When the New Year approaches, many people find it a great time to reset and cool off. Especially after the big and festive meals during the holidays, many people make a New Year’s resolution to start eating healthier and exercising regularly, for example. The holidays are also a time when many of us enjoy our fair share of alcoholic beverages. Between the holiday season, happy hours and group outings, fortified eggnog, festive cocktails, Christmas wines and craft beers while spending free time with family and friends, you your liver may feel like it needs a break. Dry January was designed for exactly that purpose: to encourage people to abstain from alcohol for the entire month, with the goal of restoring both your physical health and your healthy relationship with alcohol.
If you’ve never been to Dry January before, it might seem intimidating or downright pointless, but you might be surprised at how beneficial it can be and that it’s totally doable with a little discipline, flexibility and planning. So, if you’re looking for a different way to improve your health and start the year with taking care of your body, keep reading our guide to dry January to help you take an alcohol-free month and be healthier.
What is the dry month of January?
Launched in 2013 by a UK organization called Alcohol change in UK, Dry January, which now has millions of followers worldwide each year, aims to help adults improve their health and restore their relationship with alcohol use by challenging them to abstain from alcohol throughout the month of January. What started as a simple initiative now features a robust app and a host of online support resources, helping participants meet their goals and stay sober for the 31-day challenge. There are also plenty of non-alcoholic beverage companies with zero-proof options, offering Dry January attendees alternatives for social, ritual, and flavorful substitutes for their favorite alcoholic beverages.
Benefits of dry january
Refraining from alcohol during the dry month of January can lead to several key benefits, including the following:
It may help you sleep better
Alcohol can interrupt normal sleep patterns and prevent deep sleep. You may also wake up groggy or have a hangover.
It can help you lose weight
Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, which is almost twice as much as carbohydrates and protein. Most alcoholic beverages are also loaded with sugar, and since drinking is often accompanied by snacks or feasts, cutting out alcohol can work wonders in reducing height.
It can save you money
Let’s face it: a trip to the bar or a nice bottle of wine can get pretty expensive, so your wallet can enjoy some nice padding by attending Dry January.
It can improve markers of health
To research shows that reducing your alcohol consumption can lower your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
It can help improve and stabilize your mood
While the short-term effects of a drink or two can include a bubbly, gregarious, and upbeat mood, alcohol is actually a depressant and can negatively impact your mental health, especially when binge drinking. alcohol is chronic or you are dealing with addiction issues.
It can keep you more secure
Alcohol has a negative impact on your coordination, reflexes, judgment and decision-making skills, and is associated with an increase in accidents. You can prevent these risks by abstaining during the dry month of January.
It can prevent bad decisions from being made
Have you ever enthusiastically accepted something after a fun night out at the bar only to regret it miserably the next day? We’ve all been there, but Dry January prevents alcohol impulsiveness and poor decision making.
It can strengthen your immune system
Studies show that excessive alcohol consumption can trigger an immune response and may contribute to a reduced ability to fight infection and disease. The dry month of January is a good time to boost your immune system, as colds and the flu tend to be rife during the winter months.
It can increase your energy
Alcohol can negatively impact energy levels by compromising sleep and generally depressing your nervous system.
It can improve your relationship with alcohol
Dry January can help you examine your relationship with alcohol and understand whether you rely on it as a stress coping mechanism, as a crutch in social situations, or if you feel some sort of addiction to it. By challenging yourself to finish Dry January, you may discover other potentially healthier alternatives to alcohol and you may find that you will resume drinking in the following months with a more balanced approach as well as an appreciation for non-alcoholic alternatives. alcoholic drinks to enjoy instead of as many drinks as you would have drunk before.
Tips for a successful dry January
These tips will help you navigate dry January and hopefully successfully abstain for the month.
- Involve your friends or relatives: Any challenge can be easier when you take it on with a partner or supportive friends. Get involved together because then you will all be looking for alcohol-free activities.
- Keep a diary: It might sound out of date or too delicate, but taking a few moments each day to write down how you are feeling can help you link alcohol to symptoms like bloating, low energy, and lack of sleep. You may notice a tendency over the month to abstain, where you don’t experience some of the normal negative effects you usually experience after a night out (or in) with a little too much.
- Change your routine: Drinking can be a habit. Maybe you open up a beer almost on autopilot when you get home from the office, grab an after-dinner scotch out of habit, or always have happy hour with your friends on Fridays. Changing your routine can suppress the normal stimulus to drink, making it seem like you aren’t missing out on your alcoholic drink. Instead, try going for a walk when you get home, playing an after-dinner game, or going to the gym instead of happy hour to suppress the triggers for drinking.
- Get creative with socialization: If many of your social events revolve around drinking or food, suggest alternatives like going bowling or an arcade, throwing baskets at the recreation center, or having coffee or tea.
- Take advantage of alcohol-free alternatives: There are great alcohol-free options for almost any type of alcohol, and you can even make healthy non-alcoholic cocktails. Check out our guide with all kinds of options for what to drink during the dry month of January.
- Keep the benefits in mind: When your motivation wanes, remind yourself of your reasons for doing Dry January, whether it’s to lose a few pounds, sleep better, cut back on spending, or reset your alcohol relationship. Keeping your “why” in mind can give you the courage to continue.
- Reward yourself: Pick alcohol-free rewards for yourself if you’re sticking to your goal of finishing dry January. The options are endless, but the suggestions include treating yourself and your partner to dinner at your favorite restaurant, buying a new pair of sneakers, going to the movies, or getting a massage.
- Get professional help: If you’re concerned about your relationship with alcohol, consider talking to your health care provider or seeking therapy or a support group.