Dry January offers the chance to kick start a healthy New Year by giving up alcohol for a whole month. Having started as a public health campaign by Alcohol Concern in 2011, it’s now in its eighth year. With five million Brits signing up in 2017, it’s clearly a popular movement that’s on the rise1.
What are the benefits?
Not drinking alcohol for a month has an array of health benefits. Not only will you have a better night’s sleep, but it can also help you to lose weight, have more energy, and enjoy a more positive outlook on life2. Cutting it out for a month can make our wallets happier too. And these are just the short-term benefits. Participating in Dry January can also help us re-assess our alcohol consumption, and the attitudes we have to our health in the long-term. Cutting down on alcohol can help to reduce the risk of liver and heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.
Dr William Alazawi, Consultant Hepatologist at BMI The Sloane Hospital said, "Going dry for a month can help in lots of ways. It can give your liver a rest and a chance to recover from all the food and drink we enjoyed in the run up to Christmas and New Year. Alcohol is full of calories, so a month off can help you lose weight and give your New Year’s gym resolution a bit of a boost. Avoiding alcohol can help you sleep better, wake up refreshed and feel more positive for the day ahead."
How to stick to it
Signing up is the easy part. It’s great to want to give your body (and bank balance) a break, but those bleak days in January can sometimes make it seem like a difficult challenge. Here are our top tips for making Dry January a success:
- Tell your family and friends
Making your intentions known is the first step to an alcohol-free month. Telling those close to you will help explain why you’re not having a glass of wine at dinner, or joining your mates for your usual Friday night pint. Not only will you get nods and smiles of encouragement, you may even inspire others to join you!
- Avoid temptation
Don’t have alcohol in your home and avoid places or social gatherings in January that will tempt you to drink. This can be difficult after the excesses of the festive season, but just think how much good you’re doing to your body. If you have to attend, volunteer to be the designated driver – that way you can easily refuse a tipple.
- Treat yourself
Why not put the money you’d normally spend on alcohol aside and see how much mounts up? You can then treat yourself to something totally alcohol-free! There are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained which don’t involve drinking – you could go to the cinema or arrange a day out with friends. Cutting out alcohol shouldn’t be a punishment; you can be successful if you make yourself feel good along the way.
- Monitor your progress
There’s nothing more rewarding then monitoring your progress and seeing your success. You can follow your progress with the calendar from Alcohol Concern, and they have a useful app. If the prospect of an entire month is daunting, give yourself even shorter goals to get through it.
Cutting down before cutting yourself off might be the best way to make Dry January a roaring success. To see what you’re capable of before the pressure’s on, try not drinking alcohol for a whole week. Your body won’t be in total shock once the New Year rolls around, and you’ll already have started to feel the benefits of reducing your alcohol intake.
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