Brits benefit from giving up alcohol for ‘Dry January’
After the hullabaloo and excess of the holidays, January often feels like the right time to make some healthy resolutions about eating and drinking. Those of us who have gone a little overboard with the eggnog and champagne of late might start considering one hot New Year’s trend in particular: Dry January. Say sayonara to the sauce.
A major public policy push in England, Dry January is gaining traction all around the world as a way to hit the reset button on imbibing and learn how to be more mindful of consumption year round. In fact, one study from the University of Sussex in the UK shows that taking part in Dry January can bring about health benefits like improved sleep, more energy and weight loss.
“This is a long-established British tradition that should be welcomed in the U.S., even though we drink less than they do,” says Dr. Keith Humphreys, psychiatrist at Stanford Health Care.
The research, conducted by Sussex psychologist Dr. Richard de Visser, involved more than 800 people who took part in Dry January in 2018. The results show that most participants were still drinking less than usual by August. Overall, participants threw back the booze less often and sipped less when they did partake.
The lasting benefits were impressive. Seventy percent reported improved overall health, 71 percent slept better, 67 percent felt more energized, 58 percent lost weight, and 54 percent had better skin.
It’s a pretty easy way to boost your health as well as save some dough, experts say. Katie Witkiewitz, a professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico’s Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions, says that cutting back on the craft cocktails, even for just one month, can make a real difference.
“We know that reductions in drinking are associated with improved health and improved sleep and improved mood, and taking just a month to reduce your drinking reduces the overall pattern of consumption,” says Witkiewitz, as Time reports. “By cutting it out for a month, you’ve consumed less for the year.”
Experts say that even if you don’t make it all the way to February without a little fruit of the vine you may well have given yourself enough of a break to rethink your habits. That alone could be priceless.
“Taking a break from any behavior that has become a mindless habit, be it drinking, checking Twitter 100 times a day, or flipping on the television the moment we walk in the door,” says Humphreys, “provides an opportunity to re-assess if this is something we truly enjoy and want to keep doing so much.”