The Dos and Don’ts of Dry January and Beyond

Did you overindulge during the Christmas period? Or perhaps you want to make a longer-term change to your relationship with alcohol by abstaining for more than just a month? Whatever your goals or motivations, we’re here with a few dos and don’ts to help you stay the course and give your liver, waistline and wallet a rest.

Do start strong

Giving up alcohol even for just a month can be surprisingly difficult, particularly when it’s heavily entwined with your social life. That’s why you must be motivated from the off. Understanding why it’s important for you to take a break from alcohol and even writing it down will help to keep you motivated throughout the month.

If you find yourself with the urge to have a drink, perhaps after a stressful day at work, then think about why you’re craving alcohol and consider the other things you can do instead that’ll have a similar result. For example, going for a run to relieve stress.

Do see it as a stepping stone

If you’re starting to feel fitter, look better and are enjoying being more present in your life, then you don’t have to stop at Dry January. Reducing your alcohol intake could be just the start of a healthier you in 2022. Add to this important first step by cooking healthier meals, spending the money you save on alcohol on an outdoor hobby or making the most of the time you’re not spending in the pub to play more sport.

If you’re missing the high alcohol can bring, then exercising more, whether it’s alone or playing team sports, stimulates the release of endorphins which can combat the stress and boredom you might feel without alcohol. It can also bring you a sense of wellbeing and booze-free relaxation.

Do think about the health benefits

If you’ve made it through the month, take some time to really think about how you’re feeling on a day to day basis. Your overall mood should have improved, particularly if you’re combining a lack of alcohol with exercise. Your complexion should be clearer and brighter and you may have even shed a few pounds.

There are also plenty of benefits that you can’t see, including lower cholesterol, improved blood sugar regulation and reduced liver fat. All of which will improve further if you reduce your alcohol intake over the longer term.

Don’t make excuses

As well as pointers to help you through Dry January, there are also some pitfalls that you should avoid. One of those is finding excuses not to start at all. One of the most common excuses is letting the New Year’s celebrations extend into the first few days of January and then calling the whole thing off. Instead, just extend the challenge a day or two into February. That way, you’ll still get the sense of achievement that comes from completing the full month.

Don’t overdo it

You’re not going to completely transform your body and mind in a month, so don’t try to overdo it. Instead, see this as an important starting point. Be kind to yourself, reward yourself for your efforts and don’t overdo it at the gym.

Don’t fall straight back into your old habits in February

Going out and having too many drinks is not the best way to celebrate the end of Dry January. Pour yourself a celebratory drink, certainly, but also take the lessons from Dry January with you. It feels great to wake up without a hangover on a Saturday morning and be able to make the most of your day, and it’s refreshing to feel happy and relaxed without having to rely on the drink.

Do you have any tips of your own to help our readers through Dry January? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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