As a new year begins, many of us will be considering how we can make improvements to our mental and physical wellbeing in 2024.
For some, cutting down on alcohol will be at the top of the list of New Year’s resolutions. And that’s where Dry January comes in.
Founded in 2013 by Alcohol Change UK, this long-running public health initiative sees people across the UK give up alcohol for the month of January, with the aim of improving their health both short term and long term.
But what are the benefits of reducing your alcohol consumption? And what steps can you take to ensure Dry January is a success for you?
What are the benefits of cutting down on alcohol?
Past participants in Dry January have proven that there are many benefits to giving up alcohol for the month, especially following the Christmas and New Year period when many people overindulge.
Figures published by Alcohol Change UK show that 86% of people reported saving money because of Dry January, while 70% experienced improved sleep, and 66% had more energy than before.
The NHS reiterates the benefits of drinking less, both short term and long term, with long-term benefits including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced risk of alcohol-related illnesses including liver disease, hypertension, and stroke
- Improved mood and memory
- Weight loss and improved weight management – alcoholic drinks are high in calories, so cutting back can help reduce your calorie intake
Please note: the benefits of Dry January can vary significantly, depending on an individual’s level of alcohol dependency.
If you have a severe alcohol addiction, quitting drinking suddenly can have dangerous consequences for your health and can even be fatal.
For this reason, it is recommended that anyone struggling with alcohol dependency speaks to their GP first, as they will be able to provide advice and support for reducing alcohol intake safely.
How to have a healthier relationship with alcohol
Throughout Dry January and beyond, there are several ways you can cut down on your alcohol consumption and develop healthier drinking habits, including:
Monitoring your alcohol consumption
Writing down what you have been drinking over a period of a few weeks can help you gain insight into your drinking habits and make real changes. The free Try Dry app from Alcohol Change UK can be used to track your units and drinking patterns.
Finding alcohol-free ways to have fun
Taking up a hobby can provide you with a new outlet for having fun, that does not involve drinking. Think about something you have always wanted to do but have never made the time for, or throw yourself into an existing hobby to occupy yourself. Learn to have fun without alcohol.
Recognising your behaviour
If you know there are certain situations in which you usually drink more, consider how you might handle the situation differently next time.
Asking for help when you need it
If your alcohol consumption is having a negative impact on your day-to-day life, including your relationships, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Speak to your GP or local alcohol support service for advice and the support you need to make changes.
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