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Dry January – How to Avoid Alcohol & Still Have a Great Time?

a profile image of TSA author Andjela

Written By Anđela Rajković

Certified Sleep Consultant

Featured image for Dry January

1 April 2024 8 min read

Hey there fella? Are you having difficulties avoiding alcohol? You are not the only one! Let's use this Dry January Day to tell you how to avoid alcohol and still have a good time with your loved ones during this holiday season.

January is full of temptations when it comes to food and alcohol abuse. This is the holiday season, so Dry January is an opportunity to refrain from overindulging. Abstinence from alcohol brings you many health benefits – physical and mental. For example, excessive alcohol consumption harms the psyche and increases feelings of anxiety and depression. Because of this, people can be too irritable and get into conflicts more easily.

The thing is, you don't have to drink alcohol to still have a good time. Let your focus be on organizing high-quality events and free time rather than choosing drinks and bars for that purpose. Vacations can include skiing with friends, going to the tropics or various challenges like 30 days of yoga or meditation.

What is Dry January?

An image of a man saying no to alcohol.

So Dry January is the mission behind the organization Alcohol Change UK. Its goal is to raise awareness of bad habits such as binge drinking and encourage positive changes. That is why it is a specific month that is respected a lot. Thanks to its numerous benefits, it can improve your life. It is also an opportunity to motivate loved ones about the importance of moderate drinking.

 

Many people who have gathered online support are happy to participate in the challenge. It takes place during the holidays and was first started in August. The main goal is for people to have a good time without consuming drinks. At the end of the month, they should see the importance of the mission, and for many, this can trigger a significant change in life.

Why do people drink alcohol during January?

An image of people drinking alcohol

New Year and Christmas are a time of celebration. The holidays bring a pleasant atmosphere but also a lot of pressure on individuals and potentially unpleasant situations with family or friends. Due to habit, environment or other reasons, people generally drink more during this period than usual.

As the holidays affect us in various ways, we may sleep less or not eat well enough, which can put more strain on the sympathetic nervous system. In this state, alcohol instantly dulls the senses and relaxes the body. For example, if you go to a New Year's Eve party, you'll probably have a better time after drinking. But, then, in the morning, you'll be looking for some hangover remedies after New Year's Eve.

People want to have a drink as soon as they go on vacation, relax or chat at dinner. Another reason is that alcohol has long been a part of British culture. Young people are interested in developing relationships with their peers, and if they choose not to drink, they may not be part of a particular society. If you want to help others prioritize their needs, never ask them twice if they're going to drink.

Tips for Dry January

If you find a way to persevere in your mission, you will have much more self-confidence, be more active and experience many other benefits. However, think carefully about each step you take toward your goal because they are the key to success.

Drink a non-alcoholic drink instead of alcohol

Many soft drinks are just as tasty as alcoholic drinks. Try a non-alcoholic beer or some juice. After that, you won't have any consequences, i.e. you won't have a hangover, and you can just as well have a good time. You will also remember everything, and you will be able to have quality conversations with other people. It's an opportunity to meet a boyfriend or girlfriend because you won't be too busy drinking. This way, you won't be embarrassed to be the only one consuming a non-alcoholic drink at the party because no one can know if your beer contains alcohol.

Resist the temptations

Alcohol is not the main attribute of entertainment. For example, you came to the party nervous and sad. All you need is a few shots of alcohol to lift your spirits. Instead, talk to someone before you go to the party. Think about what's bothering you and relieve the pressure because that way, you'll be able to control your feelings more easily and be more aware. When you play your favorite music or dance, it increases your sense of happiness. That's why you dance because music releases dopamine, which is secreted even when we're drunk.

Enjoy food

Various cultural and personal traditions influence holidays, which are common regardless of culture, country, family, or food – as a connecting factor. The scene of the festive table and dear faces carries with it much more than drinking alcohol. That's why one of the solutions is delicious food. If you usually watch your diet, allow yourself a little more during January. For example, eat your favorite sweets because they also cause feelings of happiness and contentment.

This way, you will only replace the worse substance with another with the same predispositions. Of course, some foods go perfectly with alcohol. These are meat, pasta, and seafood. You might be tempted because it will complement this meal perfectly. Avoid these foods or resist the urge to drink, which can greatly test your character.

Ask for support from family & friends

It would be best if you also got out of the vicious circle because consuming this drink can be a habit in society. Bring your plus one who also doesn't drink. In this way, you will receive support and encourage responsibility in yourself. If you explain to your relatives and friends that you can have a great time without alcohol, indeed someone will support this idea.

