We have spoken in the past about the benefits of sober months. While research has found health benefits associated with some types of alcohol, there are a lot of dangers and health drawbacks to drinking. Not drinking for a month can give you time to assess your relationship with booze and decide if drinking is something you enjoy.
Even a short break from drinking can help your health. “Most people who drink excessively have fatty livers,” said biological psychologist Aaron White of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Even taking a break for a month is enough to just bring your liver enzymes down and for your liver to look healthier.”
But not everyone is ready to make the break right after the holidays. While we think it’s wonderful if you are, we also acknowledge that “slow and steady wins the race.” If you can’t commit to a Dry January, have a Try January and cut back instead. If you normally have a glass of wine with dinner, try having a spritzer — a drink made with wine and seltzer water. You’ll cut down on calories, carbs and alcohol while enjoying the flavor.
If you drink more around certain people, examine why. Do they stress you out, or is it just how the group behaves together? You can reassess your relationships and change behaviors, opting to meet those people for coffee instead of nights out.
Nutritionist Gabriela Peacock, author of 2 Weeks to Feeling Great, said, “It is always good to be kinder to your body and give it a bit of a break, especially after the Christmas period when our alcohol consumption is quite high.”
She suggested going three or four consecutive days without alcohol. “This will help you to manage your stress levels too, as the start of the year can be really stressful. A bit of a reset for a few weeks at the start of the year can be really effective and give your body a break.”
The new year is a wonderful time to make positive changes in your life. The concept of a Dry January might be overwhelming if you drink daily with dinner or if it’s a regular part of your social life. But changing your behavior during a Try January can help you see how your body feels without the effects of alcohol. You can also try new activities with friends and family this month besides drinking. You might find that nature walks are a passion you have never explored before. Or you’ll learn that you’re better at bowling without a beer!
You have nothing to lose by having a Try January. But you might gain an alcohol-free February that could be the right choice for you. Or you might have a new, permanent alcohol-light lifestyle that is sustainable and healthier!