A glass of wine, scotch, or a cold beer is sometimes very relaxing after work with friends or before bed to help you sleep better. Sometimes we get into the habit of drinking a glass nightly or several drinks on the weekend. This is not a problem itself, but it can pack on the pounds and make it more challenging to fall asleep unassisted. A new trend has popped up over the last few years—Dry January.
What Is Dry January?
Dry January is a challenge where people try not to have any alcohol for the entire month of January, simply put. In recent months, people are reporting higher than ever alcohol use. Some are even beginning to struggle with alcoholism. Alcoholism is nothing to mess with, and if you suspect that you have a problem, you should seek help immediately through therapy, a treatment center, or a medical professional. If you are still an occasional drinker but suspect your COVID fifteen is three pounds of alcohol, it may be time to consider what you can do rather than drink.
Benefits to Dry January
While occasional alcohol may have some health benefits, there is no real reason to drink. There are many reasons to put down the glass, at least a little. Drinking an occasional mixed drink, beer, or shot is not a big deal, but it can hinder health and growth.
Your body doesn’t particularly love alcohol. While an occasional glass of red wine has some antioxidants, you could eat the grapes for the same benefits. Alcohol burns first. If you have a beer with chili cheese fries after work with your coworkers, you may be building great rapport, but that alcohol in the beer gets burned first. Then you start burning the additional calories and sorting the nutrients in the chili cheese fries. Your body needs to sort the junk food while it handles the burning of the alcohol, so it gets stored as fat.
Gives You Alternatives
Dry January allows you to decide how else to spend your time. You might develop a new hobby or reconnect with old friends. Exercise and sports are also a great way to socialize rather than at the local bar. If you just like the atmosphere at the bar, you might try a trivia night or something else in the same place.
Though an occasional drink may fit into a healthy diet, it can still negatively impact you without you knowing. Dry January might help you feel better overall, but it may also lower your susceptibility to illness and fatigue.
How Do I Get Through It?
Getting through Dry January need not be a problem. You just need alternative things to do or drink during the month.
Mocktails or Smoothies
Many cocktails are made from healthy ingredients once the alcohol is removed. Is your favorite drink a Tequila Sunrise? Drink orange juice and grenadine. They are fruit juices, essentially. Other frozen drinks would make great smoothies. Add in some kale or spinach to make them even healthier. Forget the alcohol and have fun coming up with great-tasting new smoothies.
Exercise is an excellent activity for weight management, but it can also be a great social activity. Going to the gym may not always be possible, but walking in the park, group classes at the local rec center or just a walk in the neighborhood can be great ways to connect with friends. Be sure to practice safe distances and use proper PPE when exercising with people outside your home.
Set Goals of Your Own
Do you want to write a novel, take up painting, or build a toy box for your kids? Take the time you would spend each day with a drink and dive into those things. Even if it is only ten to fifteen minutes three days a week, you would be surprised how quickly you begin to get things done.
Get a Buddy
Even if you are social distancing and not going out, you can still get a buddy to help you with accountability or the boredom that may come. Talk to your friend nightly, weekly, or as needed. This does not have to be like an AA sponsor. You can simply be two friends trying something new. It’s often helpful to do things with someone else.
So, you plan to spend January completely sober, but on the 21st, you go out with your friend to celebrate his birthday. Without thinking, you order your favorite beer. Just as you start to order beer #2, it hits you that you just messed up Dry January. Nah, let it go. Don’t order beer two and move on. Life will not stop because you drank one beer. If you are an alcoholic seeking to stop because of addiction, this advice is still valid, but you do need to be honest with yourself as to your motives and then move on.
In addition to the benefits above, Dry January can also save you money! This might be a good time to start putting that beer money into a savings account. You do not have to do anything life-changing during Dry January unless an alcohol problem has become apparent. Feel free to connect with friends, family, or therapists to help you during this time. Do not feel that just because you really want a drink sometimes that makes you an alcoholic. Some people rarely drink, but a beer, glass of wine, or cocktail are refreshing once in a while. See what benefits you notice during Dry January. See if you can make it a Dry February as well. You do not have to make this a full-year endeavor, though. Try to think of alternatives to drinking especially if it is becoming more of a crutch during the pandemic. Non-Alcoholic cheers to a successful Dry January!