After all, not everyone believes that joy and satisfaction are only in such products. They say it's easy to be a friend in good times, but true friends are known for being there for you when times are tough. And it is in such situations that you realise how important and beautiful it is to have someone with you who will hug you, comfort you, provide support and hold your hand tightly.

Do not give up no matter what

Even though alcohol is deeply embedded in our social life, the culture is changing. Don't be afraid to be part of this movement and take the initiative. It is an opportunity to stand up for yourself, to redirect your life in the right direction, and not in the direction of other people's beliefs. The key to success is patience. Over time, you will become more confident in yourself, and the results will not fail. After just a few days, you will see numerous advantages, especially if you hang out with people who act differently. Even if you make a mistake, consider it an exception. Improvise, to begin with, try different alternatives and focus on the healthy aspects of fun.

If you can't resist….have an occasional drink

You don't have to stop drinking completely if you feel that would cause too much stress. The most important thing is not to overdo it and not do anything by force because the holidays should be when we feel beautiful and take care of ourselves. So feel free to drink your favourite drink, but stick to one instead of drinking five or more drinks. An occasional drink allows you to relax your nervous system, be accepted in society, enjoy a delicious drink, and practice establishing control. This way, you send your body an important message – everything is fine. Of course, if you have already tried to do this many times and failed, it is best to look for an alternative.

Benefits of Dry January

An image of a man shoing an 'ok' sign with his hands.

Alcohol is insidious and affects all vital organs – liver, kidney, skin, heart, and brain. If you take a break from it for just a few weeks, you will feel great relief and a surge of positive energy. Once you kick this bad habit, here's what you can expect, short-term and long-term.

Saving money

Since the creation of the mission, surveys of Dry January participants have been conducted. The results confirm many benefits, one of the most obvious being saving money. Saving is essential not only for existential reasons but also for psychological reasons. Such behavior implies rational action, and each such step helps you better plan and predict the future. Over time, you gain more control over your life, and that's always a good decision. Because of this, you will remain strong in the challenge. People who have fallen into a state of alcoholism benefit the most.

Better overall health status

A man who drinks occasionally has more energy and a healthier relationship with alcohol. Your skin will also thank you for this decision. After just a few days of alcohol withdrawal, it will become more hydrated, and you will look fresher. The reason is straightforward – alcohol is a diuretic, it forces you to expel much more fluid from your body. This also leads to the excretion of potassium, zinc, and magnesium. The lack of one or more B vitamins from this group dramatically increases the body's stress.

In addition, alcohol intake reduces the body's production of antidiuretic hormones, which leads to skin drying. Redness in the cheeks and around the nose will be a thing of the past, but so will many other health problems. It is important to mention the moment of a better mood, but also the risk of cancer is lower. You will function better in all areas of life, at work, and in relationships. High blood pressure is another alcohol use disorder that can be treated just with a change of drinking habits.

Good night’s sleep

A recent study showed that consuming alcohol before bed increases alpha wave activity in the brain. This all leads to interrupted and restless sleep. Maybe the opposite has happened to you before – you fall asleep faster and fall into a deeper sleep. However, that's just the beginning. Consuming it more often and for a longer time seriously impairs sleep quality because it begins to burn in the blood. Because of this, you stay awake and tense for a long time. We're sure you'll remain abstinent when you see what it's like to wake up rested and sleepy. Better sleep brings you a good mood, concentration, and cognitive abilities.

Weight loss (or not gaining additional weight)

One of the most significant benefits of abstaining from alcohol is to lose weight. This habit will help you eat less, as it whets your appetite. The ingredients in the drink heighten the senses and make us consume far more food than we need. This applies not only to the quantity but also to a specific type of food.

A small amount of alcohol increases brain activity in the hypothalamus while it will be even worse if you have four or more drinks. After that, you become more sensitive to the smell of food. If you cut out all those calories and wait for the urges from the previous point to pass, you'll lose a significant amount of weight with little effort.

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About the author

Anđela Rajković
As a CPD certified Sleep Consultant and well-practiced sleep enthusiast, I find a lot of joy in bringing my expertise to our readers – preferably those who love to sleep. With a background in the English language and literature and a love of research, I'm always seeking new ways to share the latest sleep science and bed-related findings. And, when I'm not connecting with my readers, you can find me exploring the great outdoors, or, well, curling up in bed.
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