Among the many health and fitness resolutions in the New Year, abstaining from alcohol is near the top of the list, especially for all January. “Dry January” has become an increasingly popular trend, as many people get a little boozy during the holidays. It gives people the opportunity to get into routines and patterns that don’t revolve around alcohol. And according to a recent survey, abstaining from alcohol for just 35 days helped decrease blood sugar and liver fat in participants.
Why Should You Try Dry January?
If you recognize that you imbibe more than usual and want to cut down on your alcohol intake, or simply begin the year with a clean slate, join the Dry January challenge. Dry January began in 2012 as a public health initiative from Alcohol Change UK, a British charity. Now, millions of people participate in this challenge every year. Even though drinking a moderate amount of alcohol may not do incredible harm to the body, long-term consumption can increase the risk of physical and mental problems. In older adults, especially, drinking can increase the risk of cognitive decline, or make symptoms of cognitive conditions worse.
Removing alcohol from your diet for one month can have a powerful impact on your health. One study found that regular drinkers who abstained from alcohol for 30 days slept better, lost weight, and had more energy. The participants also experience lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Plus, they were also to reduce the amount of cancer-related proteins in their blood. So if you want to start swapping your merlot for matcha this January, the following tips can help you make it through the month.
Ask For Support
When you make your goals public to friends and family, you simultaneously open the doorway for more support and communication. People are social creatures, and social interaction is potentially one of the most powerful resources you have at your disposal. You don’t have to go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings; rather, you can find support in different ways. Use the people in your circle of trust and allow them to support you on your journey during Dry January.
Amp Up Your Self-Care
If you settle your mind with a cocktail or sip a cold beer to relax, this tip is extra important. Stress and anxiety can do serious harm to your body, so you don’t want to leave them unchecked. You can combat stress and anxiety by practicing daily rituals that support health, healing, and relaxation. Many health experts advocate journaling, massage therapy, baths, infrared sauna sessions, meditation, and acupuncture for stress and anxiety relief. When you strengthen your mind-body connection via these self-care practices, you will find that you don’t need to rely on alcohol.
Plan For Urges
Always expect the unexpected and prepare yourself for roadblocks. You may have a plan in place for Dry January, but sticking to it may prove more challenging than you think. If you plan for the inevitable urge to drink at some point, you can employ strategies that help you overcome that urge. You need to outride the wave that is your urge to drink. If you don’t steer yourself in the right direction, you may succumb to the temptation. Consider a quick change of scenery if you feel the urge to drink, for example, go outside if you are indoors. If you are with friends, take time alone. Small changes in the environment can distract you and take your mind off drinking long enough to ride out the urge.
Reflect On Your Habits
It is a lot easier to rethink your relationship with alcohol when you distance yourself from it. Take the time to look at why you drink to determine whether it is serving you or doing you a disservice. If you regularly drink to the point of being drunk, you probably want to drown out something that is uncomfortable to deal with. Maybe you feel boxed in, or your work is pushing you past your limits and you feel overwhelmed. You turn to alcohol and sugary foods to feel more open and less constricted. If you realize that you use alcohol as a crutch to escape pain, for example, you can start on the path of self-discovery to face your demons and find healing.