10 Things To Do During Dry January If You've Never Ditched Alcohol For That Long

I've been sober for almost five years, so trust me, I know a thing or two about having a good time sans the booze. I also know that, when January rolls around, it's not just the sobriety full-timers who take a break from the sauce after the debauchery and indulgence that often tag along with the holidays. But yes, there's kind of an awkward space left behind that used to be filled with booze and bars. But worry not, I know a whole host of things to do during dry January if you've never ditched alcohol for a whole month before.

And really, if you're having any doubts about it, taking a break from alcohol really is a great idea! According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion's dietary guidelines about alcohol, moderate drinking — the only kind that's "recommended" — for people over the age of 21 means one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men. More than that isn't really all that good for you.

So after a long bout of, let's be real here, a lot more than that during the holidays, give your body a real chance to recuperate, and allow yourself the opportunity to find some new, fun ways to spend your free time. Who knows, you might just be surprised by how clear and energetic you feel!

Finally Do That Exercise Challenge

Yes, it's true that gyms see a real surge in memberships during the month of January, since exercise is so often on the top of new year's resolution lists. But hey, that means if you decide to hop on this bandwagon yourself, you're going to have plenty of pals right by your side.

Plus, trust me when I say that exercise is a lot easier, and even feels a whole lot better, when you aren't nursing a hangover at the same time.

Use this as an opportunity to give that 30-day online yoga challenge a try, or even challenge yourself to simply take a brisk walk around the block every morning throughout the month of January — you know, just to see how it feels.

Throw A Ridiculous Theme Party

Parties where you don't drink? Yes, they do exist, and they aren't just birthday parties for children.

This is one of my personal favorite things to do, and my all time best was definitely a talent show. My roomies and I had a make-shift stage with a gold curtain from Party City, a spotlight, and a make-your-own-taco station. And, believe it or not, from joke-telling, to singing, to bizarro talents, we had a full line-up to entertain us all night long. While it definitely did take some planning and preparation to keep us all busy, it was well worth the trouble.

Plus, you might just be surprised by how fun it is to be totally sober while you finally read aloud some of your poetry to a room full of your favorite people.

Take Up A New Craft, Like Knitting
We Are Knitters

The Aunt Sharon Snood - Crochet Kit, $75, We Are Knitters

If not knitting, maybe you want to learn how to sew, or crochet, or perhaps you want to start beading.

Remember, anything you can do with your hands takes a healthy bit of brain power, too! Studies find that hobbies like quilting are really good for your brain, and hey, maybe that extra boost of brain power will keep your mind away from dreaming of gin.

To make it social, you can throw a knitting party with your other crafty buddies, and have everyone bring their favorite snack. Sit around with people you love, enjoy some great conversation, and be artsy together!

Plus, you have the added benefit of having something to show for your new hobby. Choose a pattern that seems approachable, but is something you'd actually want to wear when it's complete.

Make A Reading List To Finish In A Month

What if you gave yourself the challenge of reading one book a week? Think you can do it?

Yes, you'd definitely have to carve out some time at night and on the weekends to curl up with a book (and a hot cocoa). Make it even more fun by sticking to a theme or a series, like Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, or 20th-century American short story writers, or autobiographies of your historical idols.

If you like the book enough, you won't want to put it down, and you're going to feel so darn smart and well-read by the time February rolls around.

Try A Winter Sport You Thought You'd Never Be Able To Do

No, this doesn't have to mean extreme skiing. Head to your local skating rink, or if you're in a colder climate, strap on some snowshoes, or (like I just did), try snowmobiling!

Sometimes, making nice with mother nature makes winter a lot more bearable, and it has the added benefit of totally tuckering you out. You'll be asleep long before happy hour even begins.

Take A Trip That's Been On Your Bucket List Forever

Even science says the benefits of a good vacation are no joke, and that a break from your normal life is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

Of course, you'll want to fill your trip with activities that don't focus around the bevs, like hikes, tours, walking around art museums — whatever floats your boat, girl.

But trust me, you don't necessarily have to get on a plane or spend a bunch of dough to get the job done. Although, TBH, you will have a little extra cash to spend since you won't be blowing ti all at the bar every weekend, right?

For real, though, even just getting on a bus to see a friend means a nice change of scenery. Heck, sometimes I even just take a day to go to a neighborhood I never visit, and I take myself out to lunch and a movie, or I walk around a gallery. Those are the trips you can plan any and every weekend.

Start Meditating

OK, yes, this one is easier said than done, but why not take a class on it, or join a group like Dharma Punx? There are meditation meet-ups all over the country, so give a shot at trying one in your 'hood.

Volunteer Somewhere

From answering phones at a crisis hotline, to making art with kids at a weekend daycare, you have the freedom to choose anything that resonates with you. Sincee you won't have hangovers to slow you down, you can plan to volunteer in the mornings, on the weekends, or whenever!

Take A Class On Something You've Always Wanted To Learn About

Challenge yourself by picking a course that will give you a little homework to do. Whether it's an online poetry class, or a coding class, have it be something you can throw yourself into, that takes up some real brain power and a little extra time.

Just Freakin' Relax

Because, let's be honest, we're all really just looking for an excuse to stay in and watch movies, aren't we?