After a healthy 2019? The Dry January challenge could be just what you need to give it a kickstart. Here’s our guide to doing it right
Whether you want a new you for the New Year or just a healthy 2019 there’s one simple change you could make – give up drinking for a month, and the Dry January challenge allows you to do just that.
The annual campaign aims to encourage people to quit alcohol for the whole of the month and look at their relationship with alcohol going forward.
Some people use the Dry January challenge as an opportunity for a rest and a detox, while for others it helps them change their habits and even acts as a launchpad for going alcohol-free permanently.
A spokesman for the initiative says: “Lots of us feel like we’re drinking a bit too much or too often or just like we could do with some time off.
“It only takes three weeks to break a habit so this could be your route to happier, healthier drinking long-term.”
Run by national charity Alcohol Change UK, Dry January also offers people a chance to raise money for a range of chosen charities if they get people to sponsor them in the challenge.
But as well as pulling in pounds, there are plenty of personal benefits to having a booze-free month.
Alcohol is linked to lots of conditions, such as liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and certain cancers, such as mouth and throat. According to Alcohol Change UK, it is also the biggest cause of death for people aged 15 to 49.
A month off with the Dry January challenge will give your body a welcome break and allow you to see how cutting down can improve your whole outlook so if you decide to resume drinking in February you’re more aware of its effects.
The NHS recommends sticking to no more than 14 units per week, the equivalent of six pints of beer or 10 small glasses of wine, and having alcohol-free days.
Drinking alcohol can disrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish. Even though a drink might help you drop off more quickly, you don’t tend to sleep as deeply, so in the end you may feel even more shattered the next day.
Alcohol can also disturb your sleep as you might need to get up to empty your bladder. Dehydration can also be a problem, waking you up thirsty in the middle of the night.
Your skin is bound to improve without the booze in your system. Alcohol dehydrates the body, including your skin, which can leave it looking dull and tired. Having a break could be just the tonic to make it sparkle.
Drinking more water during the Dry January challenge will also have a positive effect on your skin, helping it to look clearer, while improved sleep will also help.
A weighty issue
Ditching the booze for a month is sure to help you shed some pounds. According to the NHS, a standard glass of wine can contain as many calories as a piece of chocolate, while a pint of lager is similar to a packet of crisps.
As long as you don’t replace the alcohol with fizzy drinks and find something a little healthier, such as water or perhaps a detoxifying smoothie, you could see the weight dropping after a month off. There are plenty of juicing and smoothie recipes to try out.
Alcohol is also said to cause bloating and puffiness in the face, as well as the stomach, so the benefits could affect your whole appearance.
Money, money, money
Another advantage is you’ll have more money in your pocket, now you’re not buying bottles of wine or beer. This is a major bonus when you’re trying to save the pennies in January and any cash left over at the end of the month could go towards a little treat for yourself.
Anyone who wants to take part in Dry January will get access to a free app to keep track, receive regular support emails with advice and access to help if it’s needed. To take part visit the Dry January page on Alcohol Change.
If you’d just like to give up the booze without taking part officially, there are plenty of tips on cutting down on alcohol on the NHS website, or you could consult your own GP for advice.
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