it one day at a time. Don't worry about 30+ days without alcohol. Just focus on getting through each day successfully. The days will add up quickly.
  • Invest your newfound free time and energy in healthy activities and rewards. Squeeze in that workout, passion project, hobby or home organization you've put off. 
  • Rather than white-knuckling it through January, intentionally plan new relaxing rituals as "sober treats" - bubble baths, massages, mornings reading with coffee.
  • Join an online community for support and inspiration. Connecting with others doing Dry January makes the journey much more manageable.

Bottom line? If you are curious about what your mind and body would feel like without relying on alcohol (or recreational drugs, or Tylenol PM), participating in Dry January is an excellent place to start.

Taking off even one month allows your body to re-balance and drops cortisol levels. You'll likely be amazed how much better you sleep, your brighter eyes and skin, lifted mood and energy. This clarity helps you see how alcohol may be influencing you without even realizing it.

For support with Dry January, or any time you want to try alcohol free living, check out the excellent FREE resource, and see where the adventure leads you.

Free 30-Day Sober Guide - https://hellosomedaycoaching.com/30-day-sober-guide/  
Podcast - https://hellosomedaycoaching.com/podcast/ 


Educator Friend, are you ready to take back control of your time and energy? Do you need a CRASH COURSE in:

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  • The exact steps and scripts needed to "say" no in a student-focused way to demanding administrators and parents?
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