If your email inbox has recently been flooded with advice to try having a “Dry January,” you might find yourself wondering…Whose idea was this? Why would one participate? Isn’t it a bit extreme?
At Amaze, we focus on finding individual health solutions and forming sustainable habits, and a review of relevant research shows that a “Damp Winter,” where you make a plan to drink less for three months, might be easier to manage and have better long-term health results than a “Dry January.”
The idea of an alcohol-free January was put forth by the Finnish government during Finland’s war against the Soviet Union. But the “Dry January” challenge was broadly introduced by Alcohol Change UK 10 years ago. The idea was to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.”
Studies show that some people who participate in “Dry January” experience lasting benefits. One study found that many people who took part in “Dry January” were still drinking considerably less the following August. Others, especially those who are historically heavy drinkers, suffer a rebound effect in February.
For most moderate drinkers, the idea of eliminating alcohol completely is daunting. And, when it comes to lasting habit change and long-term health benefits, three months of drinking less can make a huge difference.
Why Not Try a “Damp Winter”?
Instead of relying on willpower to avoid alcohol for 30 days, why not decide to opt out on weekdays, or limit yourself to a certain number of drinks per week for the first quarter of 2023. Maybe you eliminate harder spirits in favor of beer or wine. You set the goal that makes sense for you. You’ll gain the long-term benefits of reduced alcohol consumption and will be more likely to form a sustainable habit.
5 Best Practices for a “Damp Winter”
1. Set a mindful goal
Set some boundaries for yourself that you can follow, such as not drinking on weekdays or cutting your weekly alcohol consumption in half. This way, you’ll be much more likely to form a new habit you can sustain throughout the year.
2. Track how much money you save.
Leverage the financial gain of drinking less by keeping track of how much money you save and spending that money on something that promotes a healthy habit.
3. Find an accountability partner.
You are more likely to succeed at any challenge with social support and accountability. Studies show that you are 95% more likely to reach a goal that you share with others and social support helps because it gives you a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself.
4. Discover a new “virgin” drink.
Swap your go-to alcoholic beverage for a non-alcoholic version, such as sparkling water with lemon or a splash of juice, kombucha, or non-alcoholic beer. Having a non-alcoholic go-to will make it easier to join social situations where others are drinking and will decrease mindless consumption of alcohol.
5. Seek out replacement activities
Instead of meeting your friend at a bar after work, suggest going to a movie, taking a long walk, or having dinner at a restaurant instead.
If you think Amaze might be able to help, chances are we can. So, please reach out! Connect with a medical provider through your Amaze account or call (720) 577-5251.
Here’s to a healthier winter!