You may have heard of Dry January, the annual movement wherein millions of people don't drink alcohol for the month of January. Some people do it to give their livers a rest while others do it to see if they can stop drinking for a while — or for good. Curious, I've decided to do it for the first time. In general, I considered myself a social drinker, but alcohol was never essential to going out. In fact, I'd sometimes choose to have a Coke or plain tonic water when meeting my friends — either I'd be working later that night and want to have a clear head or I just didn't feel like drinking and dealing with the aftermath (exhaustion, headaches, etc.). And, TBH, no one ever knows the difference — it's not like they're inspecting my drink — and they probably would not care anyway.
Plus, I've dated several guys with drinking problems and vowed to choose more wisely in the future, and it worked: I started to meet more and more guys who barely drank or did not at all — either for health reasons, alcoholism being in their family, and so on. I have to say, it was a nice change from going on dates where your date downs three pints of beer in an hour and starts slurring their words. More importantly, though, you get to see if you're actually into the person without alcohol persuading you that you are, and vice-versa. In many ways, Dry January can benefit your dating life, according to experts.
"There exists a long-standing idea in society that a person needs to bring a foreign substance into [their] body to achieve a higher state of consciousness or connectedness," Shlomo Zalman Bregman, Rabbi, matchmaker, and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "At the end of the day, while alcohol may help a person lower their inhibitions, and they may experience themselves to be a better dater or more 'carefree' or likable when feeling tipsy, this is not a long-term solution. What is a person going to do — forever only date and interact with their significant other while under the influence?" I don't know about you, but I can relate to what Rabbi Bregman says, and can also think back to people I dated who seemed to be more fun when they drank, but were less so when they were sober. But, of course, liking someone in their sober state is what matters day-to-day.
In addition to the above, here are more reasons why I'm trying Dry January this month.
1Too Many People I Know Have Problems With Alcohol
Whether alcoholism runs in your family or you have friends who are alcoholics, if you've seen the devastating effects of alcoholism firsthand — them losing their jobs or marriages — it may make you avoid drinking. I have a few friends and family members who are alcoholics, and remember the days when they were not. Now, I am still their supportive friend and family member, of course, yet their new drinking state is definitely a wake-up call.
2To Reduce My Anxiety
No one likes feeling anxious, right? Another benefit to doing Dry January is to decrease my anxiety. According to Healthline, alcohol can worsen anxiety since it changes your serotonin levels, as well as affects other neurotransmitters in your brain. So if you want a natural, pill-free way to reduce your anxiety, not drinking is an easy option. Also, since Dry January is just one month, you can try it and see how you feel, anxiety-wise, between now and January 31.
3To Date Sober
As I mentioned above, I think there's no better way to get to know a date, especially a first date, than neither of you drinking alcohol. Yes, this may seem impossible to some people, but once you try it — particularly if you choose an activity date, like hiking or biking — you'll see that alcohol's often a first-date crutch, but not essential to having a good time. Plus, you'll be able to assess your date with a clear head: Are you two compatible and do you have chemistry without alcohol influencing your feelings? "There are many upsides to the Dry January movement," Dr. Suzana Flores, clinical psychologist and author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives, tells Bustle. "For instance, being sober while dating allows you to be fully present in the experience: It will help you remember the date, there's less chance you will say something you will regret, and sober dating may provide you with a new perspective on the date. Plus, you will be more alert to the conversation."
4To Be Myself
As you know, alcohol makes people different versions of themselves. Since it affects everyone differently, it may make an introvert into an extrovert, at least temporarily, or it may boost your confidence and motivate you to speak to someone you may not have if sober. But I feel that it's best to talk to people as myself, which means sans alcohol. After all, people should like you for your sober self not just your drinking one.
5To Sleep Better & Have More Energy
There are many health benefits to not drinking alcohol, from giving your liver a rest to getting more restful sleep at night. As someone with insomnia, I need all the sleep I can get, so if no alcohol is a way to do so, count me in. According to Positive Health Wellness, sleep improves by 10 percent by not drinking alcohol for a month. In addition, they say that your wakefulness the next morning improves by 9.5 percent. Yes, please! And, as you and I both know, particularly after the December holidays and all the holiday parties, January seems like a perfect time to hit the reset button on health. Giving up drinking seems like an easy enough thing to do that has many perks.
6To Help My Skin
"The consumption of alcohol is one of the most common triggers for rosacea flare-ups, causing skin to be inflamed, red, and sensitive," Jill S. Waibel, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Miami, told Women's Health. She added that sugary drinks with alcohol are even worse, since consuming more sugar can age your skin faster. I have to say: Over a week into 2018 now, I can say that my face is a lot less red and I've had zero rosacea flare-ups since Dry January began, so I'll see how it is come the end of the month, too.
7To Save Money
Going out for drinks is not cheap, so an added bonus to doing Dry January is saving money. When you think about it, you can set aside the money you'd spend on a few vodka tonics and start saving it instead. Say you go out for drinks three times a week and, each time, you spend $50. That's $150 a week, or $600 by month's end. However much you spend — or don't spend — on drinks by the end of January, you could have a good amount saved to either put in the bank or spend on a reward for yourself for a job well done for completing Dry January.
As you can see, my reasons for trying Dry January are pretty simple, yet they have big benefits. If you decide to have a sober month, you may have other reasons for doing so, but there's no wrong reason to give up drinking. And if you need help along the way, there's even a Dry January app that'll help you stay in check.