More and more people commit to staying “dry” at the start of each year as part of Dry January. There are a number of reasons why someone would cut back on alcohol for an entire month, perhaps as a post-holiday reset, or a way to rethink their alcohol consumption, or start making new lifestyle choices altogether.
Why Do People Participate In Dry January?
Why would people willingly keep their favorite booze at bay, especially during a time when it’s most tempting to drink? Mainly, to reap the many health benefits and lifestyle improvements associated with keeping oneself dry. More broadly, to take it as an opportunity to try the dry life, recalibrating their alcohol use without totally quitting alcohol for good — like a “trial run” for those who want to see if it’s possible to cope without their usual go-to drinks.
What Are The Health Benefits of Dry January?
At times, the effects and benefits are immediate. People experience better sleep, improved mental clarity, and a more positive mood in general, just to name a few — and that’s just after a few weeks (and sometimes only days) of abstinence.
It gives your body a chance to bounce back after the holidays: After a period of indulgence during the holiday season, Dry January can be a great opportunity to slow down and cut back on alcohol, allowing your body to relax, burn off those extra calories, and gradually get the booze out of your system.
You’ll experience boosted health and an improved immune system: It’s no secret that alcohol consumption is associated with a plethora of negative effects on one's health, including increased cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and higher risk for certain illnesses. Cutting back on alcohol helps you avoid increased risk in these areas and be on track towards a healthier lifestyle overall.
Increased mental clarity: You might feel that a brain fog has been lifted and experience better mental health if you lay off the sauce for a while. Alcohol can damage certain areas of the brain, leading to loss of memory and decreased serotonin production. A person who quits drinking can have normalized dopamine levels and chemical responses, which may lead to improved moods, less anxiety, and less risk for depression.
You’ll sleep better: Alcohol negatively impacts sleep health and sleep cycles, so keeping the booze at bay may bring you much better sleep. Furthermore, drinking alcohol can often lead to drowsiness and fatigue.
Your mood will improve: Mood is dependent on a lot of factors such as one’s mental well-being, so while cutting back on alcohol alone isn’t the end-all, be-all of eliminating factors that lead to mood swings and a feeling of being down in the dumps, it can certainly improve it. Drinking less may help you cope better, regulate your emotions more carefully, and prevent you from dwelling on frustrations brought about by drinking.
It can lead to improved heart health: Drinking less reduces the risk for a number of diseases, including liver problems, cancer, and heart disease. While it’s important to have a balanced diet and regular exercise to maintain a healthy heart, cutting back on drinking excessively dramatically decreases the risks of cardiovascular problems tenfold.
It might help you lose weight: Oftentimes alcohol comes with a lot of extra calories, and if you drink too much, it’s not so easy to burn them off faster than you put them on. What’s more, these are empty calories so they don’t really make you feel “full,” which can lead to unnecessary weight gain.
Be more intimate with your partner: Drinking can cause a gradual loss of interest in intimate activities due to low sex drive, decreased performance, and difficulty reaching climax. This can bring about not only awkwardness during intimate moments, but also negative effects on all parties’ esteem. Cutting back on the sauce may help you regain renewed energy levels during those special moments.
Your skin will thank you: Alcohol is often dehydrating and can cause inflammation, so once you stop drinking, you may feel improved skin health, helping reduce dehydration and visible redness. Some people also say they experience less puffiness, redness, and better hydration.
You’ll gain better self-control: When you drink less, you’ll feel as if you have a better handle on things like making better decisions, avoiding urges, and not giving into old impulses easily.
Dry January 2024 Guide: Tips On Staying Motivated
Don’t expect it to always be a smooth-sailing ride, though. Staying committed to Dry January can prove quite challenging, especially for those who drink alcohol regularly either out of habit, peer pressure, or a daily routine that involves decompressing with their favorite drinks.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to keep you on the dry side. They’ll come in handy when you find your motivation dwindling then feel tempted to go back to your old ways of consuming alcohol. If you do stumble a few times here and there — no worries! Brush it off, pick up where you left off, and continue as best as you can. The important thing is to keep trying while being kind to yourself in the process.
1. Know where to find great alternatives to alcohol: There’s no shortage of good non-alcoholic options in the market these days if you’re seeking great alternatives to your favorite sips but want the benefit of remaining booze-free. No & Low offers a wide range to choose from, including wines, aperitifs, spirits, and even beer. Yes, they’re all non-alcoholic!
2. Try new activities that aren’t centered on drinking: It’s difficult to avoid drinking because it’s such a fiercely embedded staple in all sorts of daily activities and events. Chances are there’ll be drinking involved in simple get-togethers, celebrations, and whatnot. Which is why if you’re trying to drink less, you must go out of your way to try new activities not tethered solely to drinking. You could go on a hike, bust out that old to-do list and complete some leftover chores from last year, try new cafés, and so much more!
