2024 is officially here, and as the New Year comes in, so do the many January challenges. The most popular and prominent challenge that everyone does in the first month of the year is Dry January – so get ready to hear about it from your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues for the next 31 days!
If you’re new to the concept of Dry January, it’s a campaign started by Alcohol Change UK in 2013, where participants abstain from drinking alcohol for the full month. After a boozy Christmas season, Dry January is a welcome challenge to many. While it might seem simple to some to cut out alcohol for a few weeks, it can be difficult for those who are used to having a glass (or a bottle!) of wine on the weekend.
I did Dry January last year and I’m doing it again this year. 2023 was my first year of trying the challenge and some weeks I found it insanely easy and others… not so much. To help you (and myself) stick to Dry January, and make it a (dare I say!) enjoyable experience, here are 5 things I wish I’d known before doing Dry January.
1. Temptation is hard at the start but gets easier as the weeks go on
Let’s face it, the first day of Dry January is probably clouded by a hangover from New Years so you might not find it too hard to say no to a drink the first week of January! But once that feeling has subsided, your first work week of the year is done and you’re drawing close to the weekend, you’re going to start feeling the tug of temptation.
If you’re used to having a drink on a Friday night, you’ll likely find it hard to not have a drink in your hand. This, coupled with the fact that you’ve just had an alcohol-heavy Christmas period, will feel a little uncomfortable, and this is typically when most people will give up on the challenge. The first week is hard but the temptation gets easier to ignore – trust me! Once you’ve powered through the first few days, you’ll find it easier to not drink for the rest of the month.
2. Having alcohol in your house is not the best idea
Temptation is everywhere but having alcohol in your house is just setting yourself up for failure. If you have a bottle of wine or a case of beer in the fridge that’s easy to access you’re more likely to grab a glass and start to pour. Instead, try to clear your house of alcohol or put your drinks collection where it’s hard to reach or difficult to get to, so you’re less likely to cheat. This is what I did last year and it’s what I’m going to do again this year, as it completely cut out any temptation and it also helped me save money throughout January.
3. Some alcohol-free drinks are superior than others
My fiancé and I did Dry Jan together last year and he loved the alcohol-free beers that were on offer. The alcohol-free versions of Brewdog and Guinness were his favourites, as they didn’t taste too different from the alcoholic versions and are widely accessible in pubs and supermarkets. But for me, I only drink red wine so I was excited to try an alcohol-free of my favourite alcoholic beverage… and I wish I hadn’t bothered! It didn’t taste good at all, and while there are good alcohol-free drinks out there, I preferred to treat myself to a fizzy drink like Shloer or Appletiser as they tasted better. This is what I’ll be doing again this year, but there are plenty of different options available for you to try, like these 9 alcohol-free drinks for Dry January.
4. Your brain and body will thank you
There are many things that happen to your body when you give up alcohol. Last year, I did Dry January while also running every day, and I found my body felt fitter and stronger than it had been for a while. I also found that I could fall asleep easier and quicker, and that I lost a bit of weight. I think this is why people try Dry January as it’s extremely healing and beneficial to both your physical and mental health, and it’s one of the main reasons why I’m looking forward to doing it again this year.
5. You might not want that first drink back…
Last year, I was honestly so proud of myself for doing Dry January that when February rolled around and I could drink again, I didn’t really feel like it. And I didn’t… for an extra couple days and then it was Saturday and I went to the pub! Doing Dry January definitely taught me that just because I could have a drink, it didn’t mean that I needed to or wanted to, so it made me more conscious of my drinking habits.
Fancy another challenge? Here are 7 January challenges you should try in 2024.