What is Dry January? After a season of indulgence and over-consumption, over the years “Dry January” has become a popular way to reset from the holidays and set the tone with the year ahead.
There are plenty of health benefits to going dry – whether you’re taking a break or cutting it out completely. Dry January can be a wonderful opportunity to get intentional and mindful of how and why we consume alcohol and can be a wonderful starting point for considering any long-term changes one might wish to take.
Here are a few ways to get started on your Dry January journey:
• Identify your “why” – Why are you interested in taking a break from alcohol? Do you just need a month off to cleanse your palate? Are you interested in testing out a dry month to see if it is something you’d like to explore longer term? Are you interested in overall health and well-being and see this as a way to contribute to that? Understanding why you are taking a break will allow you to focus in on the changes and impacts you see in yourself over this month and how you might wish to incorporate these changes into your day to day life beyond January.
• Make a plan – Like with any change to routine, in order to be successful you need to make a plan. If you’re interested in eating better, you have to make a meal plan and shop for the necessary ingredients. To succeed in Dry January, make sure you have a plan on how to handle occasions where you might normally drink. Going out to dinner with a friend? Be ready to ask the bartender for something delicious and festive – I love a champagne glass of soda water with a splash for grapefruit juice and bitters. Usually settle down in from of the TV with a glass of wine (or three) at the end of the day? Indulge in a special herbal tea to wind down instead. Hosting a dinner party? Make a batch mocktail to serve guests, or explore the many options in the alcohol-free wine space!
• Grab a friend – Big changes can be more fun with a friend or partner. Do you have someone in your life who is also considering a dry January. Or a friend who keeps dry who could be your buddy while you navigate a month of no booze? Having a partner to check in with each day is both a way to stay accountable as well a great way to share gret zero-proof recipes and ideas.
• Stock up on your favorite AF beverages – When I first went alcohol-free, one of things that was the hardest was just missing having a glass of something special in hand. Mocktails were (and are!) a big tool in feeling like I still get to enjoy something special without the FOMO. Between seltzers, alcohol-free beers and wines and mixing up alcohol-free drinks, I feel like I enjoy more options now that when I was still drinking! Having delicious and festive options can help for when you’re itching to grab a drink.
• Journal – Going dry for a month can bring about some wonderful changes. You may notice improved sleep and energy levels and decreased feelings of anxiety or depression. You may also be more aware of the times when you’re feeling like you would really want to have a drink – what are your “triggers” and what other ways can you identify to cope with those rather than grabbing a drink? Going for a walk? A dance party in the kitchen? Calling a friend? Journaling your thoughts and experiences during your Dry January can help you reevaluate at the end of the month to see if there are some longer-term changes you might wish to carry into the rest of the year.
Whether you’re dry all year long, or this is your first shot at seeing what life can be like alcohol-free, you’ve got lots of great company along for this ride. Taking a mindful break from alcohol consumption is a wonderful way to assess the overall role of alcohol in your life.