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Dry January

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Published: 20 January 2021

Students drinking non-alcoholic drinks

For lots of people, the New Year is an opportunity to start new habits and look after yourself.

The Health and Wellbeing team are back for 2021 with an introduction to one of the most popular resolutions - Dry January.

“Happy New Year! This is the time to reflect on the past, welcome in the new and re-energise ourselves as we look forward to what’s to come.

There are records showing New Year’s resolutions have existed as far back as the 19th or even late 17th century.

It’s a time of year where we set goals to work towards, often to do with looking after ourselves.

As we all learned during the pandemic, our health and wellbeing have never been more important.

So why not try one of the most popular resolutions for yourself – Dry January – the promise to abstain from drinking for the month.

For many people, alcohol helps us to relax, especially in social situations. Although this can be fine in moderation, there are plenty of negative side effects to regular consumption.

The initial impacts of drinking are felt within the first five to ten minutes. This can include your body relaxing and your inhibitions being affected.

One reason behind this altered state is that alcohol causes the body to produce the hormone dopamine.

Sometimes referred to as the ‘happy hormone’, dopamine is an important part of your brain’s reward centre – giving you good feelings for doing things that should be healthy for us.

Alcohol is also a depressant – which means it slows down our brain functions too, so we don’t feel certain negative emotions.

But these do end up coming out anyway which is why those initial calm feelings have gone the next day we can feel stressed, angry and sad.

The effects of alcohol use only get worse over time, eventually affecting our bodies and our mental health.

Benefits of cutting out the alcohol

According to the official organisers of Dry January, there are more than a few reasons to consider reducing your alcohol consumption:

Financial benefit: 86% of participants save money.

Improved physical and mental health: 70% of people taking part in Dry January have better sleep and see a 66% in energy.

Do it for charity: Look after yourself and give back to others. Get more information on how to Go Dry for Charity.

Make a change

Action for Happiness suggests you try replacing alcohol with something positive. Check out their Happier January calendar for ideas and inspiration.

If you’re interested, sign up and join Dry January with the Alcohol Change campaign.

If you are struggling with low-mood and need emotional support, there are loads of resources to help you:

  • TogetherAll – An online community providing a safe space to talk and support each other.
  • Silver Cloud – Free online guided self-help - sign up using your university email address
  • Samaritans – Free confidential listening support available 24 hours a day seven days a week. Call them on 116 123”