With the restrictions on the sale of alcohol eased and the curfew lifted, this past festive season has been the most normal we have had since the pandemic hit us. It was also a recipe for a season of boozy celebrations which might have you and your kidneys considering joining the Dry January movement for a period of abstinence.

Dry January began as an annual challenge in the United Kingdom (UK) to encourage a healthier, alcohol-free lifestyle. Since its inception in 2013, it has grown into a global movement. Alcohol Change UK, the brains behind the campaign, said Dry January isn’t about giving anything up, it’s about getting something back.

Several benefits when going dry

Marcel Ndaba is one of the millions of people around the world who joined the movement and hasn’t looked back.

“Dry January gives me an opportunity to detox from an excessive intake of alcohol during the festive season. I’ve been doing this for three years now and every year, I feel better, healthier, and more energised. I’m able to jump back into my new year routine quite quickly,” said Ndaba.

But choosing not to indulge for an entire month can be challenging especially if friends and family continue to drink. Dr. Samukeliso Dube, General Manager at the AfroCentric Group, said one’s environment is a big factor when making lifestyle changes.

Support eases the struggle

He suggests spending time with people who will support your decision to go dry. Ndaba said his partner’s support really helps.

“This year my partner is doing Dry January with me so I’m so happy to have someone to support me and motivate me whenever I’m craving a drink. We actually motivate each other because she will have times where she also wants a drink and I’ll remind her of our pact,” he said.

“Remove all stashed cases of alcohol in the house as a start. Focus on goals that will distract you from focusing on drinking like a new hobby like running. Recruit a friend as someone who can support you during this new chapter,” said Dube.

Your body will thank you

Dube said taking a break from alcohol is a good idea even for so-called social drinkers, with several health benefits.

“Abstaining from alcohol is a brilliant idea, with direct health benefits.  Not only is alcohol a source of empty calories, but when alcohol is metabolized, it results in fragmented sleep patterns, a weaker immune system, challenges with concentration, and the loss of water in the body which dries out your skin,” said Dube.

Three tips to help you survive

Here are a trio of tips to get you through Dry January and beyond:

#Tip 1

Find a substitute non-alcoholic drink: When in social situations or when you crave a drink after a long day at work, opt for a non-alcoholic drink like virgin cocktails or mocktails. There are also non-alcoholic beers and wines available. However, you need to check as some brands still contain up to 0.5% alcohol volume.

“During Dry January, I prefer to drink non-alcoholic beer for the taste especially if I’m out in a restaurant after a long day at work. I always opt for non-alcoholic wine but because I’m trying to save money I try not to go out too often and just stay home,” said Ndaba.

#Tip 2

Avoid temptations: To avoid drinking in January it is important that you keep alcohol out of the house. When invited to a social gathering, take your non-alcoholic drinks with you or just opt to drink water – it is healthier anyway.

#Tip 3

Create a support group: Inform your friends and family members that you are participating in Dry January and encourage them to help you stick to your goals. However, if you slip up, don’t feel guilty, just start again the next day. – Health-e News