There’s no denying that the prospect of giving up alcohol when you’re nursing a festive hangover sounds appealing. But, inevitably, that hangover passes. What happens when normality returns and the temptation of a glass of wine with dinner or a night down the pub with friends creeps in again?
It doesn’t mean you’re an alcoholic just because you’re finding it hard to quit your weekly beer or wine. For many, Dry January is a way for people to prove to themselves that they don’t need alcohol by giving it up for a month. You’re not alone in wanting to do that, either. Last year, 4.2 million people in the UK planned to do Dry January.
If your efforts to abstain during January are beginning to wobble, it may help to remind yourself of the serious health risks associated with regular drinking:
• Liver disease
• Mouth cancer
• Throat cancer
• Breast cancer
• Heart disease
• Pancreatic cancer
• Brain damage
• Damage to the nervous system
• Worsening mental health
• Fertility problems
If you think being teetotal is no fun, try reading that list again. It’s scary reading but by cutting down or giving up altogether, you can reduce your risk of serious long-term health problems. There are many immediate hidden benefits to Dry January, too…
Research carried out by Sussex University in 2018 revealed some added bonuses to cutting back on the booze during January. Not only did the study show that most of those who managed the 31 days were still drinking less by August, it also reported that people were enjoying better sleep, saving money and losing weight, with a boost to their energy and better skin:
• 93% of participants had a sense of achievement
• 88% saved money
• 82% think more deeply about their relationship with drink
• 80% feel more in control of their drinking
• 76% learned more about when and why they drink
• 71% realised they don’t need a drink to enjoy themselves
• 70% had generally improved health
• 71% slept better
• 67% had more energy
• 58% lost weight
• 57% had better concentration
• 54% had better skin
The benefits of reducing alcohol are far reaching and can improve multiple areas of your life, including your work. Whether you’re an employer or employee, here are some startling facts from Alcohol Change UK about how alcohol consumption affects the workplace:
• 40% of employers mention alcohol as a significant cause of low productivity
• Between 3% and 5% of all work absence is caused by alcohol consumption
• 35% of people say they’ve noticed colleagues under the influence of drugs and alcohol at work
• 25% say that drugs or alcohol have affected them at work, with 23% saying they had experienced decreased productivity as a result
Now you know the facts, here are some top tips to help you stick to Dry January and reap all of those health benefits:
1. Make a list of all the reasons why you want to give up drinking – and keep referring to it. Keep writing it down again and again, too!
2. Remind yourself you’re not doing this alone. And remember, one in five people in the UK over the age of 16 don’t drink alcohol at all – ever.
3. Exercise when you feel a craving. After 10 minutes the craving will disappear, and you’ll feel good about yourself too.
4. Change the way you speak about alcohol. Say, ‘I don’t drink in January’ or ‘I am doing Dry January’, rather than ‘I have to do Dry January’. You’re more likely to succeed as a result.
5. Don’t keep it a secret. Tell others. You’ll be less likely to fail if everyone knows you’re doing it.
6. Treat yourself. Use some of that money you’re saving for something else more positive or enjoyable.
7. Give that sneaky ‘I want a drink’ voice an evil name (like Freddy Kreuger) and a separate identity. Learn to see it as the enemy.
8. Enjoy that feeling you’ll get after completing a night out without alcohol – and remind yourself how much better and easier it was than you thought.
9. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon but don’t use it as an excuse to go back to your pre-new-year ways. Just get right back on that wagon again.
10. Enjoy the perks of better skin, quality sleep and improved health, and be proud of your achievement, every single day.
Find this interesting? You might like this article too: Your Health and Alcohol