Dry January - Terry V1 12.2023

Dry January 2024 - Why try dry

Dry January can be the ideal way to give your body a break after the overindulgence of festive celebrations. Each year, thousands of people across the UK go alcohol-free and experience the benefits. Here, Terry shares his own experiences of taking part.

Christmas - for some, a time for socialising, feasting, drinking and generally letting go of all of the well-intentioned restrictions you generally keep in place for most of the year. If you’re like me, you feel not only obliged to indulge but conclude you need to jump in head first as a reward for seeing out another year.

But this mindset comes at a price - hence the annual visitation of Dry January. My partner and I are now 8/9 years into the ritual of no alcohol for 31 days - I cannot fib and say it's a doddle to close the drinks cabinet and turn your back on wine, spirits, and beer for any prolonged period of time. But I do it rather successfully every year and I hope my tips and advice can encourage you to try it too!

First and foremost, the thing that made me take the Dry January plunge was the health benefits. I doubt anyone could seriously argue against giving your liver a prolonged rest and giving yourself some focus. It encourages you to have a healthier life. And why not do it in January? For me, it's a dark month with nothing much happening, and money is in short supply – so lots of nights in with less temptation and the mindset for New Year's resolutions.

So, how do I manage my month without alcohol? For me, my main weakness has always been to see alcohol as a reward - the well-deserved treat at the end of a long working week. I also struggle with association - Italian food and a good steak can only be appreciated with a nice bottle of red wine. To counter this, I always make sure I am stocked up on treat drinks like posh tonic waters and kombucha concoctions as replacements during dinner.

I am also lucky and honestly cannot say the mid-month wobble others talk about has ever hit me. My advice is to break the month up into four parts. Week one may come naturally as you guilt trip yourself into skipping alcohol for a few days or so. Week two is a bit trickier, but there is the reward of knowing you will soon have made the halfway mark without the world changing too much. Week three finds you focusing on reaching the countdown to the end, and then before you know it, you’re looking at the finish line ahead.

It can also help to buddy up with others during the month. Set up a WhatsApp group if you know others thinking of taking part - you'll all appreciate those little messages of support along the way! Have a look at various apps, too. I’ve heard good things about NHS Drink Free Days, which is free to download.

The important thing to keep in mind is, how will you feel on February 1st?

Personally, I'm not particularly in tune with my body and don't come out at the end of the month fizzing with joy necessarily, but I take my satisfaction from knowing I set myself a goal and stuck to it. Whatever you take from Dry January, should you do it, I know it will be worth it.