The Habits of January
I start every year by doing my version of a Dry January. I cut processed sugar, alcohol, and caffeine out of my diet. It’s a great way to reset my tolerances, take a hard look at my bad habits, and give my body a break. More importantly, however, it’s a way to cut mind-altering substance consumption out of my daily routine. Although sugar, alcohol, and caffeine are socially acceptable, they are still forms of drugs. They produce chemical reactions in the mind, alter the body’s functioning, and are addictive. So, it deeply bothers me when I find myself craving such things, or - over the course of the year - becoming dependent on them to get me through the day. I like my mind, I respect my body, and I wish to be well both today and into the future. In order for me to achieve that I need to be conscientious about what I’m putting into my body... and why. Why. That’s the important detail. The tendency to stay up late puts me into a cycle of ‘needing’ coffee to get myself going. The caffeine in the coffee keeps me awake longer though, which means I stay up later, which means I’m even more likely to want coffee in the morning. When my alcohol consumption goes up so does my caffeine consumption. When my anxiety is high my alcohol and sugar consumption increases. One habit leads to another, one stressor to another. One less-than-caring treatment of my mind and body leads to more. And the ‘why’ becomes subconscious. It’s no longer based in pleasure, a treat, an occasion, a choice... It simply becomes normalized. It becomes a vicious cycle. A cycle that I religiously insist upon breaking in the beginning of each year. You may ask me why I don’t just cut sugar, alcohol, and caffeine out of my diet entirely... well, it’s because I’ve learned that it’s not sustainable to my lifestyle. I love treating myself to a doughnut, I savor the meditative time I spend over my cup of coffee each morning, and I enjoy a drink or two with friends at the end of the night. Such things, such moments, are important to me. I appreciate the experiences that these “drugs” are at the base of. I don’t wish to cut them out of my life entirely. But I refuse to let an altered state of mind and body become the norm. I like me. I like me without the help of sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. And as long as I can say that, I feel content with how I’m living, how I’m treating my body. However, it just plain feels good to hit the reset button every January.