- Among the reasons to abstain from alcohol for one month, you will have the opportunity to take stock of your drinking habits and understand your relationship with alcohol. You’ll also likely save money, and experience noteworthy health benefits.
- Health benefits may include: increased energy, greater productivity, regular digestion, better sleep, clearer skin, weight loss, stronger immune system, and improved mood.
- Make your month of abstinence as easy (and temptation-free) as possible — clear your calendar, clean out the fridge, and pre-plan your meals in advance.
- Follow these tips to make it through the month: download an app to stay on track, venture out of the house to try something new, and remember why you started…
So you missed your chance to do a dry January. No worries. You can challenge yourself to go alcohol-free any month of the year, and bonus: February, being the shortest month, is one of the easiest ones to tackle. Dry February gives you a chance to observe your drinking habits and welcome greater health and balance into your life. Whether you intentionally missed the boat with #DryJanuary or are just warming up to the notion of a month of abstinence, it’s never too late to embark upon a health challenge. Still need some convincing that a month without wine is actually a good thing? Read on to learn the surprising health benefits of giving up alcohol. Plus, get some pre-planning tips and tricks to help you get through the month without falling off the wagon.
Here’s why you should go dry in February
Undeniably, your reasons to abstain from alcohol for a month are personal. However, you if you are still on the fence, consider these perks:
- It’s an opportunity to take stock of your drinking habits and better understand your relationship with alcohol – how much you drink and why. Ask yourself what you want your drinking habits to look like long-term, and keep the big picture in mind so you don’t go hog wild come March 1.
- It’s a chance to hit the reset button. If you drink more than you probably should (or even if you don’t), a dry February lets you see how your body responds to less alcohol. Chances are, you’ll feel better, sleep better, have better focus, and maybe even lose weight.
- You’ll see more of life and what it has to offer. When you can’t reach for a cocktail at the end of a long week, what other outlets will you discover?
- You’re bound to experience more meaningful connections with others when the booze is out of the equation.
- You’ll likely save money. Enough said.
Health benefits of a dry February
No matter how much you want it to be, alcohol is not good for humans, especially in large quantities. (No judgment; it makes us sad, too.) Research shows that drinking alcohol produces a harmful chemical in the body that leads to permanent genetic damage and increases the risk of cancer.
While the end results of your dry February depend somewhat upon previous drinking behavior (you’ll notice the most profound changes the more you were drinking before), here are some of the health benefits of giving up alcohol, even temporarily:
- Clearer thinking
- Increased energy
- Greater productivity
- Regular digestion (too much alcohol messes with your gut’s microbiome)
- Improved motivation to stick to good habits
- Better sleep
- Clearer skin
- Weight loss
- Greater sense of achievement
- Stronger immune system
- Less stress on the liver
- Improved mood
- More money in the piggy bank
How to ease your way into dry February
The month before going booze-free, start cutting back on alcohol to make the transition easier. Aim to cut your alcohol intake to half of your normal consumption. This will help shift your mindset and bodily response to alcohol before you go full-throttle in February.
If alcohol is your salve for a rough day, find healthier ways to cope with stress before February hits, so you don’t have to white-knuckle it. Visit yoga studios, download meditation apps, try an endorphin-boosting workout or soak in a bubble bath. See what works for you and what doesn’t.
- Mix up your alcohol outings with dancing, games, or conversation. Did someone say pool or darts?
- Slow down – give yourself an hour between drinks and switch between alcohol and water.
How to head off temptation ahead of time
A little planning can go a long way toward your success for the month. Keep these tricks of the trade in mind for February:
- Get a handle on your calendar. Ensure that you aren’t battling too much stress in February and do whatever you can to minimize excess engagements now.
- If you have plans that might lure you from your goals – rein in a sidekick who will help you stay on course through the month.
- Come up with crafty drink substitutions – mocktails, ginger beer, non-alcoholic beers, wines, herbal tea, and coffee. Did you read that last one? Coffee!
- Pre-plan your meals with thorough shopping lists for the month.
- Clean out the fridge, freezer, and cabinets of all tempting substances.
- Mentally prepare – snatch up a quote book for on-the-go inspiration. If you are the writing type, get your hands on a journal too, so that you can process the month one day at a time.
How to make it through the month – and enjoy it
Though you might be overwhelmed – even a little panicked – come February 1, you can make it through the entire month without alcohol. Here are some fresh tips to shift the pendulum toward success:
- Educate yourself further about the benefits of abstinence. It’ll go a long way to keep you motivated.
- Download an app like Sobriety Counter or Sober Grid to help you stay on track and mark your progress.
- Go for the double whammy – pair your alcohol-free month with another health goal like exercise. Every time you desire to drink, focus on your other goal as a positive distraction. Want a drink? Go for a walk. Friends doing brunch? Hit Soulcycle instead.
- Hang out with people who don’t drink or are doing a dry month as well. This is a great month to widen your social circle.
- Venture out of the house with all that new energy you have to try something new – something noteworthy you’ve always wished to try before.
- Get cultured. Ditch the bars for a sporting event, peaceful evening at home, or trip to the cinema.
- Worried about questions from onlookers? Go for soda water with lime or lemon when you’re out – it looks just like a gin and tonic.
- Remember why you started. Whatever your motivation for embarking on a dry month, remind yourself of this intention throughout the 30 (ok, 28) days to help you keep on keeping on.
Before you know it, you’ll be ringing in March 1 with a glass of champagne – or maybe a cup of relaxing kava tea. Either way, you’ll have learned something meaningful about the experience and given your body a well-deserved break from alcohol.
Eager for more inspiration? Here’s how one woman tackled 30 days of no drinking: