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Does Dry January Actually Benefit Your Health?

dry January health benefits

We’re sure you have a lot of questions you want answered before you make the momentous decision to prevent another drop of alcohol from touching your lips for the next month!

Does it help with weight loss? Will it boost skin health? Is it any good for reducing anxiety? Can it influence healthy drinking habits? Is Dry January actually worth doing or shall I not bother with it in 2022?

Whatever your question, we’ve got the answer. Here’s everything you need to know about Dry January and the truth about its supposed health benefits!

What is the purpose of Dry January?

Organised by Alcohol Change UK, the Dry January campaign hopes to open discussion about alcohol consumption and drinking habits, whilst inspiring positive behavioural change during a fun and enjoyable month-long challenge. Many individuals also choose to participate in Dry January for more personal health reasons, such as to reduce stress, support weight loss, and improve their relationship with alcohol.

Can you lose weight doing Dry January?

Alcohol contains approximately the same amount of calories as pure fat! And unfortunately, whilst we may benefit from a few minerals and vitamins contained in a glass of red wine, the calories from alcohol are known as “empty calories”. That’s because they have no nutritional value. Alcohol even prevents our bodies from burning fat properly for energy, so cutting out the booze for Dry January can certainly help you lose weight, providing you are eating at a deficit of course.

healthy woman drinking alcohol free for dry january

Does skin improve after quitting drinking?

Since alcohol is a diuretic, it’s effective at dehydrating bodies, which can take its toll on the skin. If you’ve ever woken up the night after the night before and felt how dry your face is, then you’ll know what we’re talking about. A few weeks off alcohol due to Dry January can lead to softer, plumper and more hydrated skin, relieving facial redness and reducing the size of facial pores.

How long does it take for anxiety to go away after quitting alcohol?

Well, if we’re talking about hangxiety, pretty much immediately! Many of the consequences of drinking alcohol (e.g. dehydration, brain chemical imbalance, lack of sleep, social anxiety, etc.) can lead to what is known as hangxiety (hangover anxiety). By participating in Dry January, you can eliminate this form of anxiety immediately.

However, the relationship between alcohol and anxiety is complex. Alcohol is commonly used as a coping mechanism. For example, alcohol can temporarily alleviate anxiety symptoms and increase confidence, helping people to feel more relaxed in social situations. This means that Dry January may initially have the opposite of the desired effect for some individuals. Nevertheless, it can help to reveal underlying issues and to support the development of more healthy and sustainable coping mechanisms in the long term.

For more information, we recommend checking out Healthline’s article on Alcohol and Anxiety.

people drinking alcohol free for dry january

Can Dry January influence healthy drinking habits?

Whilst some suggest that Dry January can lead to a rebound effect, increasing binge drinking in future months, research studies tend to suggest otherwise. In fact, Dry January can influence healthier drinking habits. De Visser’s 2019 survey compared Dry January participants with a control group from the general population and revealed that the former group saw better improvements in their AUDIT scores, wellbeing, and Drink Refusal Self-Efficacy.

A study conducted by Sussex University found similar results, with Dry January participants reporting a reduction in alcohol consumption and regained control of their drinking habits.

Is Dry January worth doing?

According to multiple studies, the evidence suggests that Dry January is an effective intervention for creating medium to long-term behavioural change, particularly among heavy drinkers. And, as you can see from the research we have shared above, Dry January certainly has short-term health benefits including weight loss, better skin health, and the elimination of hangxiety. Nonetheless, whether or not Dry January is worth doing is entirely up to you and your circumstances.

Whatever you decide, Alcohol Change UK are here to support you.

Download their free Try Dry app today to help you track your time off drinking and don’t forget to check out our Ultimate Guide to Trying Alcohol-Free!

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