Dry January: Benefits, Tips To Succeed, And More!
January is considered the month of evolution and self-reflection. By the end of December, festivities come to an end, and January is the time to start things new.
Dry January is a worldwide campaign that Alcohol Change UK first promoted, an NGO which works for charity and awareness of alcohol addiction. This year sees the 10th anniversary of the Dry January Campaign. In simpler words, Dry January means abstaining from alcohol usage for 31 days in January. In the following article, you will gain a more detailed overview of Dry January and its myriad benefits.
What Is Meant By Dry January?
Inspired by the idea of a Businessman Frank Posillico, Emily Robinson who was associated with the NGO group Alcohol Concern started the campaign known as Dry January in 2012. The proper delivery of the campaign was in 2013 by Alcohol Concern which is currently known as Alcohol Change UK.
Dry January is a campaign in which people are motivated to abstain from alcohol for the whole month of January. Around 4,000 people participated in this campaign in its first endorsement in 2013. The campaign was even supported by the research experts such as Dr. Richard de Visser, a Reader in Health Psychology (Primary Care & Public Health) from the University of Sussex.
As per the study he made on the people who took part in the campaign, he found out that 7 out of 10 people have started drinking moderately after many years of heavy drinking. In 2015, the campaign was partnered with Public Health England to spread more awareness of its myriad of benefits. 2023 is the 10th anniversary of the Dry January campaign. As drinking alcohol is greatly embedded in British culture, the campaign provides healthy abstinence from alcohol that can reduce its intake and consumption.
Benefits of Dry January
Abstaining from alcohol for one month has proven benefits for your body and mind. Even if you are giving up drinking for one month, it can be helpful for your health and can also motivate you to practice moderate drinking habits in the future. A study published in the British Medical Journal elucidated that short-term abstinence from alcohol can have a positive impact on relieving cardiovascular risk factors, cancer-related growth factors, and liver function tests.
Some of the other health benefits of Dry January are listed below:
👉🏻 Weight loss: One month of alcohol abstinence can lead to considerable weight loss. Studies have shown that one of the factors that make you resistant to weight loss can be alcohol. Unlike other nutrients, your body has to perform extra for eliminating alcohol. Along with that it can mess with your hormones and disrupt the quality of your sleep. All these factors coupled together can lead to weight gain from alcohol. When you abstain from alcohol for one month, your body regains back the normal digestion process and you start experiencing weight loss.
👉🏻 Better Sleep: A study published in the journal Substance Abuse in 2005 found that sleep disturbance and alcohol consumption has a connection. Such studies show that excessive drinking can hinder the smooth functioning of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) which is an important stage in deep sleep. When you practice Dry January, you abstain from alcohol and as a result, you can experience better and quality sleep.
👉🏻 Restoration of your immune system: Excessive drinking poses a serious threat to your immune system as alcohol can kill the necessary cells that play a crucial role in immunity. It can also reduce the antibodies that fight against certain infections. When you participate in the Dry January campaign, your body recovers from alcohol poisoning and thereby your immune system will get restored.
👉🏻 Protects your liver: Unhealthy drinking can lead to the accumulation of fats in your liver which will lead to alcoholic fatty liver disease. The liver is an important organ in your body that filters out toxins from your blood and improves your digestion. When you cut back from alcohol for a month, your liver gets time to heal from the inflammation caused by excessive drinking.
👉🏻 Balances your blood pressure: Studies have shown that excessive drinking can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Research conducted on individuals who abstained from alcohol consumption for a month showed that their blood pressure levels were reduced by 5%.
👉🏻 Opportunity to reassess the relationship with alcohol: One of the crucial benefits of following a Dry January is that you will get an opportunity to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. When you abstain from drinking for a month, you can identify how drinking constitutes a deterioration of your mental and physical health. This will lead you to take proper precautions next time and will help you to practice healthy drinking habits.
Pros and Cons of Dry January
Since its first implementation in 2013, a dramatic increase in participation in Dry January had been recorded. Realizing its several benefits, many have been coming forward to follow the practice. But on analyzing the practice on a deeper level, one can understand that it has got some pros and cons too. Check out the pros and cons of Dry January below:
- Aids in weight loss
- Improves the quality of your sleep
- Increase your energy and well-being
- Enhances your immune system
- Improves your skin complexion
- You can save money
- Reassess the relationship with alcohol
- Balanced blood pressure levels
- Side effects due to sudden withdrawal
- Limited chances for socialization
- Lack of proper research in evidencing its effectiveness
- Chances for slipping back
- Not healthy for everyone
Tips to make Dry January successful
A month of abstaining from alcohol can be difficult and for most people, it will be really hard work. But there are some tips you can adhere to in case of succeeding at Dry January. Some of them are given below:
✅ List out your goals: If you are planning to participate in Dry January, set up a list of goals first. You can write them down somewhere. Writing down your goals can increase the probability of you finishing the task at hand.
✅ Replace your drink with some non-alcoholic substitutes: You can replace your drink with non-alcoholic drinks such as mocktails, soda, sparkling water, etc. So even if you are pressured by certain social situations to drink, you can choose a drink with zero alcohol content.
✅ Identify your triggers: Most of the time, there can be certain triggers that prompt you to drink. Identify these triggers and cut them completely to not drink alcohol again. These can be certain locations, situations, or times.
✅ Create a support system: If you are planning to give up on alcohol for a month, let your friends know about it. When you have a support system to follow through with the Dry January practice, chances for the practice to be successful will be higher. This can create an environment where you feel entitled to go along the rules of the Dry January.
✅ Set a record of your drinking: You can keep a track of your drinking habit with the use of an app or a journal. In this, you can record the number of days that have passed without a drink and the days you have slipped back. Keeping a record of your drinking pattern can make you more accustomed to following through with the process of abstaining.
Also read: 5 Ingredients To Include In Every Meal To Lose Weight And Get Healthy!
Dry January can be a healthier practice both for your mind and body. Abstaining from drinking for a whole month can detox your body and elevate its functioning. Many studies have already found the benefits offered by following a Dry January scheme. Some of them include better sleep, weight loss, balanced levels of blood pressure, immunity boost, mental health improvement, etc.
You can adopt certain tips to successfully follow the Dry January practice. Writing down your goals and building a support group can be effective steps in this procedure. If you have an extreme condition of alcoholism it is always better to consult your doctor before enrolling in practices such as Dry January.