When it comes to Dry January, you could pretty much say my entire year consists of a Dry January. Yes, that’s right folks. I only had three glasses of wine in total in 2019. (Pause for reaction)
Okay, now that your jaws are up off the floor, let’s proceed. To be honest, I still get odd looks from my doctor every year when I go in for my annual exam. When asked the question, “How often do you consume alcohol. I usually respond with, “Once a quarter…maybe…if that.” I swear it’s as if I have three heads.
My journey to living a mostly alcohol free life started way back when I was super in to Whole30. Although I’m no longer as hard-core with Whole30s, I have discovered how good my body feels when I don’t drink.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a glass of red wine every now and then. But more often than not, I’ll stick to my water on the rocks.
I’m not the only one either. I spoke with five women who shared the benefits of Dry January, plus how to manage your sober social life. Here’s what I found.
Benefits of Dry January
There are a multitude of benefits to Dry January. Kim Holstein, co-founder of Twisted Alchemy shares some research. “During Dry January of 2018, Forbes reported that 88 percent of participants saved money, 71 percent slept better and 58 percent lost weight. Research also shows, ‘a month off alcohol lowers blood pressure, reduces diabetes risk, lowers cholesterol, and reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.’ It’s clear Dry January is beneficial to health, but it also benefits your overall mood.”
Nimbe Juarez, analyst and aSweatLife ambassador, participated in Dry January last year. She says, “It was great to wake up on weekends and get to an early workout because I didn’t feel tired, fuzzy or dehydrated from the night before.”
Jess Palo, User Experience Designer and aSweatLife ambassador, adds, “I think the biggest benefit for me is just authentically realigning and coming back to homeostasis. January is mostly a quiet month so it’s such a great opportunity for self care in various forms.”
Participating in Dry January has benefits physically, mentally and emotionally, but also financially. Katie Tomaszewski, founder of Deep Line Health, says, “When I am dry, I have way more money. I make big steps in my business, I accomplish more at home. My relationships are stronger, I have mental sharpness and clarity. I feel more rested and at peace, my skin looks better, I am more fit. Literally every aspect of my life becomes easier and better.” Amen to that!
Managing your social life during Dry January
It’s clear there are tons of benefits to Dry January, but the social aspect stops a lot of people from participating. However, in my interviews, all five women offered amazing ideas on how to stay social during Dry January. Here’s what they had to say:
Palo says, “This year I’m doing [Dry January] with a group of friends. To keep us motivated and accountable we are doing one event each weekend. Activities we are exploring include: arts and crafts, cooking classes, dance classes and meditation.”
Kensli Diggs, Corporate Gifts & Events Manager says, “Instead of going out or drinking I really like to do more family friendly activities, including going to the movies, spending time at the zoo and visiting Navy Pier.”
Tomaszewski offers some fantastic ideas from her own Dry January experience as well. “You have got to take the reins in making plans with your friends. If you have to go to a bar, choose one with entertainment. Look for open mics with stand-up comedy, music, storytelling, or performance art. At the very least make sure there’s a pool table or arcade game so you have something to do.”
She goes on to note:
“It’s important to point out that a social life does not just mean parties and bars, being social simply means having meaningful interactions with other people.”
“What if you socialized in a way that felt enriching instead? You’ll be saving a ton of money by removing alcohol, so plunk down those extra dollars to try something outside of the box. Try rock climbing, learning a musical instrument, taking Pilates lessons, Tai Chi or a cooking class.”
Tomaszewski also offers another brilliant idea. “Consider flipping your schedule during sober times. If you fill your Saturday with chores, you’ll be craving nighttime socializing and those times are trickier to avoid alcohol. Schedule a class or something nice for yourself first thing in the morning and make plans to see family or friends earlier in the day as well. By the time dinner rolls around, your socializing ‘bucket’ will feel full and you’ll be more ready to head back home and relax for the evening.”
Join the Dry January movement
Going dry for the month of January doesn’t mean you have put your social life on pause for 30 days. Instead, it begs you to get creative with your time.
Tomaszewski summarizes it best.
“A sober break can be an opportunity to get introspective and figure out what you’re really passionate about.”
“If your free time is typically spent socializing with alcohol, you might not be sure of what it is that you like to do outside of that. One way to figure that all out is to start doing things outside of your comfort zone. Exposing yourself to unusual experiences will awaken your spirit and you’ll start to feel more clear about what lights you up.”
Let’s raise our mocktails and cheers to that!