Say Cheers to a Dry New Year
Start the New Year off booze-free with the Dry January challenge
Another holiday season has drawn to a close. Family and friends have gone home, the last of the leftovers linger in the fridge, and most of us have had our fair share (or more) of eggnog and champagne.
Maybe a detox from all that excessive merriment is in order?
Among the many options for a New Year’s reset is Dry January, a month-long challenge to break your booze habit. And, like many things that gains popularity, Dry January has its share of haters. But if you keep it light (and keep it mostly to yourself!), you’ll find the days fly by and the health benefits roll in.
We’re highlighting Dry January’s benefits, gathering helpful tips and sharing a delicious mocktail recipe to help you make the most of a booze-less start to the New Year. If you choose. No pressure …
How It Started
Dry January isn’t new. The term “Drynuary” dates back to 2006 when writer John Ore coined the term to describe his own attempt at a month with no alcohol. Decades before that, Finland is said to have created a “Sober January” during a WWII campaign.
But the Dry January challenge that we’re most familiar with hit the mainstream in 2013 as an initiative by Alcohol Change UK. The British charity wanted to help citizens create a healthier relationship with alcohol and encouraged everyone to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.”
With the help of social media, the Dry January challenge—also known as Dryuary, Drynuary and Janopause—gained popularity worldwide with over four million people taking part in 2020. And now with a new “sober-curious” movement happening, Dry January is a perfect opportunity to experiment with sober living, create a healthier relationship with drinking, or just save money.
From better sleep and brighter skin to a fuller wallet and stronger self-discipline—the benefits are significant and worth considering as part of your New Year/new you plan.
Better Sleep. The morning after a night of drinking can be rough, and it’s even worse if you’re not getting enough sleep. While drinking alcohol before bed can help you fall asleep faster, it also reduces Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which leads to daytime drowsiness, poor concentration and an overall sluggish feeling.
This January swap your regular nightcap for a warm cup of chamomile tea and wake up the next morning feeling rested, energized and ready to tackle the rest of your New Year’s resolutions.
Better Skin. Alcohol affects your skin in more ways than overly washed out skin or puffy eyes after a night out. Since alcohol is known to dehydrate the skin, a couple of glasses of wine each night can end up depriving your skin of necessary moisture and nutrients and increasing the appearance of wrinkles, dryness and sagging skin. Not a pretty sight!
Just 31 alcohol-free days are enough to start noticing positive changes in your complexion including brightness, smoothness and overall radiance—especially if you’re replacing your drink of choice with something healthier and more hydrating.
Better Health. Drinking alcohol raises your risk of weight gain and obesity. Not only are cocktails, beer and wine high inempty calories and sugar, but that familiar buzzed feeling encourages extra eating due to heightened senses. Men typically eat over 400 extra calories when they drink, and for women it’s 300.
Cutting alcohol out of your diet for a month, and not replacing it with other high calorie drinks or foods will help you lose weight and loosen up your post-holiday pants.
Better Budgets. Take a second to think about all the money you spend on alcohol. From weekly bottles of wine to $10 cocktails at bars, it all adds up fast. Plus, you typically have to shell out more cash Ubering to the bar and back.
Keep a tally of how much money you usually spend on alcohol-related expenses. At the end of January use the savings to treat yourself to that new sweater you’ve been eyeing up or a spa day with friends.
Better Relationship. It’s common to reach for a glass of wine or beer when you’re nervous in a social setting or after a tough day at the office. But relying too much on alcohol to reduce stress can lead to dependency.
Skipping your evening drink for a month might give you more clarity into the big question of “Why am I drinking?” It may also give you a chance to find other coping strategies. Once the month is over, your relationship with drinking may be more fun indulgence than mental escape. Or maybe you’ll find you don’t need a drink at all.
Tips and Tricks
Don’t go into the Dry January challenge without a plan. Here are some ideas to help set yourself up for success.
Create a New Routine. If after-work Happy Hours or weekend boozy brunches are a big part of your regular routine, you might have a rocky start to the month. If continuing with your usual plans makes drinking too tempting, suggest a movie night with friends or sign up for a new workout class after work.
Find a Buddy. Use the buddy system and recruit a friend to join the Dry January challenge with you. You’ll find it relieves the social pressure and stress of not drinking if you’ve got someone in your corner. And you won’t have to worry about annoying your friends with all the Dry January talk if you can confide in another person going through the same thing.
Find a Substitute. For nights when you’re out with friends but don’t want to feel left out, consider a non-alcoholic substitute. Luckily, non-alcoholic drinks are currently a hot ticket with everything from gin and tequila alternatives to alcohol-free pinot noir and craft beer. Or keep it simple with flavored seltzers and kombucha.
Have an Excuse. Even if you’re not drinking, you’ll still want to go out and have fun with your friends. To stay low-key about your sober month and avoid any pressure, have a handy excuse. Schedule an early morning workout class or consider being the designated driver for your friends. That way you’ll stay sober, healthy and help your friends get home safely.
And the most important tip of all … don’t force your Dry January plan on anyone else. Keep it your secret goal and personal accomplishment, especially when out and about with friends and family. Just like you won’t want to be pressured into drinking, no one wants to be shamed for enjoying their drinks. Think about that newly vegan friend who’s ruining your brunch.
After all, it’s about having fun and trying something new. Cheers to Dry January!
Mix Up a Mocktail
The mocktail game is stronger than ever. From the childhood classic Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers to the refreshing Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade) and Gunner (ginger ale, ginger beer, lime juice, bitters)—there’s plenty to choose from. Plus, most bars are happy to make a virgin version of whatever your typical go-to drinks is.
Want to try a mocktail at home? Here’s a tasty twist on a classic recipe, courtesy of White Dog Café in Wayne.
- 2 oz. iced tea
- 2 oz. lemonade
- 1 oz. chai concentrate
- ¼ oz. agave simple syrup
- 1 dash saline solution
- Orange wedge, for garnish
Combine the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well.
Strain into a mason jar and garnish with an orange wedge.
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