With alcohol consumption one of the UK’s biggest health risks, it’s no wonder that more and more of us are taking up Alcohol Concern’s challenge to complete Dry January. Dry January started in the UK in 2013 to help people “reset their relationship with alcohol.” It has since grown in popularity around the world.
But two weeks’ into any new regime can feel like a lifetime, especially if you’re one of the millions of us who enjoyed ourselves a little too much over the festive season. If you’ve made it this far….well done! The good news is that any initial side effects should be subsiding, which means you can just enjoy feeling healthy for the next two weeks – or perhaps longer. If you feel you need an additional boost, try the Dry January & Beyond app – if not for you, for your wallet!
To help you get through the next couple of weeks we thought we’d share a few reminders of why you decided to stay off the booze in the first place:
- Lose weight – alcohol is considered ‘empty calories’ – in other words it is full of calories without any nutrients or benefits. It is not just the alcohol itself – hopefully you won’t be eating typical calorie-laden hangover food either. Even if you exercise a lot but drink a fair amount, alcohol can really hinder your body’s fat burning process. Now you haven’t got it in your system, get exercising and watch the fat burn away! And if that weren’t enough, Alcohol Concern says that 49% of participants have lost weight during a Dry January stint.
- Sleep better – alcohol can help some people fall into a deep initial sleep, but as the night progresses it causes disruptions. After your initial two weeks you should be getting a much higher quality, deeper night’s sleep – 62% of people say they get better sleep and have more energy according to Alcohol Concern.
- Better skin – alcohol is a diuretic, therefore your kidneys produce more urine, which causes you to become dehydrated. This can have a particular impact on your skin, which can suffer from dryness, redness and spots, not to mention puffy eyes. You also use up essential nutrients. For instance your skin needs vitamin A, but doesn’t get as much as it should when you’re drinking. It can take at least two weeks off the alcohol to start seeing the skin benefits, so hopefully you’ll see some progress from now on.
- Improved mood and motivation – alcohol is a depressant, so going without for a period of time should leave you feeling generally more upbeat and motivated. The fact that you are doing this is an achievement that should be celebrated, too.
- More energy – this isn’t just because you are getting better sleep but also because your body’s ability to store energy has improved. This should lead to better motivation, willingness to exercise, which leads back to better mood, continued good sleep and weight loss. All of the benefits link to one another.
- In it for the long haul - A 2016 study concluded that it is likely that having a month off the alcohol leads to drinking less throughout the rest of the year.
- Healthier wallet – definitely a mood enhancer! According to Alcohol Concern 79% of participants say that they save money during Dry January.
If you are finding the social side tough, here are a few tips to consider:
- There is no need to stop going out and having fun altogether. Why not choose different venues? For instance, bars that serve amazing non-alcoholic cocktails that you would never bother making for yourself at home. Or for something completely different, why not get your friends to go bowling. All Star Lanes have really smart venues in London and Manchester and while they do come with bars, the bowling acts as a distraction for anyone not on the booze. Plus it’s great hidden exercise, too!
- If you would rather not tell your friends you are not drinking, let the bar staff know, more often than not they like to play the game with you and help you fool your friends.
- Perhaps use this as a time to venture further afield than your normal bus or walk home – you could get on your bike and go for miles knowing you are safe (as long as you have the right visible and reflective clothing!) to cycle home sober.
- Capitalise on your new energy boost and find a friend to start training with. A study last year showed that working out with a buddy isn’t just great for your physical, but can lower stress levels by as much as 26%. For more tips on the pros and cons of exercising with a buddy, check out the Invision guide.
Keep going and good luck!