Dry January, My 5 Reflections- Now what?

a glass of almost empty glass of red wine with a view of a vineyard in the distance.

I decided to challenge myself and participate in dry January. I learned a lot about the research and I got to experience most of it myself. It wasn’t easy but was it worth it?

a glass of almost empty glass of red wine with a view of a vineyard in the distance.
Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash

What is dry January & Why do people do it?

Dry January is said to have originated in the UK to get people to be more conscious of their alcohol consumption and ultimately change their drinking habits. I live in the United States, and it has been gaining popularity here as well. Simply put, It’s a month of no drinking alcohol. 

In 2022, around 35% of people said they were participating. I was one of them and for a lot of the same reasons. Dry January sounds appealing to many who want to curb their alcohol intake, be healthier, and lose weight. It is also a way to save money and is easier to do than deciding on a new year’s resolution. 

Why I did it.

I did dry January in 2022 and it was HARD. A glass of wine was my best friend after I put my little one to sleep and how I would unwind after a long day. The reason why I did it then, and why I decided to do it again in 2023 was for the same reason: I wanted to start the year off in control and focus on ME, my health, and wellness. 

I also like a challenge, so what better way than to say, “hey, I’m starting the new year focusing on ME!” Since I found that drinking was becoming a clutch, something I used for comfort and relaxation, I wanted to take the time to find new ways of achieving those things. Plus, it might save me some money. 

Benefits of Dry January 

The benefits range from health and psychological benefits to financial benefits. Here are a few I found from my research, later I will reflect on the benefits I experienced. 

  • Clearer Complexion. Ever wonder why your face gets pink when you’re drinking? It’s because alcohol dilates blood vessels in your face. When you don’t drink, it cuts back on redness in your skin. 
  • Weight Loss. Do you know how many calories a margarita has? Anywhere from 200 to 300 calories…unless you go to one of those chain restaurants that like to add all sorts of syrups. Cutting down on your happy hour drinks or nightcaps can lead to losing some lbs
  • Improve your mood. This is especially true if you suffer from some form of mental health condition, like anxiety. Alcohol is a depressant and instead of helping you relax after the moment passes you may start to feel more anxious than before. Especially if you are using it as a coping mechanism. 
  • Save Money. A study by the University of Sussex found that 88% of people participating in dry January saved money. I know that it ain’t cheap to go out for drinks at the bar, even a bottle of “so-so” wine is going to cost you around $10.99. Depending on how much you usually drink the savings add up. 

My 5 Reflections.

These are my five reflections after completing dry January and the benefits that I observed. 

  1. Willpower! Oxford Languages dictionary defines willpower as “control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.” Part of the reason why I participate in dry January is to take back control and focus on ME and my wellness. It felt so good to know that I was able to overcome temptations and find other ways to cope with stress. 
  2. Better Sleep. I was starting to notice that on the nights when I had a few glasses of wine, I had a hard time sleeping. My Oura ring was proof of that. There were only four nights that I didn’t sleep well in January. I’ve also realized how important sleep is for your overall health. Watch this video where Matt Walker explains how “Sleep is Your Superpower.”
  3. Less brain fog. Brain fog has been a BIG part of my life for the last few years, I have a three-year-old and I had long-term side effects from getting COVID in 2021. I know what it feels like and it’s definitely something that I was happy not to feel as much of during the month of January. Not drinking alcohol gave me more energy and a clearer mind to tackle my daily to-do list. 
  4. Sense of accomplishment. It felt DAMN good to get to day 31 knowing that I resisted any and all drinks. Going out for dinner was the hardest, especially at our favorite restaurant that makes one of my favorite margaritas. Knowing that I could do this for 31 days gives me pride in myself and it makes me feel like I could keep going or tackle something else. 
  5. Saved Money. Everything is more expensive these days. I use a zero-based budgeting approach so I assign my money to a job each month. Prior to January, I used to have a separate alcohol bucket because I didn’t want my grocery money to be used on it. I would easily spend $100 a month on buying bottles of wine, that didn’t include the money I would spend on cocktails when going out for dinner. In total, I saved about $200 from not drinking in January. That is a week’s worth of groceries for my family, a nice pair of shoes, or a new jacket. 
Picture of the month of January calendar with dates and crowns above some of the dates.
My Oura Ring data from January. The crowns represent optimal results.

Major take-aways and what’s next…

I am proud of myself, but I want to be honest…dry January wasn’t easy. I had some days where all I wanted was a nice crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc. We would go out to dinner as a family and my partner would order a martini, I just watched as he sipped and savored it. 

However, my body felt good the entire month. I felt less fatigue and didn’t fear getting a hangover the next day that would hinder my productivity. I would say that I gained more than I lost by cutting out alcohol. 

As far as what’s next, I still crave a glass of wine once and a while so I don’t think I will give it up completely. I want to continue to challenge myself and cut down on my drinking significantly. What does that mean? Saving the wine and margaritas for special occasions instead of a stress reliever. Cheers! 

If you want to follow along my wellness journey, follow me on Instagram @hablandowellness where I share what I learn and empower others to make changes for their own wellness. Let’s do this juntos! I got you!

Learn more about me and my vision for wellness.

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