What Is Dry January? 5 Changes You'll Notice If You Start The New Year With No Alcohol

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If you’re someone who's always on the internet, but you can’t keep up with the many trends passing in and out of your news feeds (aka someone like me), then you may have missed the memo on what Dry January is. It's a pretty simple concept: You give up drinking alcohol for all 31 days of January. While the idea of ditching alcohol for any period of time is by no means a new one, the popularity of Dry January really only just began a few years ago.

Alcohol Concern, a UK-based charity that works to combat alcohol abuse, first launched the campaign of "Dry January" in May 2012. It turned out to be a huge success, as it proved to help a lot of people curb their drinking habits, and even for those who didn't necessarily abuse alcohol, participating in Dry January helped them "feel more confident turning down a drink when they [didn't] really want one" when out at social events.

When all is said and done, the decision to do Dry January is a personal one, and it's all about what you want to learn or gain from the experience. But if you're on the fence about whether or not you really want to give it a shot, here are a few changes you could notice in your life if you do choose to start your new year off with a month of no alcohol.

1Your Skin Will Probably Love It

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Too much alcohol intake can negatively affect your skin because the booze basically robs your body of vitamin A, a key nutrient that your skin needs to stay healthy.

Of course, giving up alcohol for a month won't be a one-way ticket to a radiant, glowing face that lasts forever, but it'll definitely let your pores breathe for a bit (and maybe it'll even inspire you to find other ways to care for your skin in the new year).

2You'll Sleep Better And Have More Energy

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I hate to break it to you, but alcohol does ruin your sleep. Aside from the pounding headache that’ll probably ruin your day the moment you wake up, Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta of the University of South California’s Keck School of Medicine told Huffington Post that drinking alcohol before bed can mess up your sleep cycle — and as a result, steal your energy in the daytime.

So, imagine 31 straight days of potentially amazing — or at the very least, improved — sleep. Sounds pretty heavenly to me.

3Your Body Will Have A Chance To Repair Itself

If you normally drink a lot of alcohol, you're causing some level of damage to your liver. But the good news is that your liver's actually able to heal itself — at least, that's how it's meant to function, though excessive alcohol abuse could damage your liver to the point of cirrhosis, which kills approximately 31,000 Americans each year. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, while we obviously cannot attribute every single case of cirrhosis to alcohol alone, "the vast majority of cases of cirrhosis could be prevented by eliminating chronic alcohol abuse."

So, when you stop drinking alcohol, your self-healing liver gets that chance to repair itself. Why not seize the opportunity of Dry January to flush all those toxins out of your system?

4Your Mental Health May Improve

There will always be times when too much sh*t is going on in life, and you simply want to have a drink at the end of a long day.

However, being the imperfectly gorgeous human beings that we are, sometimes we fall through the cracks, and the next thing we know, alcohol becomes our saving grace to turn to whenever a crappy moment strikes. This is when a problem can potentially begin.

Paul Wallace, chief medical adviser to alcohol education charity Drinkaware, told Huffington Post UK,

Having a drink after a hard day might help you relax, but in the long run it can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety and make stress harder to deal with.
This is because regular, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health.

With alcohol no longer in the picture, you're essentially challenging yourself to find different — and likely healthier — ways to cope with stress. It might seem daunting at first, but trust me, with the help of little things like essential oils, or even some restorative yoga poses, you'll forget all about that nightcap you used to resort to.

5You'll Reconnect With Life In A New Way

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Dry January offers you an opportunity to clear your mind (and your body), and as a result, allows you to explore parts of your life that you may have been neglecting because of your drinking habits.

For example, maybe you've been interested in taking an improv class that meets on Saturday nights, but you're always out at a bar with friends on those evenings. As alcohol starts to take the backseat in your life, allow other things to come into the forefront: hobbies that you've been meaning to get involved in, movies you've wanted to see, friends you really want to reconnect with. Trust me, you might just discover a whole different side of yourself that you weren't expecting to connect with.