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Navigating Dry January

Dry January has been taking on quite a bit of momentum in the last few years.  This practice of abstaining from alcohol for the month of January can be a great way to reset after all the indulgences of the previous month.  Some people take it on as a way to commit to starting the new year with a focus on health and wellness.  Others take it on as a personal challenge.  But everyone seems to find it to be a beneficial and rewarding experience.  So, let’s look at why it’s gained such popularity.


There is no doubt that people experience benefits from a month without alcohol.  Those benefits are both physical and mental and leave people feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.  Let’s look at some of those benefits:

  • Better Sleep: We all know that alcohol can impair our ability to get quality, deep sleep. So, abstaining from alcohol leads to better sleep night after night, reducing daytime fatigue and leaving people feeling more focused and energized.
  • Weight Loss: For a lot of us, cutting our alcohol for a month means cutting out a lot of calories for that month! This can lead to some expected and pleasantly surprising weight loss.
  • More Energy: Alcohol can cause sluggishness and fatigue (especially the next day!) so cutting our alcohol can lead to more sustained energy throughout the day.
  • Improved Liver Function: The liver is the organ that’s most involved in alcohol processing. By abstaining from alcohol, you give your liver a break that often results in improving it’s ability to do other things for your body, like break down and remove toxins.
  • Better Mental Health: Alcohol is a depressant and is know to exacerbate mental health symptoms. Reducing alcohol intake or abstaining for a whole month can improve overall mode and our mental health in general.

So clearly there are a lot of great reasons to try Dry January.  But still some people are intimidated by the idea and feel a little overwhelmed by taking it on.  So here are some strategies to help make it a little easier!


Planning is often the key to success and it is no different here.  Decide what you need to help get you through the month.  Decide on strategies to make situations easier.  You might want to tell people ahead of time or stock up on non-alcoholic drinks to bring the social events.  Look at your calendar for the month and decide how you can plan to set yourself up for success.


We always do better with cheerleaders!  Seek the help and support of your friends and family.  Let them know what you are trying to do and that you may find it difficult and that you want their help in the process.  Their support can be a powerful tool and can also provide some accountability.


Even for veterans of Dry January, the month can still bring challenges.  It’s helpful to expect them so they don’t sneak up on you.  You may experience cravings or social pressure.  Remind yourself that this is normal and plan some strategies in case these situations arise.


At the end of the month, make sure to take some time to celebrate your accomplishment and pay attention to the benefits you’ve experienced over the past month.  This can help you commit to healthy changes throughout the year as well as increase the likelihood of committing to Dry January again next year!

So, Dry January doesn’t have to be a painful or difficulty experience.  In fact, it can be quite the opposite, full of energy, positivity and renewed focus.  Go in with a plan to set yourself up for success and experience all of the wonderful benefits!

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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