The holidays are a time of festive parties and ongoing celebration, which usually lead to nights (and even days) of overindulgence. The concept of Dry January originated in the UK in 2012, as an initiative to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.” But, the concept was such a hit, its popularity spilled over into the States as a way to hit the refresh button at the start of a New Year. So whether you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to drink less or just want to detox from the holidays, Dry January may just be the perfect reset for you.
There are a plethora of benefits from going 31 days without alcohol, but the biggest one is for your body. From advantages to your physical health to improvements to your mental state, we’re going to explain why we think you should give Dry January a shot (pun intended).
So, let’s talk about the health benefits.
If you need a little more convincing that Dry January is something you want to take part in, we’ve got all the ammunition you need right here.
1. Your health and mood may improve.
We all know that excessive and binge drinking is extremely hard on our bodies – with possibilities of leading to multiple negative side effects, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It can also increase your risk for certain diseases, including breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and liver problems. Learn more about those here.
And although we can’t claim that Dry January in itself will improve your health on a grand scale, it is probable that it will lead to healthier decisions down the line.
2. Your body may feel different.
Dry January is a great opportunity to take a step back and evaluate where your current relationship with alcohol lies. If you’ve noticed that you haven’t been feeling your best physically, it’s possible that excessive (or even regular) drinking may be the cause of that. Hitting the reset button may be helpful to see how you feel mentally, physically, and even socially when you’re not depending on alcohol.
3. You will sleep better!
Removing alcohol from your system will not only make you feel more clear-headed but also increase your energy and motivation levels throughout the day. This usually leads to better sleep patterns, which we all know can have an effect on every other part of our lives. Sleep is required to do all the things that always seem to pile up on our to-do lists day in and day out.
Not to mention, if you’re not going out and staying up late drinking most nights, you’ll sleep more and skip your workouts less! Less burnout + more productivity = win, win.
4. Your immune system may improve.
Did you know that drinking too much can weaken your immune system? According to the NIAAA (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism), being intoxicated can acutely suppress immune function, making you more vulnerable to pathogens. Additionally, chronic drinking can lead to inflammatory reactions throughout the body. This means, that even one night of drinking heavily can suppress your ability to fight off viruses and infections a good 24 hours later.
5. Alcohol may be the culprit for those pesky five pounds of bloat.
If you’re having several alcoholic beverages a week, simply cutting those out will provide a deficit to your daily caloric intake. Since a standard drink contains around 150 calories, and can even get up to 600 calories (we’re looking at you, White Russian), cutting out those drinks will help your diet tremendously. And unlike cutting out a certain food group or restricting caloric intake from food, cutting out your cocktails isn’t going to compromise on any of the nutrients that your body needs to be fueled and nourished.
In fact, drinking usually encourages you to eat more – impairing your judgment and leading you to make impulsive food choices that sound great in the moment, but then don’t feel so justified in the morning light. And, don’t get us started on what most of us eat while in the throes of a hangover. When you feel your best, it’s inevitable that you’ll make healthier choices all around.
All of this to say – giving up alcohol for the month of January can have many more advantages than just the obvious. Physically, mentally, and socially, we’re willing to bet that you could benefit from 31 days sans booze. We encourage you to take a moment to calibrate how you feel once February rolls around – if you feel healthier, more productive, liberated, or the like, it may be a routine you could see yourself trying again before the next New Year. If nothing else, maybe you’ll just appreciate that glass of celebratory champagne all the more.