With a whole month of the new year already coming to an end, people are still likely to be keeping their resolutions and sticking to goals. But while Dry January could be the month that spikes motivation to a whole new high, the real trick is avoiding a February plummet.
We’ve all heard of the challenges like Dry January, Dry July and Ocsober, where one abstains from drinking alcohol for the entire month — often to raise money for charity. While these challenges often give back to people and communities in need, more importantly they help people consider their relationship with alcohol if they haven’t before, and to better understand whether or not that relationship is healthy.
Dry January is often taken on in an attempt to redeem oneself from an overindulgence during the festive season, which, let’s face it many of us are guilty of.
But this is exactly where the problem lies … Why do we feel the need to drink to excess during a celebration? And isn’t it telling us something deeper about our drinking culture when going just one month without drinking alcohol is such a real challenge that people will financially sponsor us to do so? There’s bound to be those who toast to their success by finishing a bottle of wine or two.
The real challenge lies in acknowledging and carrying through the lessons learnt during Dry January and adapting a healthy relationship with alcohol henceforth.
Many partakers realise they need to cut back on their alcohol intake and want to continue a moderate drinking behaviour they self identify with, thus reducing the extreme drinking behaviour that caused the month off in the first place.
Lessons learnt and benefits gained
Experiences from abstaining for the month vary for different people depending on factors including how regularly and how much they drink. Nonetheless, everyone will gain something out of doing one of these challenges, whether that be on a physical, mental or deeper self awareness level. Recent research on people drinking an average of 35 units a week has shown that going dry for just one month decreases liver stiffness (a sign of liver damage) by 10–15 per cent and leads to significant reductions in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance. And this is only the tip of the iceberg: other benefits include improved sleep quality, avoiding dependence, enhancing relationships with your loved ones and work colleagues, boosting your productivity and saving money. If one can benefit from these improvements for just one month, imagine a lifestyle where you consistently understand and negotiate your relationship with alcohol.