Better late than never, right?
The last few months of every year are filled with booze, booze, and more booze.
Between Halloween happy hours, Thanksgiving tipples, Christmas themed cocktails and New Years Knees Ups, giving your body a break come January has become a global trend.
This concept, known as ‘Dry January’ was coined by the charity Alcohol Change and has caught on all around the world. From January 1st, until the 31st, participants engage in an entire month of sobriety.
But, what if you didn’t jump on the dry January trend and you’ve already continued in to the new year drinking?
What if you’ve realised a few days or weeks in that actually one of the best things you could do for yourself is gift yourself a month (or more) of abstinence?
Despite the term dry January, you can start / end a month of alcohol-free living anytime of the year. Believe it or not you don’t need a special time to reap the endless benefits sobriety has to offer.
If you feel discouraged because you missed the beginning of dry January, don’t worry! We’re here to give you encouragement and all the best tips for 30 days of living alcohol-free.
Why participate in ‘Dry January’?
It’s not always about giving your body a clean detox to start the new year. While this is a huge reason, the mindset behind dry January is actually a bit deeper.
Dry January is all about allowing you to take a step back from your regular routine drinking habits and re-evaluate your relationship with liquor, without making any firm long-term decisions.
If you find you can’t socialize without a drink in your hand, or you’ve been downing one too many glasses of wine after work every night, taking the plunge into a dry month may be incredibly insightful for you.
No, you don’t have to have hit rock bottom to begin taking a closer look at the way you consume alcohol. In fact, it’s far better to take those steps now before it snowballs into a bigger problem!
Getting a late start? Why it’s not a problem:
The concept of dry January has nothing to do with the fact that you’re abstaining from alcohol in January.
Since dry January is all about taking a step back from drinking in order to reset your priorities, allow your body to rest, and give you time to see troubling patterns more clearly, it truly doesn’t matter if you start January 1st or August 15th!
It’s all about setting a goal of observing your relationship with alcohol for a month. So, even if you’ve already had a few cocktails this year so far, you still have the entire month of January to begin!
It may be a challenge at first, and some days may feel harder than others; however, with time and perseverance you’ll begin to see some of the benefits of living alcohol free within just a few days.
Benefits of doing a ‘Dry Month’:
No matter what time of year you choose to participate, there are countless physical and emotional benefits that come along with choosing to abstain from drinking for a month.
Would it surprise you if I told you many of these benefits last well beyond a month? It’s true.
A month without booze isn’t an absurd amount of time, yet it’s often the perfect length to begin developing new, healthier habits.
A few of the most prominent benefits of a ‘dry Month’ include:
Improved quality of sleep.
Less waking in the night.
Lower stress levels.
Increased energy level.
Less bloating, heartburn, and indigestion.
Better memory and mental sharpness.
Lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Not only does engaging in a month of sobriety improve nearly every area of your health, a University of Sussex study found long-term changes in drinking habits months, even years after. On average, those who participated in dry January drank one less day per week even 8 months later.
Tips for when your starting out your own 'Dry Month'
Whether you’re starting out 2023 alcohol free, or you’re considering another month this year it’s important to prepare yourself. You may not realise how much you rely on alcohol until you don’t have it available anymore.
Setting yourself up for a successful dry month is the best way to ensure you make it through and gain the full benefits it has to offer. Here are a few tips to get you started:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of trying to do an entire month without drinking, start with a week.
It’s shorter and more manageable, and if it goes well for you, then consider extending it to a month.
That way, instead of just saying “no” to alcohol one day in a row and then falling off the wagon (if only temporarily), you can build up your strength over time until you feel ready for Dry January or any other dry period.
Try a new hobby or activity:
You’ll likely have free time that used to be filled with socialising at the bars, or going out to get drunk. This is when filling your calendar will come in handy.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, or have been itching to learn something new, try taking up a new hobby.
There are plenty of options out there:
- Learn a language.
- Get involved in a new outdoors activity.
- Learn how to play an instrument—maybe the guitar or piano?
- Sign up for a dance class! You’ll be able to kick up your heels and get your heart rate going at the same time.
If none of these ideas appeal to you but you still want to start something new in January (or at any time of the year) don’t worry! There are plenty of places that offer classes on everything from gardening and cooking to writing novels and painting landscapes.
Just do some online research and see what piques your interest. Once you’ve found something, sign up! It’s important that you keep yourself motivated by keeping your goals in mind—and if signing up for classes will help keep them front-and-centre, then go ahead and do it!
Other tips to help you along the way:
- Replace alcohol with a fun non-alcoholic beverage. There’s some great AF alternatives on the market.
- Focus on healthy eating
- Increase your exercise (yoga, running, swimming, pilates).
- Add some relaxing meditation to your day if you can’t seem to relax without drinking first…or second, or third…or all night long!
- Avoid places you know will tempt you.
- Find a support group online.
- Identify and write down your personal why: What is the reason you’re going to participate? And check back on it as a daily reminder.
- Be vocal about your commitment: that way you won’t have friends calling you to go out for a drink!
- Download a support app to help hold yourself accountable. Like the Totiuss support group for women.
It’s never too late to begin:
While it’s convenient to take a month off from drinking during the month of January when everyone else seems to be doing it – there’s never a time of the year better than others.
Whatever month works best for you may not work best for someone else, and vice versa.
No matter when you decide to try a dry month the purpose doesn’t change: taking a month off from drinking in order to re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol, detox your body, and build healthier habits.
You don’t need to wait until January to start your journey. You can start today! It’s never too late.