TUESDAY, Jan. 2, 2024 — Many folks’ New Year resolutions include having a Dry January, and that’s a wise move, experts say.
Taking even a one-month break from booze can lead to significant improvements in physical and mental health, said Jennifer Steiner, an associate professor at Florida State University.
Your cancer risk and blood pressure might decline, your liver could start to heal in just two weeks, and you might also lose some extra pounds, Steiner said. You also might feel less stressed and have better digestion, leading to better sleep.
Giving up alcohol might seem like a tough challenge, given that many social events revolve around drinking, Steiner said in a university news release.
But there can be lasting benefits for toughing it out. Folks who give up alcohol for a month often wind up drinking less even after the challenge ends, Steiner noted.
Steiner pointed out some tried-and-true strategies that can help you achieve a Dry January.
Understand what motivates your drinking. Those who drink to relieve stress might explore other ways to manage their tension, like exercising, chatting with a friend, journaling, meditating or trying a new hobby. On the other hand, those who drink out of habit might try finding a healthier alternative to booze in their daily or weekly routine, Steiner said. When tempted to drink, a person might have a snack, partake in an enjoyable distraction or get out of the house on a walk or drive.
Partner up for the challenge. A Dry January is easier to achieve if you’re working with someone who can provide encouragement and support, Steiner said.
Set yourself up for success. Don’t have any alcohol in your house that’s easy to grab, make plans for friends at alcohol-free locales, and avoid places like bars that are centered around drinking.
Select a personal reward. Establish how you’ll reward yourself if you complete a Dry January, and remind yourself of that reward whenever you’re tempted to drink.
Steiner also recommends that people use Dry January to establish healthier long-term habits around drinking.
For example, people should internalize the fact that alcohol is toxic to the body, and treat it as a delicacy for special occasions, Steiner said.
Folks also can reflect on the healthy benefits they experienced during their month away from booze, such as improved sleep, increased energy and clearer thinking.
Harvard Medical School has more tips for Dry January success.
SOURCE: Florida State University, news release, Dec. 30, 2023
What This Means for You:
Taking a Dry January away from booze can improve your health throughout 2024, experts say.
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