After the indulgences of Christmas and the festive season, January is often a month of repentance, whether that’s to start exercising or eating more healthily, or to take part in Dry January and have a break from alcohol.
The Dry January challenge can feel like a fresh and cleansing way to start a new year, but it also has real benefits for your body and your lifestyle. Here are just a few reasons why it’s worth taking part and going alcohol-free for January.
For your body – There are lots of different ways going alcohol-free can potentially improve your physical wellbeing, from lowering blood pressure and cholesterol to reducing the risk of diabetes.
It can also help you to look less tired and to feel calmer and more relaxed. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it can make it harder to stay properly hydrated, leading to dry, dull-looking skin. Drinking can also interrupt your ability to get restful sleep, and 70% of people said they slept better after quitting alcohol for a month, and 66% said they had more energy.
For your lifestyle – One of the obvious benefits of going alcohol-free is that you’ll be saving money. Bottles of wine, beers, or spirits can all be expensive, and buying them several times a month can quickly add up.
Drink can also become a quick fix for stress and anxiety, but this can quickly lead to problems. Relying on alcohol can actually make problems like depression and anxiety worse, and won’t solve stress or worry in the long run. Going alcohol free for a month could help to bring a new perspective on sources of stress or worry in your life, and make it clearer how you can tackle them for good.
Buddy up with a friend – Tackling Dry January on your own can be daunting, so recruit a friend, housemate, or family member to take the challenge with you. This means you can support each other through the tougher times and celebrate your victories together.
Replace habits – If you’re used to cracking open a bottle of red after work, it can be hard for your brain to resist the urge and break the habit. One method is to replace one habit with another (but make it a beneficial habit, of course.) That after work drink could instead be when you do 15 minutes of exercise or meditation, or do something creative like draw or write. You’ll be surprised what you can get done, and what positive new habits you might develop.
Drink something else – If doing another activity just isn’t scratching that itch to have a drink, you could try whipping up some non-alcoholic options. A mocktail can give you that feeling of indulgence, or you could make a delicious fruit smoothie to boost your mood and your intake of vitamins.
Making a success of Dry January is not only an achievement in itself but can also help you to stick to healthier drinking habits all through the year. Research by the University of Sussex found that Dry January had a lasting impact for those who take on the challenge, with 70% of people drinking more healthily throughout the year.
Being alcohol free for a month can help to show other ways to relax and have fun, and can break bad habits that will hopefully last throughout the year.
You can get support and resources for your Dry January challenge from its official organiser, Alcohol Change UK, and download their app or sign up for emails here.
At Ramsay Health Care we have specialists in alcohol misuse and addiction, as well as treatment and support for a wide range of issues including depression and anxiety. Speak to us today if you’d like to arrange an appointment or find out more about our hospitals around the UK.