Dr. Gautam Desai, Professor & Chair, Department of Primary Care
Kansas City University
After the excesses of the holiday season, many have found that Dry January (taking a month-long break from drinking alcohol) can have a positive impact on your health and overall well-being. “There are some immediate physical changes you may notice, but one of the best things that occurs is that pause gives you a chance to see how alcohol impacts your relationships, your mood and energy levels, and gives you a chance to reflect,” said Dr. Gautam Desai, DO, Professor & Chair, Department of Primary Care Kansas City University. Because of the many benefits, Dr. Desai offered these recommendations to help ease into Dry January.
1. Improve sleep: Many people find that they sleep better when they abstain from alcohol. Alcohol can interfere with sleep patterns, leading to disrupted or poor-quality sleep. By cutting out alcohol for a month, you may notice improvements in the quality and duration of your sleep, which can have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being.
2. Reflect on your relationship with alcohol: Dry January provides a chance to examine how alcohol affects your mood, energy levels, and relationships. By taking a break from drinking, you can gain insight into your drinking habits and assess whether any changes may be beneficial for your long-term health and happiness.
3. Save money: One of the short-term benefits of Dry January is that it can save you money. Taking a break from alcohol means you won’t be spending money on drinks when you go out or buying alcohol to consume at home. Use this opportunity to put the money you save towards other goals or treat yourself to something special.
1. Seek alternative activities: Instead of reaching for a drink, explore alternative activities that can provide enjoyment and relaxation. Use the time typically spent drinking to engage in hobbies, exercise, spend time with loved ones, read, or try new experiences. Finding healthy alternatives to alcohol can help you create new habits and discover fulfilling activities that don’t rely on alcohol for enjoyment.
2. Experiment with mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks: Just because you’re not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy flavorful and exciting beverages. Get creative and try making mocktails or exploring non-alcoholic drink options. There are plenty of recipes available online that mimic the taste and experience of alcoholic beverages without the intoxicating effects. Discovering new flavors and combinations can make your Dry January experience more enjoyable.
Dr. Desai cautions, “If you are a heavy or chronic drinker, it’s important to seek medical guidance before quitting alcohol abruptly to avoid any potential withdrawal symptoms or complications.” For those who can safely participate, Dry January can be a beneficial and eye-opening experience that can lead to positive changes in your lifestyle and relationship with alcohol.
By giving your body a break from alcohol for a month, you may experience improved sleep, better overall health, and a fresh perspective on your drinking habits .. So, why not take on the challenge and see what benefits you can reap from participating in Dry January? Cheers to a healthy start to the new year!