Dry January: should you take a break?

As we emerge from the social whirlwind and excess of the festive season, many of us ring in the New Year with a pledge to abstain from alcohol. Dry January encourages us to re-examine our relationship with the ethanol-based intoxicant that we might have *slightly* overindulged with in December. But does the science say you should take a break?

If you’ve drunk a lot – or even a little – over the holiday period, there are lots of reasons why a month of sobriety is likely to bring you a brimful of benefits this Dry January. Unfortunately, research shows there is no safe level for drinking alcohol – not even a single pint on a Friday night!

While drinking moderately and within recommended alcohol guidelines can successfully cut your risk of health complications and addiction, taking a whole month off gives your body, mind, and liver time to heal and repair. It also allows you to reassess alcohol’s role in your life: have bad habits crept in? Join the over 140,000 of us who will be switching to virgin mojitos (maybe) and tomato juice (or a soft drink you actually enjoy) this month for #DryJanuary – Cheers!

Why do older people drink alcohol? Drink up the research

Alcohol can be a crutch that people use to combat shyness or simply to relax, but unfortunately, booze is not exactly benign. While the pandemic drove many to drink more than they would usually, rates of alcohol consumption are still higher post-lockdown than before. Alcohol consumption has been steadily increasing, especially in the over-fifties. Why is this? It’s not just a pandemic phenomenon. It’s partly to do with the social aspect of drinking, partly to do with stress. Many fifty-plus adults in the UK have caring responsibilities for both their children and their parents, while also juggling challenging careers or major life changes.

Find out why worse hangovers as you age are not the only risk in increased drinking, and what’s driving the boom in drinking habits.

What type of exercise is best for my health?

So, are you in for Dry January? Whether you plan to abstain or not, you can mitigate the effects of alcohol or amplify the benefits of a sober month by boosting your mental and physical well-being. Regular exercise helps manage booze-related cravings and can reduce the stress that makes you reach for your next drink.

Alcohol is also a depressant, and as January is statistically the most depressing month of the year, you might want to consider swapping the sauce for soft drinks… But if you’re not willing to give alcohol up, you can still boost your mood by adding fitness to your routine. If you’re wondering where to start, your first port of call should be our animation: What type of exercise is best for my health?

Can I overcome stress, anxiety and depression with daily supportive messages?

Finally, Dry January is a great time to take a break and reassess your habits and your health.

If you want to combat stress, depression, or other mental health issues that might be causing you to reach for a drink more often than you maybe should, could daily supportive messages help? Learn about how text messages could help with depression, anxiety, stress, suicidal ideation, insomnia and thoughts about self-harm. Maybe one for the sober toolkit throughout Dry January?

Thanks for viewing! Whether you take part in Dry January – or abstain from the abstinence campaign – we wish you all a very happy, healthy 2023!