Looking for some interesting resolutions for the new year? Read on to learn all about Dry January and how it can help jump-start your health goals in 2021!
As its name implies, Dry January is simply abstaining from drinking alcohol for the month of January. So no alcohol from January 1st until February 1st. There's nothing fancy or exciting about it-- it's just altering your drinking habits and abstaining from alcohol for a month.
Some people who aren't completely sold on total alcohol abstinence for the month might adopt a modified version of this practice. So they might opt to stay dry on weeknights and only drink on weekends. Or they might incorporate one dry day or more per week.
Dry January is a relatively new tradition, which began in 2013 as a public health campaign in England by Alcohol Change UK. That year about 4,000 people participated in not drinking for the month, and the vast majority reported more socially responsible drinking patterns months later. By 2020, over 4 million worldwide participated in this practice, including one in five Americans. Some even will have friends and family sponsor them, so they'll go dry for charity. Some of them even take the challenge one step further and take a 3-month sober spring, or even choose to abstain from alcohol for a year or forever.
Even if you drink alcohol for the rest of the year, there can be some great benefits of giving up booze for a month. Some of these include improved sleep since alcohol can interrupt your sleeping patterns. While a glass of wine before bed might help you fall asleep faster, alcohol reduces your REM while sleeping, so you don't have the same quality of sleep.
Weight loss and overall health improvements may be another benefit of giving up alcohol. In 2015, a team of British researchers evaluated some Dry January participants and found several health benefits. These included decreased insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, and reduced liver stiffness. While these findings are beneficial, other studies indicate that if heavy drinkers simply cut back on their alcohol consumption to about one glass a day, they might have the same benefits.
Another side benefit: you'll save money.
Considering the various health benefits, you might even decide after a month or so of not drinking, you might want to be part of the Sober Curious movement. This movement is full of people who have eschewed alcohol for one reason or another. They might start drinking again at some point but are staying sober for an extended period of time.
Experts say it takes about two months to form a habit, and for those wanting to cut down on extra calories, lose weight, and reduce their risk of liver disease or Type II Diabetes, a month-long period without drinking could be a great way to jump-start the new year. Dry January could be an especially great way to kick off 2021 since many of us increased our alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Even short-term changes can yield long term benefits in terms of health and outlook. The thought of going a month without wine or your favorite drink might seem tough. But when you think about all the health benefits, it can be well worth it!
Are you participating in Dry January this year? Do you have any ideas for delicious non-alcoholic beverages or another favorite booze-free drink? Be sure to share them on your favorite family app or below in the comments!