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Dry January

Elimination diets are popular for most resolution makers, but you can also kick-start your renewal with a dry, alcohol-free January.

| January/February 2019

  • Dry January can help you discover health and culinary possibilities outside of alcohol consumption.
    Photo by Getty Images/Elisaveta Ivanova
  • If out with friends during Dry January, have a list of exciting nonalcoholic beverages in mind to order for yourself, such as a ginger beer or "mocktails."
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Jacob Lund
  • Lavender has calming therapeutic properties that can help ease you into a peaceful bedtime.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Madeleine Steinbach
  • Milk thistle, sometimes enjoyed in teas, can cleanse and support the liver.
    Photo by Getty Images/TolikoffPhotography
  • Assessing your alcohol use can help you determine if Dry January is right for you.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Africa Studio

Many people round out each December with a season of celebration, and greet the new year by setting intentions for health and wellness. This collective optimism makes the first month of the year a natural fit for “Dry January” — a designation created by U.K. charity Alcohol Concern, which, in 2013, started a public health campaign calling for people to put drinking on hold for one month.

Taking such a pause can bring relief after holiday indulgence, and help you become aware of your relationship with alcohol during different occasions — celebration, grief, joy, stress, parenthood, dating, and any reason in between. However, Dry January is not a pass for overconsumption the rest of the year; it’s a chance to gauge your alcohol consumption and investigate the benefits of spending one month alcohol-free. At social functions, you can say you’re participating in this official event to explain why you’re passing on that glass of cabernet.

Health Benefits of an Alcohol Break

My own month-long experiment with alcohol abstinence led me to long-term refrainment, during which I’ve reveled in the benefits and new habits listed in this article. You can put these recommendations to use during your own Dry January, or at any time of year when you feel you need a break to reassess or complement other health goals.

Rise and shine. Alcohol is a diuretic that causes dehydration, so a period of refraining will help you stay hydrated throughout the night. With no chance of waking up hungover this month, you’ll get out of bed feeling refreshed more frequently. Your Dry January commitment may also assist you in accomplishing other goals you’ve set for yourself, because you’ll have more time in the morning and throughout the day to fit them in.

Sleep tight. Your nights will get a boost from Dry January too. Alcohol interferes with sleep cycles, leading to disrupted slumber and daytime drowsiness. You may have an easier time sticking to a consistent sleep schedule while abstaining, and once you fall asleep, you’ll sleep more deeply.

Glowing skin. Alcohol’s dehydrating effects may impact the skin, leading to breakouts, dryness, and inflammation — so taking a break from alcohol may clear up your complexion, especially when paired with improved sleep. Redness and puffiness will retreat, leaving behind rehydrated, radiant skin.

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