Dry January Family with umbrella

Dry January can be a fun and positive break in the cycle of drinking too much. If you are looking to reset your relationship with alcohol or experiment with quitting drinking a month off alcohol can make a world of difference to your health and happiness.

The great screeching halt of the pandemic has shown us. Often, we are too busy living our lives to take stock and think about what is important.
One consistent milestone brings self and life improvement across the world: the new year.

Why do people choose to stop drinking for the new year?

Our relationship with alcohol can be complicated. While on the face of it, drinking is seen as a social lubricant and enjoyment, it can also suck the life out of us.
For some, this is obvious, with our bodies, mind and relationships devastated. However, for others, it is more passive.

We don’t realise we are tired because alcohol is disrupting our sleep. Maybe we get ratty with our loved ones and miss days out, all in an endless cycle of drinking just a bit too much.
The risks of drinking too much were the subject of a recent study by the Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research. They found that the majority of damage done by alcohol is to people who are on the high end of moderate.

Experts also found that doing a dry month improved people’s relationship with alcohol for 6 to 12 months after they did it.
When it comes to life without alcohol, seeing is believing.

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No alcohol for 30 days

Abstaining from alcohol for a month can be a challenge to yourself, an opportunity to do anything from making new friends to spending time normally taken up by drinking and after effects. 

A month gives you time to recover fully in body and mind. Here is the process your body goes through when you stop drinking.

Day 1-3 on the first day, a hangover will be present if you drink too much with a headache, anxiety and disturbed sleep. You will feel drained from the stress on your body and heart until this fades. Days two to three can be the hardest.

Days 4-7, once the initial phase is over, you may experience issues that are more to do with habits than physical symptoms. If you drink to get to sleep or relax after a long day, you might feel these are disrupted most in this period. 

Week 2-3, this is the uptick. When you start feeling the benefits of stopping drinking, your sleep should normalize, and you will feel more energetic. This is the period where the habit begins to break. We lose the focus of the beginning and work on breaking the habit of drinking too much.

Week 3-4, most people find their general health and even appearance are improved by the end of their dry month. Hopefully, you will keep your alcohol consumption in check in future. This last week is the chance to solidify your new relationship with alcohol, whether continued abstinence or moderation. If you reach this point and feel cravings, you might need more than a short break.

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Signs you need a break from alcohol.

All the drinking during the festive period can tip us over the edge. We know that we want to stop drinking so much. This is why dry January is so popular. 

Cutting back on alcohol is appealing, but too often doesn’t end up happening. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and self-control.

Here are signs you need to stop drinking

  • Craving or thinking obsessively about alcohol
  • Tiredness, low mood or anxiety
  • Memory Loss – blacking out or forgetting large parts of time spent drinking
  • Relationship problems stemming from alcohol or alcohol-related behaviour
  • Drinking every day
  • Your tolerance to alcohol keeps increasing
  • Your sleep is constantly poor and disrupted
  • You usually end up drinking more than you intended
  • Giving up things or friends you enjoy because of alcohol or drinking     

Taking back control

How alcohol affects our body can make it tough to understand why we feel down. Initially, drinking boosts our mood. This is why it is so popular and has such a hold on us.

Too much alcohol offers temporary enjoyment, but in the long term, it removes other sources of happiness one by one. We feel bad when we drink too much, lowering our self-esteem and motivation.
We no longer feel like doing other things that make us happy and bring us joy. The downward cycle of drinking too much needs to be broken.

Changing your relationship with alcohol in 2023

Dry January, like all New Year resolutions, gets a bad rep. Resolutions are something people all too often give up because the truth is this year is very like the last.

We have to view a dry month as a chance to reset our relationship with alcohol. Realising how much less alcohol you can live with happily.

There are a lot of ideas out there about drinking less or stopping drinking. It often focuses on the dark side of drinking, but there is a bright side to quitting or cutting down on alcohol. A quick reboot could make all the difference to your year and your general trajectory.

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