It is a commonly accepted truth that January is by far the worst four weeks of the year. A month’s cheerless misery lurking in the shadow of our Twixmas hangover, ready to smother our Christmas glow and drag us kicking and screaming back into the monotony of nine-to-five.
Advocates of straight and narrow, there’s nothing sane old January loves more of lugging us to school and work, reintroducing salads for lunch, and imposing daily gym sessions to stem the tide of excess, expanding waistlines, and glutton-induced guilt to contain .
And that’s not all. Not only does this time of year bring a barrage of divorce, debt and sad news, these days we’re encouraged to take this 31-day horror show dry as well. Yes, enduring four alcohol-free weeks is now the accepted New Year’s norm.
So if you’re thinking of tackling the 744 hours of January without raising a single glass, let’s toast your (soon to be) improved health with something non-alcoholic.
Here are some hints and tips to help you get through. See you on the other side for one hell of a hangover.
What is dry January?
It’s a campaign encouraging social drinkers to abstain from alcohol for the first month of the year.
Quitting alcohol in January is a fairly recent phenomenon, and like most social trends, no one is quite sure who started it and why.
What we do know is that the phrase ‘dry January’ was coined by UK charity Alcohol Concern in 2012 when they launched their flagship campaign to encourage people to get rid of the hangover after Christmas and stop drinking for 31 days to renounce.
The campaign has grown from year to year. The Irish Heart Foundation runs an On the Dry campaign annually, with thousands of participants looking for sponsors to keep the drink away and raise funds for the charity. And if the chatter on social media is any indication, many more are saying goodbye to alcohol and getting on board too.
How does my health benefit?
Research from the Royal Free Hospital states that a month without alcohol improves concentration, blood sugar levels and blood pressure and is of course good for the liver.
Having more energy, sleeping better, having clearer skin and losing weight are also among the benefits cited by challenge participants.
Along with the plethora of health benefits, there’s the money you’ll save (which is always welcome in January), not to mention fewer wasted hangover-quenching weekends and that February 1st sense of accomplishment.
It has been suggested that abstaining from alcohol for four weeks in February could lead to binge drinking. However, Alcohol Concern says there is no evidence for this. In fact, research from the University of Sussex last year found that 72 percent of people who ended dry January drink less in the six months afterwards.
How can I actually avoid alcohol?
1. Stay away from the pub: It goes without saying, but nothing will make you crave alcohol more than being around other people who are drinking. If you usually meet your friends in a bar, why not suggest a cafe, cinema or museum? You never know, you might not miss that rickety old bar stool.
2. Non-Alcoholic Beverages: If you can’t avoid a visit to the pub, remember that large pub chains stock non-alcoholic beer – especially at this time of year when customers try to stay on the right track.
If you’re staying at home and want to drink something other than tap water, dig last year’s Nutribullet out of the back of the cupboard and blend it up, or try some exotic teas.
Wine writer Victoria Moore offered a useful tip to remember: try drinking a tonic without gin—there’s something about the soothing hiss of the can and the quinine taste of the tonic that can almost make you think you’re drinking a tonic have real drink. Nearly.
3. Download a helpful app: Alcohol Concern has a free app called Dry January & Beyond. This allows you to track if you’ve had a drink on a given day to show you how far you’ve come. It also shows you how much money you have saved. As you upgrade, the app will send daily motivational news, articles, recipes, and tips to keep you on track.
4. Make a Friend: Not drinking alone is miserable. Getting a partner or friend to give up alcohol with you makes it a lot easier to miss out.
5. Treat yourself: Put the money you save by not drinking to good use, whether it’s on a vacation or that new pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on for a long time. You’ll be amazed at what four martinis can buy you.
6. Take up a hobby: It’s important to distract yourself and be happy. This way you don’t fall into the trap of drinking a glass of wine after a stressful day.
Join a book club, get started on that novel, or enroll in a new class—as long as it’s not wine tasting.
7. Hide the alcohol: A wine rack that you see as soon as you enter the kitchen is your worst enemy.
Get all alcohol out of the house before you start your cleanup, or at least stuff the bottles in a cupboard. Out of sight out of mind.
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/healthy-eating/how-to-get-through-dry-january-tricks-to-make-it-easier-36453034.html How to get through “dry January”: tricks that make it easier