13 Jan

Dry January: The benefits of an alcohol-free month

We are almost two weeks into the new year already, if you can believe it! Whilst many will already be in full swing with a resolution and a plan to attack it, some may be just starting out, ready to make the change now they’ve settled back into work and a routine. A new year is symbolic for many as a new chance to make a positive change in your life. One of the more popular challenges in recent years has been ‘Dry January’, a goal to get through the first month of the year without a single sip of alcohol.

Besides the ease your bank account will feel, the health benefits of going teetotal for a month are extensive! Studies have shown that even just a month without alcohol can massively improve your fitness, your body, and your mind. Whilst everything is fine in moderation, abstaining for a month can help give your body time to rest and recover, which can be helpful after a festive period filled with Christmas pudding and red wine! Those who started on the 1st should already be starting to feel the early benefits of Dry Jan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start now! Here are just a few of the benefits of giving up alcohol for a month.

Your body will feel better

We are all aware that too much alcohol is bad for the body, but it can take as little as two weeks to start noticing the differences to your health and wellbeing. Studies have found that stomach function and acid reflux symptoms in those who drank regularly began to clear up by the end of the second week, with many reporting less irritation and acid reflux in the throat. By the end of the month, you can expect to see lowered blood pressure, better liver function, better hydration, and clearer skin!

You’ll have higher quality sleep

Regular alcohol consumption can affect not only the length of sleep we get, but also the quality of it too. When you drink alcohol, you often fall straight into a deep sleep which means that you often miss out on the rapid eye movement phase of your sleep cycle. Sleep experts recommend six to seven REM sleep cycles a night, however when drinking you will often only get one or two. Better quality sleep means better energy levels through the day, better regulation of your emotions and better moderated hormones in the body.

Your mental health will improve

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that sustained use, even at moderate levels, can impact your mental health and state of mind. Going dry for a month can benefit your mind in a number of ways, including a stabilised mood, better memory, less brain fog and better thinking skills. Regular alcohol use can also interfere with the chemicals in your brain and the signals being sent to the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Studies have shown this can be fully reversed through abstaining.

You can lose weight!

Alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories. One bottle of wine, for example, can contain as many as 700 calories! Whilst the key to weight loss is a caloric deficit alone, consuming fewer empty calories can massively help you reduce your caloric intake without you even realising! Alcoholic drinks also offer little nutritional value and can affect your metabolism, this can consequently affect how much fat your body holds. Many have found improved body composition after quitting alcohol and lower body fat percentage.

You can find more information on the benefits of quitting alcohol and Dry January here - https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january

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