What is Dry January and why should I do it?
The idea of not drinking in January originated in 1942 when the Finnish government launched a “Sober January” campaign. In 2013 Alcohol Change UK trademarked the name and “Dry January” was launched and has become very popular as the years go on.
There are many reasons people choose not to drink for the first 31 days of January which vary from detoxing their bodies, saving money, or testing their willpower, but are there real benefits?
Research by the Royal Free Hospital published in the British Medical Journal concluded that dry January has a lot of benefits. These include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and reducing the risk of diabetes and levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood. This in addition to possible weight loss and improved moods seems like a no-brainer. However, health experts warn that it really needs to be sustained over longer periods to have a real impact and people need to change their drinking patterns and not overindulge in “Wet February”.
So, what are some of the other health benefits you will see if you do dry January?
1. Improved mood
You may think that sipping a glass of wine is relaxing and makes your mood improve. However, if you are relying on alcohol as a main coping strategy, you will find that in the long term it may hide other issues like depression or anxiety. You might find that not drinking can stabilise your mood better and will leave you in less of an emotional downer in the morning.
If you are concerned about a possible Mental Health issue, taking a step away from alcohol can help you to get some clarity and to determine if you need to maybe speak to a doctor or get some therapy to help you cope further.
2. Better Sleep
After a night of drinking out with friends, you might find that your sleep is disturbed as alcohol interferes with chemicals in our body which help us relax and sleep. It can also affect your REM sleep making you wake up feeling groggy in the morning. By participating in a dry January, you might find that you get better sleep and have more energy to focus on your new year’s resolutions.
3. Potential weight loss
If you were drinking a lot, you could even lose a few pounds by not drinking in January. Alcoholic beverages often contain high amounts of calories or make you feel bloated, and they also come with bad habits like eating junk food after a night out. Changing these habits to healthier food and drink options will give your body a break and help you to potentially lose weight and create new habits going forward.
4. Save money
Drinking out can be costly and if you have been buying fancy cocktails and binging on junk food after partying then the bills can add up quickly. According to Alcohol Change UK, 86% of people who do Dry January end up saving money. This doesn’t mean you don’t socialise in January; it simply means maybe ordering a nice healthy cocktail, without the alcohol, you will still feel like you are having fun, but for half the price.
5. Get things done
When you wake up hungover you tend to be less productive and often sleep the day away. By not drinking alcohol you can wake up feeling invigorated and ready to tackle the tasks for the day. If you have New Year’s resolutions you will feel like you are in a better head space to achieve them, especially if some of them are exercise orientated. This sense of pride in achieving your goals or getting things done will not only make you feel more productive but will also give you better control over your Mental Health and positivity for the new year.
How to have a successful Dry January?
One of the best ways to have a successful dry January is to recruit your partner or a friend. Doing it together can help to keep you on track and make you more accountable. Another great way to achieve your goal is to change your routine or start something new. So, for example, instead of going for drinks after work, maybe go for a run or join an exercise class with friends. Not only will you have a surge in energy, but you will also feel more positive about yourself.
Participating in Dry January doesn’t mean you have to stay at home and not socialise or have fun. Just look for some different drink alternatives, like mocktails, sparkling water in a wine glass or fruit-infused drinks so that you feel part of the action.
If the pub creates too much of a temptation, look for other healthier ways to meet your friends, like doing an escape room, going to the movies or night golf. These activities will still enable you to socialise but without the temptation of alcohol.
If you think you are up for the challenge sign up for Dry January on Alcohol Change UK, download their App and you will get access to their tools and resources to help make you succeed.
If you believe you or a family member needs some help Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. They can be contacted if you are worried about your own or someone else’s drinking and the calls to the helpline are free on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm and weekends from 11am to 4pm.)
Lastly, if you would like to talk to us about Mental Health training in the workplace courses across the UK, please call us on 01276 586943 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for hassle-free bookings.