Need a New Year’s resolution? A ‘dry January’ may be secret to better health, more money

SUSSEX, England — Can’t decide on a realistic New Year’s resolution that you’ll actually keep? A new study finds that taking on a “dry January” may help bring about better health and strengthen your financial situation — without requiring too much effort.

“Dry January” is a relatively new trend taking over people’s New Year’s resolutions. It refers to abstaining from alcohol for the entire month of January, and researchers from the University of Sussex say there might be something to the trend.

The researchers found that people who abstain from alcohol for a month can exercise more control over their drinking habits, increase their overall energy levels, improve their skin health, and lose weight. Most participants also report saving more money and drinking less throughout the year.

“The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term: by August people are reporting one extra dry day per week. There are also considerable immediate benefits: nine in ten people save money, seven in ten sleep better and three in five lose weight,” says lead author Dr. Richard de Visser, Reader in Psychology at the university, in a media release. “Interestingly, these changes in alcohol consumption have also been seen in the participants who didn’t manage to stay alcohol-free for the whole month – although they are a bit smaller. This shows that there are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January.”

Dr. de Visser’s research was based on a survey of people who completed a dry January in 2018. The results showed that most participants were still drinking less than previous levels in August. Among the findings:

  • 93% of participants had a sense of achievement
  • 88% saved money
  • 82% think more deeply about their relationship with drink
  • 80% feel more in control of their drinking
  • 76% learned more about when and why they drink
  • 71% realized they don’t need a drink to enjoy themselves
  • 70% had generally improved health
  • 71% slept better
  • 67% had more energy
  • 58% lost weight
  • 57% felt improved levels of concentration
  • 54% reported better skin

Participants also reported getting drunk about two times per month after successfully completing dry January, compared to about 3.4 times per month beforehand. The number of days per week in which participants would consume an alcoholic beverage also dropped from about four days to three days.

For the study, Dr. de Visser used 1,715 surveys completed by participants the first week of February, and another 816 in August.

A recent poll found that one in ten people in the United Kingdom who drink were planning on giving dry January a shot in 2019.

“Put simply, Dry January can change lives,” says Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, the charity that runs Dry January. “We hear every day from people who took charge of their drinking using Dry January, and who feel healthier and happier as a result.”

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Ben Renner

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