“Dry January appeals to someone who may have noticed a pattern that they’re drinking a little bit more than they should, especially during the holidays,” says Michael Levy, Ph.D., a psychologist based in Florida and the author of Take Control of Your Drinking.
For women, moderate consumption of alcohol is about one glass per day and no more than seven per week. Drinking more than that can lead to a slew of health issues, so a month-long break could be the kickstart you’re looking for in the new year.
When February hits, you might find that you don’t need alcohol as much as you thought and you could even reap some significant health benefits. “You may feel so good that you decide, what was I drinking for to begin with?” says Amy Knoblock-Hahn, Ph.D., R.D., a registered dietitian and health behavior expert at Whole Food Is Medicine in St. Louis.
How Dry January benefits your health:
You’ll get a mood boost.
A glass of wine might seem to perk you up and wash the day’s worries away. Over time though, if consuming alcohol becomes a main coping strategy, it may hide underlying depression or anxiety,
You’ll sleep more soundly.
After a night of drinking, it’s common to fall asleep quickly — only to reawaken a few hours later. Research suggests that may happen because alcohol interferes with our body’s handling of the chemical adenosine.
You might notice less bloating or weight loss.
Depending on how much you were drinking before (as well as your starting weight), it’s possible you could lose a couple of pounds per week
You’ll save money.
If you’ve been regularly shelling out $10 to $15 for a fancy cocktail or pour of wine, that adds up fast.
Your skin might look brighter.
Alcohol is a known diuretic, which means it causes you to pee more than if you just drink water.
You’ll have a stronger immune system.
Binge drinking (more than four drinks on a single occasion for women) may suppress your body’s immune response.
You’ll feel better in the morning.
Even if you don’t wake up with a full-blown hangover after drinking, you likely aren’t waking up at your best.
You’ll have a new relationship with alcohol.
A pause on alcohol may help you realize that you don’t have to drink every day or even drink at all.
Know when to get help from a pro.
If the urge to drink feels out of your control, you feel guilty about your drinking or if it causes problems for you at work or in your relationships and you’re unable to stop drinking, alcohol may have become a problem that Dry January just can’t fix. A therapist can assess your situation and figure out what’s going on and how you can move forward in a healthier and happier way.