3. Do your best to identify and avoid triggers: Be aware of how certain situations make you feel. For instance, what about a certain circumstance gives you the urge to drink? To successfully avoid triggers, you must first be able to identify them. Drinking habits are often associated with such triggers, and when you find that the temptation is too strong to ignore, perhaps substituting your drink with low or non-alcoholic options might just do the trick.
4. Plan ahead for when temptations occur: At the end of the day, the most important power you can wield is the power of saying “no.” Sometimes a drink inevitably lands on your lap without warning, and you find yourself unsure if you should give in or not, and when you're around people, having to explain why you’re not drinking is at times more difficult than the act of refusing. Maybe it’ll help if you have a script ready — no need to recite it word for word, of course! But it might just come in handy in this situation.
5. Find different ways to cope in social functions: So, what do you do when you’re offered a drink? And what if they insist after you flat-out refuse? Always remember that at the end of the day, it’s your choice that matters. If you’re around the right kind of people, those mature enough to understand and respect boundaries, they’ll leave you be. Remember that it’s much easier these days to cope socially without having a single drop of alcohol. There are tons of non-alcoholic options available to keep your cup full but your head steady.
6. Heading out? Have your gameplan ready: The urge to drink may come even when you’re alone, out and about, not socializing whatsoever. During these times, water is your best friend. If you prefer something a notch fancier than that, go for sparkling water. If that’s still not enough, there are fantastic ready-to-drink non-alcoholic options you can take with you anywhere you go.
7. Find trusty companions and build a strong support network: Moral support goes a long way! Let your family and people you love know about you participating in Dry January and chances are they’ll give their utmost support. They might even join you!
8. Slip up? Dust it off and try again — kindness is key: Everyone stumbles and makes mistakes once in a while. If you slip up, that doesn’t mean you should give up. It’s fine, just brush it off, live and learn, and pick up where you left off. Being too hard on yourself when you get derailed will just derail you even further. Manage the hiccup then try to get back on track.
9. Explore the wonderful world of mocktails: You know what’s better than non-alcoholic drinks? Well, mixing them together to make mocktails, of course! We have a handful of non-alcoholic cocktail recipes at the ready, such as our booze-free take on the Margarita, Mojito, Mimosa, Sangria, and more!
10. Remind yourself the health benefits of staying dry: When the willpower runs dry or your source of motivation withers, maybe it’s a good time to remind yourself that drinking less does wonders for your health, all of which are listed above!
11. Find time to reflect and write about it: Dry January can feel overwhelming, so set aside time to reflect on your experience. Jot thoughts and emotions down in your journal as you go along, taking note of the best and worst parts of staying dry. Journaling can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and learning things about yourself that wouldn’t have occurred to you otherwise.
12. Always ask yourself “Why?”: Ask yourself why you’re choosing to stay committed to participating in Dry January. For some, it’s the health benefits. For others, it’s recognizing their alcohol consumption has become a crutch and wanting a healthier relationship with drinking moving forward.
13. Reward yourself for going through such a challenging undertaking: Look, it ain’t always easy. Staying off the sauce takes a great amount of discipline, and such commitment should be rewarded. Get that scarf you’ve been eyeing online for months. Maybe go see a movie? Treat yourself to something nice? Whatever it is, a special reward you give yourself may prompt you to continue making similar lifestyle changes moving forward.
14. Avoid an “all or nothing” approach: As we’ve previously mentioned, a little stumble doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel. People tend to be perfectionists, but you should avoid having an “all or nothing” mentality. Instead, consider this a gradual, slow process through which you learn more about your drinking habits and by extension yourself as you go through the various hurdles and victories. Don’t think of Dry January as a contest you need to “win” but rather a “process” where you listen more keenly to what your mind and body tells you.
15. Maybe “Dry-Ish” January is a better fit for you: “Dry-Ish” January means drinking less even if you don’t quit alcohol completely. That’s totally fine, too! Any step you take towards rethinking your relationship with alcohol is a step in the right direction.
16. Consider what you want to do after Dry January: Say you’ve successfully completed the Dry January challenge. Great! Now what? You could go back to drinking, sure. Or maybe the newfound health benefits will encourage you to keep going!
Dry January 2024 Guides & Other Resources
We're doing an entire series especially for Dry January 2024 — No & Low is your central resource for all things non-alcoholic. We got book recommendations, a list of people to follow, and a few nifty apps that'll make the Dry January challenge a lot easier to complete!
Apart from those, keep an eye out for storewide deals during the month and beyond! We want to make it easier for people to try the best non-alcoholic drinks in the market, so feel free to peruse our online shop and get your stash must-have essentials. Cheers!