Dry January has become a pretty trendy health kick in the past few years. For the second year in a row my boyfriend and I decided to give it a try. Being an expat away from your family on the holidays usually calls for an excess amount of alcohol and parties to make up for it. Okay, let’s be real, being a millennial on planet earth usually calls for an excess amount of alcohol and parties. This year I definitely kept it in check much better than previous holiday binge months, but I still woke up on December 31st feeling ready to get back to my healthy ways. If you don’t have time to read this or you want some more details from my experience check out my vlog about this topic here.
Have you ever tried Dry January? What about giving up alcohol on purpose for an extended period of time? If you think.. “I don’t need to do that” or “I could never do that” then those are two warning signs you definitely do. Here’s a closer look at my experience and why you should give it a try.
Physical benefits– Personally I experienced much clearer skin, an increase in energy, a huge improvement in my sleeping pattern, more strength to push myself in my workouts and what I assume was some weight loss (I don’t have a scale.) When you aren’t drinking and hungover you can keep up with your fitness and nutrition goals much easier. I don’t know about you but I’m not signing up for yoga class and eating a kale salad if I was out until 1 am drinking tequila. I’m not saying 30 days without alcohol will do all this for you but all of these benefits have been agreed upon by most who have given up alcohol for an extended period of time. You definitely aren’t hurting yourself physically.
Mental benefits– As someone who suffers from anxiety and ADHD, when I am hungover my anxiety and ADHD skyrocket. I feel guilty and nervous about the fact that I can’t complete my to do list, household chores and sometimes even get out of bed. 30 days without alcohol left me feeling like a much less scatterbrained version of myself. I felt very positive and motivated and didn’t feel the “brain fog” that you often experience after a big night on the town. I feel like my thoughts quickly sharpened and I was better at making decisions.
Social benefits– Wait, but don’t we use alcohol to socialize? Well, yes the majority of millennials do but that’s the problem. We should be able to call up a friend and go for a meal, a hike, a beach trip or a totally random adventure without relying on alcohol. Months or periods of my life where I am drinking less I am spending more time doing new things during my weekend days instead of wasting the day in bed hungover. You start to realize who really wants to hang out and who only wants to do things when a pint of beer or a few glasses of wine are involved.
Emotional benefits- Stress is a huge emotion that can sometimes take over my life. I am learning day in and day out how to better cope with stress in positive ways. I always used to turn to a glass of wine after teaching like an old friend that could give me hug and a cuddle on the couch but removing alcohol has taught me how to deal with those feelings in a more constructive manner. Sometimes I can’t deal with them, but at least I spend the time feeling them. It’s a terrifying reality that so many of us use alcohol as a bandaid to cover up wounds that probably needs stitches or maybe even surgery. Personally, I would rather take care of it right the first time instead of dealing with the same emotions again and again.
Relationship benefits– It’s not what you think. I’m talking about your relationship with alcohol. You don’t know what you got til it’s gone. 30 days without alcohol helps you to realize why you drink it in the first place. Is it for social settings, a comfort tool, something you love the taste of or a way that you forget about your problems? Maybe you find out that you really love going out with your friends and drinking is a big part of your life still, which is absolutely fine. But if you don’t give it up, it’s really hard to determine why that relationship exists and how healthy it is.
Control benefits– One of the biggest realizations I came to during my stint of Dry January was a feeling of control over my decisions. Going without alcohol, sugar, coffee, you name it- for an extended period of time puts the control back in your hands and when you conquer that challenge, it reminds you that you can live without just about anything. For me, I feel much more mindful when I integrate alcohol back into my life and I’m not just sucking back drinks with no concept of what it’s doing to my body or how I will feel in the morning. We all want to feel like we are in control of our lives and giving up on something that is hard for us to control is a wonderful place to start.
Have I sworn off alcohol forever? Nope. Do you have to choose one or the other? Nope. Can you be passionate about a healthy lifestyle and still drink? Of course. Have I had a drink since? Yup. Do I still believe everything I said here? 100 %
Should you give up drinking for 30 days? Yes, you should. Give it a try. Think of it as an experiment. The benefits are endless and I promise you will finish that month feeling accomplished. But remember… everything in moderation, including moderation.