Dry January Has Mental Health Benefits

If 2021 was emotionally and mentally draining for you, participating in Dry January may be worth considering. A period of abstaining from alcohol can increase mental clarity and improve mental health as you enter 2022.

Let’s dig in to understand why:

Alcohol Impacts Your Mental Health

The common wisdom is that we drink to relax, elevate our mood and enhance sociability. For these reasons, alcohol seems ever-present during social gatherings, especially during the holidays. But the way alcohol makes you feel depends on different factors, including your physical health, weight, mood and even who you’re drinking with.

Your brain relies on a precise balance of chemicals and processes. Unfortunately, regular, heavy drinking interferes with your brain chemicals that are vital for good mental health. So while you might feel relaxed after a drink, in the long run, alcohol can contribute to feelings of depression or anxiety and make that stress even harder to deal with.

If you’re using alcohol as a coping mechanism to avoid difficult emotions or situations, you could be moving into dependence or addiction. And consuming alcohol in excess and abusively can ultimately take a toll on both your mental and physical health.

A Break Can Help You Re-evaluate

If you wonder whether your alcohol consumption is harming you more than it’s helping you, use Dry January as a testing period to evaluate how alcohol has impacted your mental health.

Keep a journal as the days of abstaining from alcohol go by. Are you feeling less anxious and less depressed? Are you sleeping better? Are you thinking more clearly and less irritable without hangovers and post-alcohol headaches? Does having more mental clarity allow you to make better decisions, focus more on your relationships, put priorities into perspective and build self-awareness?

It may surprise you what giving up alcohol for just one month can do for you. Taking a month off alcohol can have long-term effects. You’ll experience a sense of achievement after completing the month, helping build your confidence and empower you. You’ll save money, which you can spend on meaningful things and activities that increase your happiness. With better sleep and higher energy levels, you will feel revived and elevated.

At the end of Dry January, you may see that refraining from drinking alcohol has led to positive changes. But if you struggled to get through 31 days of abstaining from alcohol, it may also serve as a wake-up call.

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