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January 4, 2022
4 min. read

How to Set Yourself Up for a Successful Dry January

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Whether you call it Dry January or Drynuary, you’re likely familiar with the annual, post-holiday season tradition of taking a month off from drinking to give the mind and body a chance to reset and refresh. Whether your Dry January is part of your New Year’s resolution to drink less, or an effort to “detox” after the holidays, a month off from drinking can be a great opportunity to check in on your relationship to alcohol.

But the shift to short-term sobriety isn’t always a smooth one—which is why having a plan in place to navigate your month of sobriety can help minimize any anxiety or awkwardness that might crop up. Take a look below at some of our tips to set yourself up for a successful Dry January.

dry january

Why try Dry January?

If you’re still on the fence about Dry January, you should know that there are a number of health benefits to short-term sobriety, from better sleep to an immune system boost. A 2018 study found that moderate-to-heavy drinkers who abstained from alcohol for one month found improvements in various health markers like blood pressure, liver function tests, insulin resistance, and molecules that play a role in cancer growth.

They also slept better, had more energy, and lost weight. The authors of the study do point out, however, that these are short-term findings—which means these benefits may not last if you go back to drinking heavily the other 11 months of the year.

sober buddy

Find a Sober Buddy

Finding someone close to you to do Dry January with will likely improve your chances of staying sober. Together, you can plan sober activities, vent out your frustrations, and celebrate sober wins. If you can’t find anyone to agree to do Dry January with you, it still could be a good idea to go public with your plan—letting your friends and family know about your inventions for the month can open up communication and encourage them to keep you accountable.

Eliminate Temptation

Whether it’s that bottle of rose in the fridge or your well-stocked bar cart in the kitchen, temptation might be all around your home. If you’ve got alcohol in your house—especially if it’s in plain sight—your sobriety is more likely to slip. If money’s not an issue, you might just want to get rid of it. But if you’ve spent time and money building up that bar cart, you may consider hiding your alcohol, putting it somewhere that’s out of view, or asking a friend to hold on to it for you for a month.

mocktail

Make a Mocktail

A mocktail, or a non-alcoholic drink mixed cocktail-style, is a great sober alternative. social situations or after a long day when you crave a drink. Whether you’re in a social situation that calls for a toast, or just craving a drink after a long day, consider reaching for sparkling water, soda, or any number of virgin (alcohol-free) cocktails.

There are also non-alcoholic beers and wines available, but just make sure you check the label—some brands still contain up to 0.5% alcohol by volume. If you do opt for a non-alcoholic beer or wine, know that sugar is often added to these beverages to improve the taste, so you might want to choose low sugar options if available.

Try Alcohol Alternatives

If you’ve been using alcohol as a way to relax, finding alternative ways to cope with stress will make your Dry January that much easier. One of the best ways to relieve stress is through exercise, whether that’s pilates, running, walking or yoga.

Not only will you have more time than ever before, but you won’t be wasting away your mornings with a hangover, so you may as well use that time to be active. You might also use this time to establish a hobby or two that you’ve always wanted to try out–learn to meditate, cook a new dish, or knit a scarf (maybe for your sober buddy!).

Don’t Give Up

Did you slip up and find yourself sipping a beer two weeks into January? If so, it’s okay. Even if you’ve done Dry January before, each time can bring with it new challenges and hurdles. Try not to feel guilty about drinking, and simply start again the next day.

For many people, Dry January is a month to gain information about their relationship with alcohol. You may find that you found thirty days of sobriety pretty simple; maybe you stay sober for thirty more days, or you simply recognize that alcohol can take a backseat in your life as an occasional indulgence.

dry january methods

If you find yourself struggling after a week or so, or can’t manage to cut back, that’s also information you can use. You might use this new perspective to consider seeking help with your alcohol use, or reach out to family and friends for support.

In both of these scenarios, Dry January will give you a better perspective on how and why you drink. It can provide you with important information about yourself that can help you make some necessary and healthy shifts in your life, and the life of those around you.

Resources: 1. Mehta, G., Macdonald, S., Cronberg, A., Rosselli, M., Khera-Butler, T., Sumpter, C., Al-Khatib, S., Jain, A., Maurice, J., Charalambous, C., Gander, A., Ju, C., Hakan, T., Sherwood, R., Nair, D., Jalan, R., & Moore, K. P. (2018). Short-term abstinence from alcohol and changes in cardiovascular risk factors, liver function tests and cancer-related growth factors: a prospective observational study. BMJ Open, 8(5), e020673. 2. Jackson, Erica M. Ph.D., FACSM STRESS RELIEF, ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal: May/June 2013 - Volume 17 - Issue 3 - p 14-19 doi: 10.1249/FIT.0b013e31828cb1c9

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