If you’re keen on social trends and fads, then you’ve likely heard of “Dry January” — Or some may also call it “Sober January” (or some other random variation of that).
If you haven’t heard of it, well, it’s a trend that has caught on and gone mainstream where you essentially give up alcohol for the entire month of January.
It’s kind of like a version of lent except it takes place at the start of the new year starts (which is likely why it became a “thing” in the first place, New Year’s resolutions and all) — That, and the fact that people have probably began drinking more and more uncontrollably over the course of the past few decades.
Needless to say, I too have jumped on the Dry January bandwagon. However, this is not my first time doing it.
I am no stranger to Dry January. In fact, I’ve actually done it for a few years now.
I was first introduced to Dry January in 2013 when I was on a work trip. One of my co-workers was doing Dry January and I had no idea that he was doing it nor did I know what it even was at the time — And this is probably going to sound terrible, but when he initially explained it to me, I laughed at the idea of it.
I gave him a bit of a hard time and even tried to peer pressure him into drinking a little bit. Of course, he didn’t cave and I was pretty impressed. And afterwards, I felt like a complete asshole for being so close-minded.
I was later intrigued by the idea to try it and decided to take a stab at Dry January the following year.
To my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. It was like a breath of fresh air and honestly, it was a lot less difficult than I anticipated it would be — And this is coming from an, at the time, 23-year-old who spent my weekdays at work happy hours and weekends day-drinking all throughout brunch.
So, flash-forward to present day where I have now completed my third (or maybe fourth) year of Dry January — I actually can’t remember to be honest.
And what I have learned is that it actually does help and it does make a difference in your overall well- being.
Here are some reasons why it worked for me.
It presses your internal reset button.
Life is all about balance. Everyone needs a little bit of a break from something that they do too much of once in a while — And that could be anything from television, to social media, to sugar, to caffeine, to fast food, the list goes on.
Sometimes, taking a break is what you need to get back into your groove and also help you crave those tiny addictions a little less.
It also puts things into perspective and shows you how much self-control you truly are capable of. For me, it made me realize that you don’t need to drink in order to have fun — That’s one thing that I really relied on alcohol for; being at a party or restaurant and feeling like I need to have a drink in my hand.
It has a huge (positive) effect on other daily habits.
In an article I recently wrote, I mention that I’ve been reading Charles Duhiggs’ book, “The Power Of Habit” and the main thing he emphasizes is how much one slight change of habit can create a ripple effect on many of your other other habits.
For me, cutting out alcohol helped me in a number of ways including sleeping earlier (and more soundly), waking up earlier, going to the gym before work, and eating much healthier. It also helped me get back into running after a long-extended break from my marathon in October.
It helps you save money…a lot of money.
And this mostly applies if you’re a frequent casual drinker, meaning that you don’t necessarily drink a lot in one sitting, but rather that you drink often throughout the span of a week.
It might also be more noticeable of an impact if you live in or near a big city, where a majority of your outside-of-work activities involve grabbing a drink with your friends, co-workers, or significant other.
The main thing That I always noticed during my Dry Januarys is how much less money I spend when I go out. It hasn’t necessarily had a huge impact on whether or not I do go out, but it has had a huge impact on the check.
For example, going out to dinner without ordering drinks is monumentally cheaper than going out to dinner and having a few glasses of wine.
If you’re wondering what sparked my interest in participating in Dry January, my whole motive was mostly that because it helped me with getting into marathon mentality.
At the end of December, after the holidays have come and gone, it helped me reboot my focus for the new year when I cut out alcohol and it’s now become somewhat of a mini-tradition where if I’m running a marathon that year, then I’ll kick start the year by leaving alcohol out of the picture for the first month of the new year.
Of course, we all have our excuses and not everyone is keen on the idea of trying it. And if you don’t necessarily drink that much to begin with, this probably won’t even really matter to you — But, based on my experience, it really does help.
So, as lame and trendy as it sounds, I’d encourage you to give it a try if you find yourself kicking back a few too many drinks throughout the year. Or if it’s not alcohol, then try it with something else.
After all, one small change can go a long way.