An estimated 6.5 million adults took part in Dry January in 2021. If you’ve missed out on making it one of your new year’s resolutions, you can still celebrate a similar occasion any time of year.
While some adults need to avoid alcohol completely, others may prefer a more gradual approach. For them, a British charity group helped start a movement in 2014 to quit drinking for a month after the winter holidays.
Many participants say that it has helped them to transform their relationship with alcohol.
Look at what a month without margaritas can do for you.
Benefits of Giving Up Alcohol for a Month
Clinical research on Dry January is very limited, but the initial results are promising. Even short-term abstinence can have positive effects on your overall health and wellbeing.
Consider these benefits:
- Sleep well. You’ll probably wake up feeling more refreshed. Alcohol interferes with the quality of your sleep, so this is one of the most common and quickest results.
- Feel healthier. There can be significant health benefits. One study found that a month off alcohol decreased blood pressure by 5% and lowered diabetes risk by 30%. There were also large decreases in blood growth factors linked to certain cancers.
- Lose weight. It’s easy to lose track of how many calories you drink. You may wind up slimmer without even trying to eat less.
- Drink more responsibly. The big question is whether a month without alcohol will lead to lasting changes. According to one survey, Dry January participants drank less frequently and drank less per day for months afterwards.
Tips for Quitting or Cutting Back on Drinking
As you might expect, Dry January fans use many of the same methods that can help anyone to curb their alcohol consumption.
Try these proven strategies:
- Pick a date. Having specific goals and a timeline will help you to feel more committed and accountable. Maybe you’ll want to join the crowd in January, or maybe another month is more feasible for you.
- Cope with triggers. Be prepared for situations that tend to make you want to drink. Suggest going to a movie instead of visiting a bar on date nights. Relax after work with a walk in the park rather than sitting down with a glass of wine.
- Seek support. Ask others for the help you need. Let your family and friends know what you’re doing and what they can do to make it easier.
- Manage peer pressure. Rehearse how you’ll respond in situations where others may encourage you to drink. If someone refuses to respect your choices, you may want to limit your interactions with them at least temporarily.
- Prepare for relapses. What if you give in to temptation at a wedding or a barbecue? Learn from the experience and give yourself credit for getting back on track the next day.
- Stay busy. You’re less likely to miss alcohol if you keep your mind and body occupied with other activities. Spend more time at the gym or working on hobbies. Take a course at your local community college or volunteer at a food bank.
- Practice self-care. Maybe you’ll feel inspired to try other healthy lifestyle changes. Eat more vegetables and start a daily self-care practice.
- See your doctor. Quitting alcohol for a month is safe for most adults. However, if you’re dependent on alcohol, you’ll need medical care to help. Your doctor can help you understand your options and provide you with resources.
Giving up drinking for a month could be the start of a healthier relationship with alcohol. Let it encourage you to drink in moderation or seek professional help if alcohol is disrupting your relationships and the quality of your life.