Jackie Daniel going dry in January

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Jackie Daniel

24 / 12 / 2014 1.12pm

Jackie Daniel, chief executive, University Hospitals of Morecombe Bay NHS Foundation Trust tells us why she's taking up the Dry January challenge and taking an optimistic look ahead to her plans for 2015. She feels it's the perfect opportunity to really challenge her approach to booze.

Alcohol occupies a hugely entrenched position in UK culture. We often think nothing of a few drinks after work, a bottle of wine at the weekends, or even the occasional shot of Tequila on a night out. I and many others are asking ourselves why this has become the norm and how it affects us. I am thinking how much better I will feel by taking a break.

The consequences of overindulging on alcohol are well documented. As someone who has spent a lifetime’s career in the NHS – excessive alcohol consumption has a bi-product I am well aware of. I'm interested in the impact of alcohol consumption which sits below the radar. Regular, lower levels of alcohol consumption may not necessarily be seen as excessive but the impact on people’s mental, physical and social wellbeing can be devastating.

Dry January aims to encourage people to witness the benefits of not drinking first hand, to challenge the alcohol drinking culture of the UK and to inspire debate across the general public. It also of course provides an excellent platform to fundraise for a well-deserved charity.

I am conscious of the conversations had with friends, family and colleagues over the years that they know at times they are drinking too much and more than the recommended guidelines. The impact of knowing this and continuing to do so can be debilitating and undoubtedly has an impact on self-esteem as well as physical wellbeing.  I know myself that during the periods I have abstained for periods of time I have generally felt better, had more energy, been more inclined to exercise, slept better and lost weight. What is not to like about that?

So over the course of the next few weeks I am hoping to generate debate and discussion about the benefits of alcohol free living. I hope to challenge the awkwardness there is when attending a social event without booze, generate discussion about the habits which have become so commonplace they are regarded as normal. For example I know people who regularly on crossing the threshold of home reach for a glass of chilled white to reward themselves for getting through the day. I plan to discuss with colleagues and friends the healthy habits we can deploy to help us deal with even the toughest days.

I feel ready and committed to the challenge! I have no doubt there will be tough times during the next month where the easy route would be pouring a relaxingdrink or two. I will be sharing my journey in my own organisation and be encouraging others to join me. I have also agreed to post regular updates on this site.

Here goes…..DRY JANUARY here I come!

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