Dry January? How to make it a success
What, Why & How?
What is it?
Dry January is the chance to kick start a healthy new year by giving up alcohol for a whole month. Having started as a public health campaign by Alcohol Concern in 2011, it’s now in its eighth run, and with five million Brits signing up in 2017, it’s clearly a popular movement that’s on the rise.
What are the benefits?
Dr William Alazawi, Consultant Hepatologist at BMI The Sloane Hospital in Kent, said “Going dry for a month can help in lots of ways. It can give your liver a rest and a chance to recover from all the food and drink we enjoyed in the run up to Christmas and New Year. Alcohol is full of calories, so a month off can help you lose weight and give your New Year’s gym resolution a bit of a boost. Avoiding alcohol can help you sleep better, wake up refreshed and feel more positive for the day ahead.  “
With figures showing that the average Briton spends £50,000 on alcohol over the course of their lifetime, it’s clear that cutting alcohol for a month can make our wallets happier, too.
And these are just the short-term benefits. Dr Alazawi says experiencing Dry January can also help us re-assess our alcohol consumption, and the attitudes we have to our health in the long-term, reducing the risk of liver and heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.
We all know that excess alcohol can have an impact on our livers, and Dr Alazawi is keen to point out that it’s not too late to make a change – livers can make a recovery from scarring.
He said: “We can see the extent of scarring using a Fibroscan, which is a specialized piece of equipment that we now have here at BMI The Sloane Hospital. This is a simple, painless test that takes less than 10 minutes to perform and you can have the results straight away. It does not involve needles or injections making it very straight forward for people to learn about their liver health.”
How to stick to Dry January
Signing up is the easy part. It’s fantastic to want to give your body (and bank balance) a break, but those bleak days in January can sometimes make it seem like an insurmountable challenge. Here are our top tips for making it a success.
- Tell your family and friends - Making your intentions known is the first step to an alcohol-free month. It’ll help explain why you’re not having a glass of wine at dinner, or joining your mates for your usual Friday-night pint. Not only will you get nods and smiles of encouragement, you may even inspire others to join you!
- Avoid temptation - Don’t stock alcohol at home, and avoid places or social gatherings in January that will tempt you to drink. This can be difficult after the excesses of the festival season, but just think how much good you’re doing to your body. If you have to attend, volunteer to be the designated driver – that way you can easily refuse a tipple.
- Treat yourself - Why not put the money you would normally spend on alcohol aside, and see how much mounts up? You can then treat yourself to something totally alcohol-free! There are plenty of ways to remain stimulated when you’d normally be having a drink: go to the cinema, or arrange a nice day out with friends. Cutting out alcohol shouldn’t be a punishment; you’ll only be successful if you make yourself feel good along the way.
- Monitor your progress - There’s nothing more satisfying and rewarding than seeing those successful days of the new year ticked off. Follow your progress with this handy calendar from Alcohol Concern, or use their app. If the prospect of an entire month is daunting, give yourself even shorter goals to get through it.
- Start now! - Cutting down before cutting yourself off might be the best way to make Dry January a roaring success. To see what you’re capable of before the pressure’s on, try not drinking for a whole week. Your body won’t be in total shock once the new year rolls around, and you’ll already have started to feel the benefits of reduced-alcohol intake.
Credit: BMI Healthcare