Maybe it was the New Year's Day hangover. Or the seven pounds you gained from wine in December. Perhaps you just like a challenge. Whatever the reason, if you've decided to do a "dry January" and keep from drinking alcohol throughout the month, you certainly aren't alone.
In the U.K., Alcohol Concern has set up a challenge directed at anyone willing to go without drinking for 31 days, and is encouraging participants to raise money, Movember-style, for those harmed by alcohol. Similarly, Dryathlon is raising funds for cancer through those who plan to abstain for the month.
But quitting booze isn't just for our British cousins. Many individual Canadians have decided that January 2014 will be a sober month for them as well, using New Year's resolutions as a jumping off point. Of course, alcohol dependence is a serious issue for many, and if you are concerned about your usage, be sure to speak with your doctor about an extensive treatment plan.
For those who are looking to take a break from alcohol, whether temporary or permanent, here are 10 ways to help you through the month. Have more suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.
Get Reacquainted With Fizzy Water — And Other Liquids
If you aren't the type to dive into a juice cleanse (and really, why would you?), there are plenty of other options that don't include booze. We've pulled together a drink list for every situation for some fun alternatives.
Find Out What Else You Like To Do
If most of your nighttime outings recently have only included bars, bar shots and pints, perhaps this is a good time to start discovering new passions and hobbies. It needn't only be tame activities like book clubs and movies — you could take this opportunity to try out rock climbing or a dance class.
Make Friends With Non-Drinkers
It's obviously much easier to keep yourself from drinking if you don't put yourself near booze in the first place, so at least for these four weeks, find a crew who won't be guzzling any beers. Better yet, see if your usual drinking buddies want in on Dry January with you, because the moral support will help.
Know You're Actually Helping Your Body
In a small study conducted by New Scientist, those who abstained from alcohol saw a decrease in liver fat (a precursor to liver disesase), a drop in blood glucose levels and a better quality of sleep — after only five weeks.
Do Something Productive With Those Hours You Would Have Been Hungover
Here's the thing about nights without booze: they mean mornings that feel so much better. If you wake up earlier, use that time to organize your messy bedroom or go exercise. If you sleep late, just enjoy the fact that it's of a better quality than a drunken snooze.
Take A Weekend Road Trip
Hitting the open road is definitely one of those things you can't do while drinking, and January is a particularly quiet (read: cheap) time to travel. Map out a quickie vacation that will not only bring you to new spots nearby, but will also ensure you don't spend that weekend avoiding bars.
Go To Things That Start Earlier
Have you always rolled your eyes at parties that began at 7 p.m. because it meant a far too long night of drinking? This month, take advantage of early bird friends who like their get-togethers to start right after work, then head home at the time you would usually have been heading out.
Spend Time With The Kids In Your Life
It might be a niece or nephew, or a buddy's newborn, but there are likely some children in your life you aren't spending much time with on a regular basis. Spend some of your Dry January hanging out with them — as a bonus, it will gain a whole lot of appreciation from your friends/family.
Appreciate Your Less Puffy Face
This may be one of those benefits of not drinking you've heard of, but didn't really believe until you saw the results yourself. But it's a fact — alcohol dehydrates you, causing your blood vessels to engorge and leading to facial puffiness, according to Livestrong. This could therefore be the month to take that new profile picture, don't you think?
Treat Yourself To Something Seriously Amazing
Most people do best when they know there's a prize at the end — figure out a way to reward yourself for the effort you've made in not drinking for a month. Whether that means going out for an extravagant meal (though less costly without the alcohol bill) or buying new clothes or gadgets, you've probably saved some cash while not drinking, so why not spend it on yourself?