How to make the most of your Dry January

December 2018 | 8 minutes

31 days without alcohol is going to do some amazing things for your body, and will likely help you cut down going forward too – but by doing just a little work you can have an even better month, and set yourself up for Dry January making a real, positive impact on your 2019 and beyond.

1. Remind yourself of your motivations

Why are you doing this? Make a list of all the things you hope to gain. All of them. Then rank them in order of importance - give them a score out of 10. Take a look at your list and focus on how you'll achieve all these wonderful things. Yes, you'll probably lose a bit of weight and save a bit of cash but what has really inspired you to take this journey? How will you feel when you succeed? Put it all down on paper and stick it somewhere visible as a reminder throughout the month. This will help you take your Dry January seriously, and keep going if ever things get tough.

2. Tell people

It can be tempting to keep your Dry January to yourself, especially if you're worried you won't make it through the month but telling others is a good way to keep you accountable. Post your intention on social media. If you're going out, let your friends know in advance that you won't be drinking. You'll find that lots of others are doing it too so you'll have a ready-made support group.

3. Track your progress

You can use Try Dry: the Dry January app, to track your drink-free days. If you put in how much you’d be drinking over the average month, it will tell you how many calories and how much money you’ve saved by not drinking!

It might also be a good idea to keep a diary so you can record what's new, what's different, what's better every day. You can look back at previous entries and see just how far you've come. Making time each day, even just a couple of minutes to remind yourself of your Dry January journey will really help you to see it through to the end. Why not blog about your Dry January experiences? This might be something to inspire your colleagues or family or just to keep you thinking about your Dry January adventure.

4. Reflect

Following on from the tracking of your physical changes and money saved, it’s worth digging a bit deeper. Try to make some time – whether daily or weekly – to think about how you’re feeling in your head as well as body. What are you missing about drinking? What aren’t you missing? What’s hard? What’s a pleasure? Doing this reflecting will help you to work out what you want to do about your drinking when Dry January’s over.

For example, maybe you find that you miss having a beer when you see your friends at the weekend, but you’re finding week nights alcohol-free a doddle, and could very happily cut out your regular home-time glass of wine from February onwards. Working this stuff our during your dry month will help you to make the most of it!

5. Plan a tonne of fun

If you think a month without alcohol will be a snooze-fest, think again! It’s going to teach you a lot and it won’t always be easy, but that doesn’t mean you get to sit at home feeling sorry for yourself. Plan some things to do! Meet up with friends, go to the cinema, go to a comedy show or a gig… go anywhere you like! Not drinking will save you money as well, so if you’ve always wanted to see that band live but thought it was too expensive, why not treat yourself now?

Doing lots of fun stuff will show you that you don’t need alcohol to have fun – and that will stand you in brilliant stead going forward.

6. Pick up a new hobby

2019 has just started, and what’s even better than that is that you’ve ditched the booze for a month. What does that mean? More spare time! If there’s anything you’ve always wanted to do or learn, now is the time. Take some of that sober motivation and use it to learn the trumpet, a whole new language or get really good at tap dancing. You can even put some of your saved money towards lessons! This is a great way of making the most of your time off, and having a brilliant souvenir and reminder of all the fun you can have alcohol-free once the month is over.

7. Ask for help if you need it

You might find that Dry January is harder than you thought. Don’t sack it in and go straight back to your old habits, or battle through miserably. Instead, talk to someone. That might be your friends and family, or it might be your GP or local alcohol service. Find out more about getting support here.

If none of those appeal, it could be the Dry January Community on Facebook.

Whatever you choose, getting support doesn’t mean admitting weakness. Lots of us have a bit of a complicated relationship with alcohol, and getting some help is just an all-round good idea.

8. Be prepared for slip-ups

Being prepared for slip-ups is a good idea. Having a drink doesn’t need to be the end of the world – or even the end of your dry month. It just depends on your mindset and how you come back from it.

To avoid drinking, try working out why you drink, and what you could do instead to break the habit. When a craving strikes, have a plan for what to do.

If you do have a drink, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just think about why it happened – what made it impossible not to drink? That way, if the same situation come up again you’ll know what to do. That will help you to strengthen what we like to call your ‘drink-refusal skills’, and that will make cutting back after January if you want to a doddle.

Have you downloaded our app yet? You can use it year-round to track your drinking, savings and more! Find out more and download it here.

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