Dry January is an initiative that was started in 2012 by Alcohol Exchange UK. Since its humble beginnings, it’s become a global movement that has helped people ditch alcohol and enjoy the benefits for the month of January each year. In 2022, 130,000 people participated in Dry January, and it’s a number that’s likely to grow with the rise of the sober curious movement.
For many, the benefits of Dry January are enough to convince them to give up alcohol for the rest of the year too. While drinking has been an integral part of society for centuries, that doesn’t mean you need to give in to stereotypes or social norms. There are plenty of reasons to “go dry” and remain sober throughout the year.
It might be challenging at times, especially if you deal with a lot of social pressure from family and friends. However, there are plenty of things you can do to take part in the sober curious movement and continue your Dry January journey through the rest of the year.
The best way to stick to a goal is to have a deep understanding of why you’re doing it. People take part in Dry January for a variety of reasons. Some want to start the new year off with better health. Others want to take up a challenge and see if they can truly give up alcohol for a month. Some people even do it to save a little money.
However, one of the best reasons for sticking with a sober lifestyle is to improve your long-term health. Most people understand that alcohol isn’t exactly “healthy,” but you might not know the potentially dangerous effects it could have on your body, including:
- Digestive issues;
- High blood pressure;
- Heart conditions;
- Weakened immune system.
Alcohol can even impact your reproductive system, causing issues with fertility. Unfortunately, the physical consequences are only the beginning. While some people use alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with depression or anxiety, it can actually make these conditions worse. That’s especially true if you’re using it as an “escape”. The more you drink to deal with your issues, the more likely you are to become addicted.
One of the reasons why Dry January is so successful is that it only lasts for a month. It’s also a global movement, so there’s plenty of marketing surrounding the campaign, and groups of people both online and in person that will cheer you on and help you get through it.
However, once the month is over, it can seem like that support goes away. It can be harder to stay sober when you’re thinking about not drinking for the entire year.
Instead, focus on setting smaller, realistic goals. Maybe you shouldn’t completely cut out drinking right away. Instead, set limits on how much you’ll drink, and lower that limit each month. You might quickly find that you don’t need to drink as much as you once did to be satisfied. Eventually, it’ll be easier to cut out alcohol completely.
By setting small goals, you won’t feel so overwhelmed by the idea of giving everything up right away. As you reach those goals, your motivation and confidence will increase, and you’ll be more excited to keep going as you work toward larger, yearly goals.
Although ‘Dry January’ is no small feat to some people, it can be a great way to encourage you to create more healthy habits in other areas of your life. To some, this is the same song and dance as every new year — people tend to make resolutions and set goals for themselves, and many of these center around health and wellness. Unfortunately, many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions very quickly because they create lofty goals that are hard to fit into a routine.
You don’t need to make a resolution to practice healthier habits. Instead, focus on small things you can change throughout your day to prioritize your well-being and stay healthy as you age. Your healthy habits should be unique to you and fit your lifestyle and personal needs, but some of the best ways to get started include:
- Practicing good hygiene;
- Prioritizing sleep;
- Staying physically active;
- Eating a nutritious diet.
You can go beyond these basic habits by practicing mindfulness, taking up a new hobby, and prioritizing healthy social relationships. Your relationships can actually impact your alcohol consumption (or lack thereof) more than you might think. Surrounding yourself with the right people is essential for your self-esteem and your overall well-being. If you’re trying to stay “dry” throughout the year, make sure you stay involved in social groups that will support that choice and make it easier for you, not more difficult.
Dry January is a great concept and a wonderful way to start the year on the right foot. But, it doesn’t need to stop there. Consider giving up alcohol through the rest of the year, whether it’s a challenge to yourself or a way to improve your health. You might be surprised by the experience, and realize you don’t need alcohol in your life to be happy or satisfied.