After Christmas you may hear lots of people say how they want to take part in Dry January to have a detox after a very heavy month of drinking. For some people, Dry January might be a New Year’s resolution others may just want to cut back on drinking altogether. Fad diets aren’t usually sustainable and can have negative implications, however, Dry January is the only fad diet that may actually help you in the long run and it can be fairly easy to maintain if you do it in the right way.
Before you commit to a month of no alcohol it is important to think about why you are doing it. This may be for health reasons, just wanting to limit your alcohol intake or to raise money for a charity. Excessive drinking can lead to several negative health effects including high blood pressure and high cholesterol and it can really affect your sleep. It is important to remember that taking a month off drinking won’t reverse all the damage that has already been caused but it can help to give your body a break and a cleanse.
When taking part in Dry Jan it is also important to consider how much you drank beforehand. If you were someone who only drinks occasionally you probably won’t notice a difference, however, if you are the type of person to have multiple drinks on several nights of the weeks you may notice a bigger difference in your overall well being.
The health benefits:
You may think that drinking makes you more cheerful and bubbly than usual and at first, it might but if you are using alcohol as a coping strategy you may be hiding underlying anxiety. Alcohol can heighten these feelings over time which will not be good for your mental health. Stepping back and analysing if you do use alcohol for self-medication can be a big eye-opener and can help you address the issues you may have and why you feel the need to drink. You will also not have any hangovers so you may be happier in the mornings.
1. You overall health will improve
Excessive drinking can lead to negative health effects such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and can even lead to cancer. Although giving up alcohol won’t affect long term health issues it will be a start in the right direction. Giving up alcohol for a month can help your liver since alcohol puts metabolic stress on it and half of liver diseases stem from alcohol abuse.
2. You will sleep better
When you’ve been out drinking it is usually quite easy to fall asleep but the quality of sleep you are getting will be low. The National Sleep Foundation explains that when you drink then fall asleep the sleep-inducing chemical adenosine rises to help you get to sleep but then it crashes which may wake you up. Even if you don’t wake up in the middle of the night you are more likely to wake up feeling groggy. Alcohol lowers your sleep quality and drinking a large amount of alcohol can decrease your “REM” sleep. Giving up alcohol for a month can help improve your sleep and if you are able to get a better night sleep it means you will wake up with more energy so you can put more time and energy into other aspects of your life.
3. You may notice slight weight loss
People often forget that alcohol has calories in, however, you shouldn’t consider Dry Jan a weight loss tactic since alcohol can affect everyone and not consuming calories is not a healthy or sustainable lifestyle. Depending on how much you were drinking before you might notice a bit of weight loss
since one alcoholic drinks contains around 150 calories. Alcohol also amps up our hunger and need for junk food and on top of this may it can lead you to make bad food choices since your judgement is impaired. Alcohol also dehydrates the body which can cause bloating and not to mention a killer headache in the morning.
4. You’ll have a new relationship with alcohol
One of the benefits of Dry Jan is that you can assess how much you actually drink on a weekly basis. You may actually learn that you don’t necessarily need alcohol in your life but if you do go back to the booze in Feb your tolerance will be lower so you will be able to get a buzz off less alcohol.
Overall Dry Jan can be a great way to cut down your alcohol intake and see how your mood, health and mental health improve over this period. However, it is important to remember that ditching alcohol for a month may not have any long-term mental health benefits and drinking alcohol in excess does have health consequences no matter if you go dry for a month. It is better for your overall health to be a moderate drinker in the long term than going from one extreme to another (binge then abstain). Dry Jan is a great time to assess your relationship with alcohol and what is a realistic amount for you to be drinking. You need to see how alcohol can fit into your life in a balanced way.