Twelve days down, 19 to go!
We're midway through January, and if you've decided to dry out after the holidays, you're not alone. Out of 2,000 people we surveyed, 33% are giving Dry January a go, with millennials (people aged 26-41) being the most likely to try it followed by Gen Z (aged 21-25), according to a survey for PEOPLE conducted by OnePoll.
Respondents said they chose to take a booze break to improve mood, sleep quality and energy, with about half admitting they worry about drinking too much. Studies show that the pandemic has led people to cope by drinking heavily, so Dry January couldn't have come any sooner.
There's still a couple weeks to go, so here's some motivation from our experts to encourage you.
You're Doing This for Your Health
A break from alcohol is good for your health — that's not a myth.
Taking just a month off has "multiple physiologic benefits, from sleeping better to having reduced cholesterol and lower glucose levels, lower blood pressure, weight loss and loss of fat from the liver," says Dr. Jamile Wakim-Fleming, director of the Fatty Liver Disease Program at the Cleveland Clinic.
"Alcohol is associated with inflammation throughout the body and is shown to cause ill effect on multiple organs," she tells PEOPLE. "Those who drink too much alcohol may show subtle signs as in poor concentration, worsening memory, poor sleep, inability to perform tasks they used to perform well in the past — and blame this on older age."
Further, she says regular heavy drinking may damage the heart, cause heart attacks, irregular heart beats and raise blood pressure. And "alcohol can damage the gastrointestinal system causing irritation in the stomach or gastritis, pancreatitis and cancers throughout the GI tract. Cirrhosis of the liver indicates a prolonged intake of alcohol and this predisposes people to liver cancer."
Wakim-Fleming adds that any break from alcohol is a good thing, and taking breaks more often or for longer intervals improves health even more. "Imagine if dry January is repeated a few times a year — the reaped benefits will be tremendous. Also, studies have shown that dry January has led to less drinking throughout the year."
Try These 5 Tips Before You Quit on Quitting
Amanda Kuda, a health coach who focuses on helping clients create an alcohol-free lifestyle, has identified common potholes that can launch you off the wagon. Trying one or all of these tips may help you to keep moving forward.
Create new rituals — "Avoid habit-based cravings by shifting your typical routines for the month. Instead of your regular happy hour spot, take the opportunity to try out a new restaurant or cafe," she tells PEOPLE. "If you're one for an evening nightcap at home, purchase a luxury looseleaf tea sampler and create a tea ritual instead."
Avoid the buddy system … unless you can really trust your buddy — "If you're relying on a buddy for moral support, be sure you choose a buddy that is a goal-getter, otherwise, you'll be at the mercy of their willpower. In other words, if your buddy gives in, they're likely to try to take you with them so that they're not alone when falling off the wagon."
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Find an online network or coaching program — "Instead of relying on a close buddy, try finding an online network of like-minded people also committed to taking the month off of booze. There is less at stake in group accountability programs and you're likely to gain new perspectives or learn something new. Instagram and Facebook are great places to start searching."
Read Quit Lit — "Quit Lit is an emerging self-help genre where experts are sharing a new perspective on drinking. If you'd like to arm yourself with extra knowledge for Dry January and beyond, grab a copy of Chrissy Teigen's fave, Quit Like A Woman."
Set Aside Time To Reflect — "It can be tempting to go back to 'life as usual' when Feb. 1 hits. If you want to make the most out of a period of abstinence, set aside some time to reflect on the challenges and triumphs of the month without alcohol. Ask questions like, What was easy about this time? What was challenging? What did I learn about myself?"
If None of That Works, Try Dry-ISH January
"If someone chooses to drink, having alcohol in moderation can be part of a healthy lifestyle," she says. "Moderation means, on days you do drink, women should have no more than one drink and men have no more than two drinks. And one drink equals 12 ounces of beer that's 5% alcohol, 8 ounces of beer that's 7% alcohol, 5 ounces of wine that's 12% alcohol, or 1.5 ounces hard alcohol that's 80 proof. And no, you can't add these up for a weekend of binge drinking."
For people who are drinking more than a moderate amount, "testing a Dry or Dry-ISH January makes sense as a good place to start making changes," she says. "Especially since the potential improved sleep and energy can lead to making other healthy lifestyle changes, like having more energy to exercise and eat right. It can create healthy momentum."
Blatner also points to the emotional health of taking a hiatus from alcohol. The break "can allow you to assess why and how you are using alcohol. And what parts of drinking are working for you or against you. Also, without alcohol's emotional dampening, it gives you the chance to experiment with other, healthier coping tools for emotions such as loneliness, boredom and stress."
For more Dry January tips, check out our guide to a Healthy Reset for Mind and Body in the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.