February 25, 2021
Dry January: How giving up alcohol for 31 days can improve your health

Dry January: How giving up alcohol for 31 days can improve your health


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As the New Year approaches, many will resolve to drink less alcohol or give it up completely. If you can’t fathom the thought of going the whole year without your favorite adult beverage, consider Dry January instead. 

This popular annual tradition involves a short-term commitment to sobriety. Beginning Jan. 1, thousands of people will give up alcohol for one full month, and apparently, those 31 days significantly improve your health. 

Considering temporary teetotalism? Keep reading for everything you should know about Dry January, from the benefits of sobriety to the best non-alcoholic beverages.

Please note: While Dry January can be a fun way to temporarily reduce your alcohol intake and improve your health, if you need help cutting back on drinking or think you might have an alcohol dependency, visit the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for additional resources.

Benefits of Dry January

It’s absolutely no secret that alcohol wrecks your body. Alcohol messes with virtually all of your organs, from your brain to your heart to, of course, your liver. Alcohol consumption is linked to certain cancers, suppressed immunity, digestive problems and more. 

Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption can improve your health in many ways — but it might sound silly to give up alcohol for a month, because what can 31 short days do? 

Surprisingly (or not), research suggests that taking short breaks from alcohol can do wonders for your health. 

If you try Dry January, you might experience

  • Improved sleep
  • More alertness and reduced daytime fatigue
  • Fewer headaches 
  • Better focus and productivity 
  • Improved exercise performance 
  • More good moods and fewer mood swings
  • Weight loss
  • Stronger immune system
  • Increased hydration

Why do people do Dry January? 

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People often partake in Dry January for health-related reasons.


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People choose to do Dry January for a variety of reasons. You might consider trying Dry January if: 

  • You’re trying to reach a health-related goal. For instance, avoiding alcohol may help you lose weight and improve physical fitness performance. 
  • You want to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. 
  • You’ve been drinking more than usual lately and want to reset. 
  • You’re supporting a friend or family member who wants to quit drinking alcohol.
  • You just want to see how it feels to be sober for a month.

How to do Dry January

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Enjoy your last drink on New Year’s Eve before committing to a month of no alcohol.


Getty Images

In theory, Dry January sounds simple: Just stop drinking alcohol, right? However, even people who reserve booze for special occasions might struggle to make it a full month with no alcohol.

Try these tips to make Dry January go smoothly: 

  • Commit to the month with a friend (or a few). You can all help hold each other accountable. 
  • Inform your friends and family you’re doing Dry January ahead of time, and keep reinforcing it so they know not to offer you drinks — because sometimes, saying “no” is the hardest part. 
  • Stock up on non-alcoholic beverages (like the ones listed below) to sip on in place of your favorite boozy beverages. 
  • Choose different activities to fill time you’d normally spend drinking. For example, instead of watching TV and drinking wine, play a board game, read a book, complete a puzzle, call your mom or draw a picture. Learning a new skill can help you stay occupied. 
  • Invite your friends to coronavirus-safe and non-alcoholic outings, such as group walks or outdoor phone photography sessions at a pretty location.

Non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy

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Mocktails over cocktails.


Chowhound

For many people, alcohol is more ritualistic, cultural or social than anything. I, for one, love ending the work week with a glass of wine — it’s not so much the buzz I love, but the indication another long week is over and I have a few nights to relax. 

In social settings, it often feels weird to be the only one without a drink in hand. And if you come from a culture where alcohol is a central element at any gathering, discomfort might intensify. Luckily, you can still enjoy your rituals and gatherings with the multitude of non-alcoholic beverages available thanks to the sober-curious trend. 

This list is far from exhaustive, but here are some tasty non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits to try this Dry January: 

Non-alcoholic beer

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Heneiken 0.0 non-alcoholic beer.


Heineken

Non-alcoholic wine

Non-alcoholic spirits

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Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits. 


Food52

Dry January precautions

If you think you might have an alcohol dependency, Dry January may not be the best route for you. While it’s admirable to recognize dangerous drinking habits and attempt to cut back, those with a dependency or addiction may experience withdrawal symptoms from cutting alcohol out suddenly and going cold turkey. If you think you need help with your drinking habits, you should research addiction specialists in your area, find an Alcoholics Anonymous group near you, talk to your doctor or call a helpline

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.



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