Making your Dry January the best it can be

December 2019 | 7 minutes

A month without alcohol is going to do wonders for your health - here we offer some hints and tips to make it a success and a fun and positive experience for 2020 and beyond!

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1. Remind yourself of your motivations

Why are you doing this? Make a list of all the things you hope to gain. 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 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 on track. 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. Make a plan for situations where alcohol is on offer

You’re probably going to be invited to something at a pub, restaurant, bar or somewhere else with alcohol at some point in January, so you need to be prepared. Deciding beforehand what you’re going to do in those situations will really help you when the time comes. Whether it’s sticking to alcohol-free alternatives (that still look like the real deal – if your local doesn’t stock alcohol-free beer and wine you could try a soda and lime), suggesting everyone buys their own drinks or practising saying no, make sure you have a plan at the ready!

4. Plan some fun activities

If you think a month without alcohol is going to be dull, think again! It might not be easy but planning some exciting things will make it a whole lot better. Meet up with friends, go to the cinema, have a Netflix binge, 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.

5. 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 difficult not to drink? That way, if the same situation comes 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.

6. Ask for help if you need it

You might find that Dry January is harder than you thought. Don’t give up 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, the Dry January Community on Facebook could be the thing for you.

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.