Dry January has become increasingly popular in recent years, but we’ll be the first ones to say it: There’s nothing quite like sipping on some good whiskey after a long day or enjoying a glass of red to enhance the deliciousness of dinner. Even so, that evening beverage—and the subsequent false feeling that everything’s suddenly a little easier to handle—can easily snowball into multiple drinks or drinking every day of the week. Even if you stay under two drinks per night (that’s considered “moderate” drinking for men), the effects of alcohol can add up night after night.
The problem: “Alcohol is a neurocognitive depressant, meaning it depresses the central nervous system. Over time, it can negatively impact nearly every system in the body,” says Abe Malkin, M.D., family medicine physician and medical advisor at Monument, a digital alcohol treatment platform.
Fortunately, the human body has an amazing ability to heal.
“The benefits of sobriety can become apparent in just a few weeks,” Malkin says, “like during a sobriety challenge.”
Taking a 30-day break from alcohol, such as during Dry January (or any time of year), can create a host of benefits, including better sleep, a more stable mood, less brain fog, and an improved immune response. Perhaps most notably, studies show it can improve your relationship with alcohol if and when you decide to imbibe again. Research even shows staying off the sauce for 30 days can actually make you feel more satisfied with life and more motivated and confident in your own abilities.
If you’re toying with the idea of going booze-free for a bit, it’s smart to commit to a challenge that has defined rules and expectations: A 2017 study in the European Journal of Public Health found that people who committed to Dry January were more successful at staying sober for the 30 days and had reduced problematic drinking six months later compared to people who set a more general goal to drink less.
“Popular sobriety challenges like Dry January provide an extra level of peer accountability and help normalize alcohol-free living as a proud choice,” Malkin adds.
And it doesn’t mean you have to give up booze forever: Dry January is a great way to develop a more mindful relationship with the joy juice moving forward.
When tallied up, the benefits of abstaining from alcohol for 30 days make a compelling case for giving it a try. Here are all the upsides you could see by taking a break from booze during Dry January (or anytime this year).
Dry January: 10 Benefits of Taking a 30-Day Break From Alcohol
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