13 reasons to take part in Dry January

Hello 2019! New year – new challenges. January is the perfect time to introduce new habits and make small lifestyle changes that will help you to stay happier and healthier throughout the year ahead.

Lots of research suggests that ‘new year’s resolutions’ are not always the way to go. A year feels like an impenetrable time period and many people fail without the right motivation or support. Breaking things down and trying things out or fixing small goals and working your way up is a much more manageable way to achieve larger milestones.

With all this in mind, why not support your workforce to take part in Dry January? A time limited activity, with resources and support thrown in, tangible results and following right on the back of Xmas excess? It’s got to be a winner, right?

What’s it all about?

Dry January is the UK’s one-month booze-free challenge, brought to you by Alcohol for Change UK. Rather than being anti-alcohol, the charity supports alcohol change – pouring their efforts and resources into reducing the harm caused by alcohol consumption. Dry January is not about quitting drinking altogether – it’s about giving your body a break, looking at alcohol in a different way, reviewing your habits, understanding the effects and making those small lifestyle changes that could add years to your lifespan and pounds in your pocket.

Our 13 reasons to take part in Dry January (in no particular order)

1. Look Better. OK, it might seem shallow that we’ve put this one at the top, but your physical appearance is what you’re putting out to the world. Alcohol is fattening, and it can cause your stomach and face to bloat. Its dehydrating effects can play havoc with your skin and don’t even get me started on the cellulite caused by the toxins. Bloodshot eyes aren’t a great look either and do you want to smell? Do you? Most alcohol is processed through the liver but some leaves the system directly through urine, sweat and breath. Nice. The dishevelled state of someone under the influence is never a good look but at 3am in a club, you might get away with it.Hungover on the tube or in the workplace? There’s nowhere to hide. Completely busted.

2. Lose weight. Because alcohol is made from sugar or starch it contains a lot of calories – almost as much as pure fat! Those calories are also ‘empty’ calories which means that they have no nutritional value. The body is unable to store alcohol so it wants to get rid of it as soon as it can. This means that it prioritises this function above all others so burning fat for energy and absorbing nutrients takes second place. Hello beer belly.

3. Feel Better (mentally). Our brain relies on chemicals to function properly and alcohol messes with these. It depresses certain functions like inhibition which is why we might feel happier or more confident, temporarily, but as our brain’s functions continue to be disrupted our mood changes and we can get anxious, aggressive, emotional or depressed. Alcohol is linked to many mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, memory loss and suicide.

4. Feel Better (physically). Alcohol is linked with more than 60 health conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and seven types of cancer. In fact, alcohol is the biggest cause of death for people aged 15-49 in the UK. Cutting back on alcohol reduces your risk of developing these conditions.

5. Live longer. Alcohol was a factor in almost 24,000 deaths in the UK in 2017. Not drinking can’t guarantee a longer life, but you can certainly stack the odds in your favour.

6. Sleep Better. Although some people might drop off to sleep more quickly after having a drink, as the night progresses you spend less time in deep sleep and more time in the REM (rapid eye movement) stage. The disrupted sleep patterns often result in feeling tired and sluggish the next day, no matter how long you lie in. Add to that the practicalities of waking up in the night feeling dehydrated, the night sweats from all the toxins, having to get up to use the loo, bad dreams and increased snoring – and suddenly that night-cap is not looking such a great prospect for either you or your partner!

7. Have more energy. Better quality sleeps means much more energy and if your body isn’t constantly trying to rid itself of toxins, it can spend its time doing more beneficial processes like burning fat and absorbing nutrients. Brighter eyes, bushier tails… yes, please.

8. See Better. OK, so this one is a little bit misleading. We are not saying that your short-sightedness will suddenly improve, and you’ll not need your glasses, but it’s an indisputable fact that alcohol impairs your judgement. (We’ve all heard the phrase ‘beer goggles.’) We can’t guarantee that by giving up drinking you’ll make perfect decisions every time, but you’ll certainly be able to think more clearly. Goodbye ‘morning-after’ fog. Hello to a more vital view of the world.

9. Save Money. The average person spends £50,000 on booze in a lifetime. £50,000?! (I could have been rich!) Just take a moment to think about what you could spend that money on. Mortgage payments, holidays, activities, education, a massive purse. Maybe put the pint down and keep your pounds in your own pocket.

10. Personal Challenge. Just to see if you can.

11. Someone has suggested it to you If someone has suggested you take part in Dry January, it might be wise to consider why it is they’ve done so. Is it just so you feel part of a wider office initiative or do they have deeper concerns? Ask yourself whether you have been drinking a little more than usual or displaying different behaviours. The main thing is not to get offended. They probably have your best interests at heart and if you’ve not got a problem, it won’t be an issue to lay off it for a bit. And if you do, then maybe they’ve done you a gigantic favour.

12. Doing it for the kids. In the words of Robbie Williams, why not do it for the kids? Around 200,000 children in England live with an alcohol dependent parent. A shocking statistic in anyone’s book. Even if you are not alcohol dependent, imagine how much easier it will be to look after your children if you’re feeling healthier, you’ve got more energy and you’re not facing the nightmare of soft play through the fog of the morning after the night before…

13. To support a charity. Taking on a challenge is a great way to raise money for a charity – especially if people are sceptical about whether you can achieve it! Get sponsored for your endeavours and the benefits soon multiply. Gain sleep, lose weight, save pounds, make pounds, help yourself – help others. No brainer. Ready to sign up???? I’d drink to your success but maybe that’s too ironic…

For more information or to sign up visit:

https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january

At Choose Occupational Health we can deliver health initiatives and promotions onsite, designed specifically for your needs – including alcohol awareness programmes and healthy living. We also offer drug and alcohol testing. Call us today on 01228 513687 for details.