After overindulging during the holidays, many people have begun the annual tradition of Dry January as a way to detox from the binge eating and drinking during December. Dry January began in the United Kingdom in 2011 and quickly made its way across the ocean the following year. There’s good reason to commit to it: studies show that abstaining from alcohol for a month increases the odds of drinking less over the next six months. Considering that roughly 30 million Americans are binge drinkers (those who consume four or more drink at least once a week), drinking less is an excellent wellness choice. Here are some of the things that may happen when you stop drinking alcohol:
1. Your skin looks better
A clearer complexion may be one of the first things you notice when you forego alcohol. Alcohol causes inflammation and dehydration, which can cause more breakouts. Many people see a brighter complexion within two weeks of not drinking.
2. You feel better
Imagine waking any morning without a headache or feeling nauseous…feeling better leads to more productivity. Even if you don’t binge drink, you’ll be surprised to see how even a few drinks can reek havoc on the following day.
3. Mental health is improved
Alcohol is a depressant, so for people living with depressive disorders, it can have devastating effects. Self-medicating with alcohol actually lowers serotonin levels and can worsen depression. People with mental health problems are more likely to suffer from addiction so avoiding alcohol is especially important for this demographic.
4. You can lose weight
Alcohol has no nutritional value, but it does have plenty of calories. Simply by cutting out alcohol, you may be eliminating hundreds, even thousands, of empty calories a week.
5. You save money
Going out and drinking is expensive — many won’t be an eye on spending $16 for a craft cocktail or glass of wine. That adds up quickly, even if you prefer to drink in the comfort of your home.
6. You’ll sleep better
Though a nightcap may help you fall asleep faster, alcohol actually disrupts the most restorative phase of sleep that occurs later.
7. You’ll feel in more control
As mentioned, studies show that people who cut out alcohol for a month are likely to drink less over the course of the year. Not only that, but being confident to turning down drinks leaves you feeling more in control overall.