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The year 2020 was incredibly difficult for a lot of people. COVID-19 protocols forced most people to spend more time at home — more than they would usually spend without human contact, to be sure. While some people are able to at least have the company of their families, this can still lead to stressful situations, as we all need a break from each other every once in a while. Additionally, many people found themselves dealing with the effects of loneliness and frustration. Even if you were lucky enough to keep your job through the pandemic, you may now be working from home — unable to talk to your co-workers face-to-face and interact with customers. You might also be in charge of supervising your child’s education or dealing with other stresses at the same time.

Not only does this lead to loneliness, but it also makes it easier for you to drink more than you normally would. Most of us won’t drink on the job when we need to go to the office. But a glass of wine at home, even if you’re working remotely, might not feel like as much of a transgression.

This is why the idea of Dry January might seem like a good move in 2021, perhaps more than it has during any year before. Dry January is the practice of going without alcohol for the entire month of January (or at least part of it, if you’re just hearing about the concept in the middle of the month). Although Dry January has been utilized by people that have substance abuse disorders, you certainly don’t need to have a drinking problem in order to benefit from Dry January. We’ve all been more at risk of overindulging a bit due to the stresses that came from 2020, so beginning 2021 with Dry January might just be a good idea in general. It certainly comes with a lot of benefits. Let’s discuss what you need to know if you want to reduce your alcohol intake this year.

Why Should I Try Dry January?

Even if drinking feels good, it isn’t necessarily very good for you. Of course, in moderation, it is perfectly fine for most of us to drink casually. But overdoing it can have serious health consequences for the long term, which is a major reason why a lot of people choose to try Dry January. Alcohol can have a negative impact on your liver function, so naturally drinking less alcohol will lessen that impact and make you less likely to experience complications later in life.

Additionally, alcoholic drinks are usually full of other unhealthy ingredients like sugar. Many of them are fairly high in calories, which means that a lot of people find themselves gaining weight if they drink too much alcohol. For context, it takes roughly an hour of hiking to burn over 500 calories, but not drinking alcohol for the month of January can help reduce your caloric intake even further. Those who struggle with blood sugar regulation may additionally have issues if they drink too much alcohol. Dry January can help you better handle the impulse to drink alcohol while losing weight at the same time.

Another benefit of Dry January is that it can help you become a safer drinker. If you’re constantly drinking to the point of becoming drunk, you’re potentially putting yourself and others at risk. You’ll be very much at risk of driving drunk, which can not only put yourself and others at risk of injury or even death but can also jeopardize your criminal record. In the state of Maryland, even a first DUI offense can come with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail. With 1,268,011 lawyers in the U.S. as of 2012, many of them advise drinking less to protect their clients from legal trouble.

Drinking less will also help you save money. After all, alcoholic beverages often aren’t cheap, especially if you like mixed drinks. Think about how much less expensive a meal at a restaurant would be if you didn’t buy an alcoholic drink. Considering that alcohol sales skyrocketed during the pandemic, it’s clear that many Americans are willing to spend their hard-earned income on booze. But with financial stability considered a luxury during these times, it may be a good idea to look at areas where you can cut back for the sake of your savings. Dry January can help you make lifestyle changes that will aid you in saving money and can allow you to plan ahead for the unknown.

In general, Dry January is meant to not only help you make practical changes but emotional ones as well. Drinking less can help you feel better physically and emotionally. People often experience depressive side effects when they drink. Not only is alcohol considered to be a depressant, but it can actually lower the effectiveness of antidepressants, which is why many psychiatrists advise that their patients drink less. Additionally, drinking less of an unhealthy beverage will naturally make you feel better over time. That’s why the event is organized around January; it helps you start the year off right.

How Can I Be Successful When Trying Dry January?

The concept of giving up all alcohol for a month is often easier said than done. Many people drink habitually and find themselves overindulging without even realizing it. But there are strategies that you can utilize to help yourself drink less. For one thing, you should think about when you typically drink and think of other things that can occupy your mind or body as a substitute. Rather than drinking, you could exercise, for example. This will help you experience a rush of endorphins as well, which can replace the relaxing effects that you would feel after drinking.

You could also take up a hobby instead. Drawing, rather than drinking, or perhaps taking up an intellectual hobby like reading is a great idea. Relying on a productive, creative hobby is also smart, as you can actually see the results from your efforts. Think about how much better you’ll feel if you cook a fantastic meal rather than drinking, for example.

Many people drink because they’re stressed, as well. Therefore, you should think of great ways that you could divert your stress. Pick up a stress ball or perhaps take up meditation. A sport is a great way for you to channel your stress. The point is that you should be prepared for a bit of an influx of stress when you try Dry January, at least at first. Think ahead for ways to cope with stress that don’t involve alcohol.

It’s easy to feel as if you’re doing Dry January wrong, but there aren’t any rules that come with this tradition. Focus on feeling better and what works for you and you would be amazed by what you can accomplish.