Dry January is over, but experts tell Moneyish how you can drink less and feel great about it
Drink less, do more.
Many committed to the annual challenge of “Dry January,” a month of no alcohol to detox from binge eating and drinking during the holidays. But now that those 31 days are up, some are choosing to consume less booze.
“I have a renewed desire to drink less after doing Dry January,” Lindsay Meeks, 33, a video producer from Brooklyn tells Moneyish. “But I want to be realistic, so I would say I’m okay with drinking only three times a week, but I’ll keep it to two to three drinks only. I’m trying to reprogram how I think about my free time, which is really the key.”
Dry January was started in the UK by the British charity Alcohol Concern in 2011, and the pledge to stay sober for a full month made its way to the US soon after. It turns out those who abstained from alcohol for one month are already ahead of the curve for staying sober for the rest of the year. Researchers from the University of Suffolk in England studied more than 800 people who participated in Dry January in 2016, and found that about half of those who voluntarily stopped drinking for 30 days seemed to drink less in the next six months. And those who abstained had better liver function, better skin conditions and weight loss.
For Meeks, drinking less comes with taking on more hobbies and changing some of her social routines. Instead of going to a bar on the weekends, she now plays tennis with her wife on Friday and Saturdays. Taking time to enjoy dinners, and discovering meal kit recipes is also a great way to drink less, she says.
“I’ve been hitting up the lemonade and other fun drinks so I don’t feel like I’m missing out,” she says, of discovering particularly good mocktails at Corkbuzz, a wine bar in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
The choice to drink less for the rest of the year was an important wellness decision for Meeks.
“We’re at that age where we either evolve, or have the potential to slip into alcoholism,” she says.
Americans are drinking more than ever. Around 30 million adults binge drink — consume four or more drinks — at least once a week, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry from last year. Binge drinking is also more common among people with household incomes of $75,000 or more than people with lower incomes, the CDC reports.
What’s more, women showed a larger increase in alcoholism, according to the report. Drinking in moderation means that women should limit alcohol to one drink per day and two for men, according to U.S. Dietary Guidelines .(One drink is defined as one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits).
Of course, quitting cold turkey is easier said than done, considering about 80% of people have broken their New Year’s resolution, according to U.S. News & World Report. While some people don’t want to give up drinking entirely, there are some ways to cut back, experts say.
Here are the best tips for mindful drinking:
Have a plan
“Have a plan when you’re going into a situation or social setting where there’s alcohol,” says New York-based life coach Ana Goldstein. “Are you going to drink club soda? Are you not going to drink anything? People might say, ‘why aren’t you drinking?’ Have an answer, like ‘ I decided I’m not going to drink for this year because XYZ.”
One tip to stay committed to the goal is to make a promise to yourself and tell a friend, partner, colleague or coach you’re staying dry so they can hold you to your word. If you have someone who also wants to ease off the booze, make it a team effort.
“If you can have an accountability partner, someone who’s doing it with you or even if you make it a public accountability by writing out your goal on social media, you’ll feel obligated to follow through cause you feel like you’re not alone. You’re more likely to achieve your goals,” says Goldstein.
If you feel like you’re going to be pressured to drink at a party, Goldstein says skip it and sub in another activity.
“Don’t go at all if you feel like it’s going to be an environment where you’re not going to control yourself don’t go at all,” she says.
For those who don’t want to compromise the social aspect that comes with drinking, there are plenty of options like sober event series that feature meditations, live music, dancing and mingling with like the minded “sober curious.”
“When we have habits, the best thing we can do is create a new habit — having a replacement thing to go to is really helpful. Having different activities can help you change a pattern,” says Goldstein.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved