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 2023!
How Does Dry January Work?
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.
Where Did Dry January Originate?
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.
According to a survey by the Morning Consult, one in five Americans participated in Dry January in 2022, though some didn’t completely abstain from alcohol. 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.
What are Some of the Long-Term Benefits of Not Drinking for a While?
Even if you drink alcohol for the rest of the year, there can be some great benefits to 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.
How Does Dry January Relate to the Sober Curious Movement?
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.
Ruby Warrington outlines a lot of these principles in her book Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol, as she urges her readers to consider life without the mindless consumption of alcohol. How would we feel if we stopped drinking altogether, or even for a little while? Or if we really thought about why we were drinking rather than following along with old habits?
What Are the Effects of Dry January?
From a macro level, the effects of millions of people seriously considering the way alcohol affects their lives and abstaining for a while are pretty impressive. Even if the pause on alcohol is only temporary, being more intentional about alcohol consumption gets the year off to a great start.
Other personal Dry January benefits can create significant improvements to participants’ overall health and well-being. It might take a while to notice some potential external benefits of not drinking including weight loss and better-hydrated skin. But even within a few days of no alcohol, your liver will start to function much more efficiently. You might notice fewer sleep interruptions and improved mental clarity or better recovery after workouts.
Dry January Resources
If the thought of trying to give up alcohol seems pretty daunting, there are lots of resources to give you that extra support. There’s even a Dry January app: Try Dry that helps you track your progress and observe your overall drinking patterns.
Studies have shown that you’re much more likely to succeed in a new goal and feel better doing it if you’re working together with friends and family. So even though the app and reading articles on the benefits of sober living are great, enlist the support of friends and family so you’re not doing it alone. If you don’t have in-person friends for Dry January support, look online for virtual support groups where you can find people who will help you achieve your goals.
Dry January: Are You In?
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 2023 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 2023? Let us know on social #getfamilyapp! And here are some of our favorite winter mocktails to help get your year off to a great start!