The holidays are a time full of fun food and drink, and celebrating with a glass of champagne or a few cocktails is all part of the fun of this special time of year. However, now that January has arrived and brought around New Year’s resolutions, it’s common for people to step back and take a look at what they’ve been putting into their body over the past few weeks. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a few drinks, many people find that they’ve overindulged during the holidays and feel that it would be beneficial to cut back. That’s where the idea of a dry January comes in.
Dry January involves completely avoiding alcohol for an entire month. Unsurprisingly, between the holidays and the stress of the ongoing pandemic, many people are feeling like they might have been drinking a bit too much lately and are considering cutting back. Having a dry January can have a lot of benefits on your physical and mental health, so if you’re taking part in this 31-day challenge, here are some of the perks that you can expect to see!
Weight Loss or Decreased Bloating
If you’re a regular drinker, once you cut out alcohol you might notice the effects on your physique. Alcoholic beverages are liquid calories, especially carbohydrate-heavy beers or sugary cocktails. Additionally, like all high-calorie drinks, alcohol adds to your calorie intake without keeping you full, which raises your intake even further since you’ll still need to eat. Alcohol also forces your body to retain water, so even if you don’t actually shed any pounds during your dry January, you might find that you look slimmer or more toned thanks to decreased puffiness and bloating.
Better Hormone Function
Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers, and alcohol can impair the function of the glands that release them. Because hormones control just about everything in your body, this means that habitual drinking can have widespread effects on everything from your blood sugar to your sleep to your cortisol levels. If you’re a regular drinker, you might not even notice how much your alcohol intake is affecting you until you do something like a dry January. As the month goes on, you’ll probably notice that you just feel better, and can’t really put your finger on what specifically improved. In reality, it’s probably your hormone function!
Stronger Immune System
While research on this subject is limited, there is evidence to suggest that drinking alcohol, especially binge drinking, can suppress your immune system. Alcohol abuse is associated with a higher risk for infectious diseases due to its effects on your immune cells. Especially now during the pandemic, maintaining a healthy immune response is on a lot of people’s minds, and while cutting out alcohol is certainly not a replacement for proper self-protection against Covid-19 and other winter diseases like the flu, it will certainly do your immune system some good.
Improved Relationship with Alcohol
You might think that your relationship with alcohol is perfectly fine and you’re not dependent on it at all, but taking a month off for a dry January might give you a completely different perspective on how drinking fits into your life. You may find that you mindlessly drink more out of habit than anything else, or that the nightly cocktail or glass of wine you usually reach for to relax isn’t actually necessary for you to unwind after a long day. On top of that, taking a break from drinking will alter your alcohol tolerance, so that going forward, when you indulge on a special occasion, you won’t need to drink as much to feel the effects.
More Money for Other Things
Let’s face it: alcohol is expensive. When it’s a habitual expense that’s so ingrained into your regular budget, it’s easier to forget about it, but the more you drink, the more money you’re dropping at bars and restaurants and on trips to the liquor store. Taking a month off from booze might have some effects on your bank account that you’ll be pretty happy about. You may find at the end of the month that you like having the extra cash too much to return to drinking the same amount! Whether you’re tucking the extra money away in a savings account for a rainy day or spending it on a new and exciting hobby, you’re sure to find uses for it that are just as good (if not better) than spending it on alcohol.
Whether you’re looking to improve your physical health or your mental health, taking a dry January is sure to give you the boost you’re looking for. And if you’re late to the party this month, take a dry February! The hashtag might not be as popular, but you’ll still reap the benefits of reassessing your relationship with alcohol and prioritizing your own wellbeing.