It’s that time of year when we’re all recovering – financially and physically – from the indulgences of Christmas and the New Year.
By giving up alcohol for just 31 days you are likely to lose weight (assuming you’re not also devouring the left over Christmas chocolates!), feel more refreshed and you’ll save yourself a few quid on the side.
It all sounds so simple, but in practice giving up alcohol for a month can be tricky. Especially when you consider that January 2017 crosses five weekends. That’s five tempting weekends without touching a boozy beverage.
Here are our top tips to get you through dry January.
- Don’t brave it on your own
Bribe an unsuspecting friend, partner or work colleague to jump on the wagon with you. You’ll find it ten times easier if you have a buddy for your dry January. You can share tales of crazy nights quaffing Yorkshire Tea through the night.
- Get out and about
Don’t be tempted to lock the doors, close the curtains and hibernate your way through the month. Use the mornings that you’re not so familiar with to do things that you might not normally do, which brings us on to point three.
- Find a hobby
You’ll be amazed by the amount of spare time you suddenly have when haven’t spent your Saturday and Sunday morning nursing a blinding hangover. Make good use of those extra hours, pick a new hobby or learn something new. You’ll add to your smugness level at the end of the month.
- Tell people
There is a fine line between preaching and informing, but if you tell people you are doing a dry January you are less likely to fail. After all, no one wants to lose face!
- Do something special
Along with your liver; you’ll be saving a pretty penny this month, so why not use those funds to treat yourself. If you’re a regular drinker, frequenting the pubs at the weekend and drinking through the week you could easily be saving upwards of £200 a month. Book yourself a short break or buy yourself a smoothie maker. Use Alcohol Concern’s Impact Calculator to see how much you could save.
- Know your numbers
You might be surprised by how many calories are in your drink. Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, almost as many as pure fat! In relatable terms, one pint of beer is equivalent to a large slice of pizza and a large glass of wine contains as many calories as an ice cream.
- Keep your chin up
Try not to look upon your month of abstinence with an attitude of dread. If you think of it negatively, your experience is likely to be exactly that. Use this experience to feel proud of yourself (don’t boast too much though). Don’t focus on what you’re missing out on; focus on what you’re gaining from the experience.
- Stock up on healthy snacks
It will be very tempting to fill the ‘void’ with snacks and treats. Pre-empt your cravings by stocking up on healthy foods that will sate your appetite. To help you out here’s some surprisingly low calorie snacks.
- Avoid the pub
This almost didn’t make the list because it is so obvious, but actually it’s worth mentioning. If you would usually arrange a meeting in the pub; change your habits and plan to meet in a coffee shop instead – especially on a Friday evening when there’s the added temptation to stay after you’ve done your ‘work’.
If you manage to make it through the month unscathed, then you can give yourself a big pat on the back. If you succumbed to temptation try to look at the positives, if you simply cut back then that’s great too.
It’s worth remembering that there are genuine benefits to a month of alcohol abstinence. In a small scale experiment conducted by New Scientist, ten members of staff abstained from alcohol for five weeks and their health data was recorded before and after. The benefits were marked; on average liver fat decreased by 15%, blood glucose levels dropped by 16%, total blood cholesterol dropped by 5%. On a more anecdotal side, the abstainers reported a better quality of sleep, which has an impact on life/work performance.
The only negative reported was a decrease in social contact, but if you follow our tips above this shouldn’t pose a problem.