Do you think you can give up alcohol for one month? Well if you are up for the challenge then you should give Dry January a go! The aim of doing this is to give the body a break from alcohol, which can be good for our mental and physical health.
Many people report a great sense of accomplishment after finishing the whole month without any drinks at all! This blog will tell you everything there is to know about dry January: what it's about, how it benefits your health as well as tips on how to get through the month.
What is Dry January?
The idea behind Dry January is that by quitting alcohol, you'll be able to see what life is like without it. Being alcohol free for a month allows us to see that we don’t need alcohol to relax, have fun or to socialise. It also helps us to improve the skills we need to manage our drinking more healthily.
For the rest of the year, we are better placed to make decisions about when we drink and how much, and this way we can avoid slipping into patterns of drinking more than we are happy with. Research conducted by the University of Sussex showed that after six months those who took the dry January challenge were still drinking more healthily and had increased levels of general wellbeing.
What are the benefits of dry January?
The benefits of dry January are plentiful! Some people do this challenge to save money, others for their health. You'll be surprised at all the improvements you see once your body has a break from alcohol.
Help to kick start your Moderation Journey
Abstaining from alcohol even for one month can help those who want to kick start their moderation journey with alcohol while taking some time off from it as well! Many of my clients who are successful moderators regularly have a month break to reset.
Lose Weight Without Trying
People have been known to lose weight during Dry January since alcohol is high in calories because of the fermentation process to make it. So just removing alcohol from your diet over this time can see you losing weight without even trying.
Get Better Sleep
Studies have shown that alcohol can interfere with the quality of sleep you get a night. It's been said to disrupt your melatonin production and mess up your circadian rhythm so it's important for people who are already struggling with their sleep cycle to stop drinking at least for one month. You'll be surprised by how much better you're sleeping once you remove the booze.
Have better relationships
Research has shown that alcohol is a social lubricant and can be used to get through dormant periods in conversations. But it's been found by studies that the more you drink, the less likely people are going to want to talk with you which means your relationships may suffer, so dry January can help you connect with others on a more meaningful level.
Save more Money
Not only does your body get some much-needed rest but so do your bank account! When you're not constantly buying beer or wine at bars, restaurants, grocery stores etc., you'll start saving money almost immediately after going on this challenge. That's right: NO MORE DRINKING EXPENSES! You can put these towards a house deposit or even your next holiday as a reward for lasting the month without alcohol.
You Skin will be Glowing
Not consuming alcohol on a regular basis means there is also a benefit to your skin! Quitting alcohol, even for a month can help improve blood circulation which means you will have better-looking skin. In addition, quitting drinking may reduce acne breakouts as well as lessen the chance that blemishes or age spots form on your face.
Drink more water
It's been proven that the average person needs at least eight cups of water per day but most people don't meet this goal. Dry January is a perfect time to drink up as you're not consuming alcohol so your body will be able to flush out toxins easier which means better skin. The British Association of dieticians BDA suggests that the average adult should drink between 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day.
More focus & less procrastination at work
Quitting alcohol for a month will also help you get more done at work. Research has found that individuals who abstain from drinking feel less stressed, have improved concentration and productivity and generally function better throughout the day.
Other health benefits happen from the inside
A month can have a lot of benefits to your overall health research published in 2018, undertaken by the Royal Free Hospital reported that a month off alcohol helps to,
•Lower blood pressure
•Reduce diabetes risk
•Reduce levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.
6 Tips for you to survive and thrive in Dry January
Store you alcohol out of sight or in the garage - It's important that you remove temptation but it can be worth going a step further and making the decision not to buy alcohol for the duration of January. Remember out of sight out of mind!
Schedule an activity when you would usually be drinking alcohol - Whether it's a Sunday evening or Monday night, find a replacement activity that you can do when your friends are drinking alcohol. This will help to avoid temptation and make sure you're not missing out on anything. Why not try an exercise class, download a new series on Netflix or even take up a new hobby!
Plan ahead for social events - If there is an event coming up in January where people would usually be drinking alcohol, pack some sparkling water or a non-alcohol drink (like a 0.5% or 0% beer or cider) and don't overthink the fact that you're not drinking, your friends probably won't even notice!
Write down your ‘why’ and what you want to get out of the month - Are you giving up as a challenge to yourself? Are you wanting to lose weight or save for a holiday in the summer? Write down the reasons why so this way if you are tempted by the thought of drinking alcohol you will remember your reasons why.
Challenge yourself to try a different non-alcoholic drink each day - If you're not used to drinking water, try infusing it with fruit or adding a slice of lemon for flavour. If you like fizzy drinks look into the range of sugar-free versions available on the market and if cola is your thing then check out caffeine-free varieties! If you still want a beer or cider there are fabulous 0% and 0.5% options available now to try - see if you can get through them all in January.
Track Your Progress - Track your progress or even download an app to track your drinking. The most popular app I recommend to my clients to help then track what they are drinking each week is from called Try Dry from Alcohol Change.
If you’ve read this far, it may seem like a lot of work to undertake Dry January. But the benefits are worth it! You might find your sleep improves, your skin clears up and you feel less bloated after drinking alcohol. And if that isn't enough for you, there is also the social aspect of participating in Dry January where people who support each other can help one another stay on track with their goals or even lend some good-spirited competition motivation.
Whatever reason drives you to participate in dry month and whatever challenges arise along the way - I am here to help so if you need additional support before, during or after Dry January? Please get in touch and find out how I can help you take control of your drinking for good!
Frequently Asked Questions on Dry January
I personally don’t think so. A drink that contains 0.5% alcohol is not technically free from alcohol, but you would need to drink 10 times a 0.5% beer to equal one typical 5% beer. However, it's almost impossible to get drunk on non-alcoholic beer (up to 0.5%) if you’re a healthy adult since your body can process the alcohol in the drink almost as quickly as you can drink it.
Researchers in Germany found in this 2012 study where 67 people abstained from drinking alcohol for five days then drank 1.5 litres (about 2.6 pints) of 0.4% ABV beer in an hour. The researchers measured their blood alcohol content throughout the experiment. The maximum blood alcohol content they measured was 0.0056% which is still 14 times lower that the drink driving limit in England (0.08%)
People who are physically or psychologically dependent on alcohol should seek advice from a health professional before they commit to Dry January.