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AT the start of every new year, many look to pick up healthy habits such as giving up drinking alcohol for one month – but it can be difficult to do alone.
In an exclusive interview with The U.S. Sun, Hilary Sheinbaum, author of The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month and founder of goingdry.co, revealed that giving up alcohol for any amount of time is good for one’s health.
While many choose to give up alcohol for the entire month of January to start off a new year, the dry month expert explained others choose to do a “one-drink January” or “Damp January,” to at least limit their alcohol consumption.
“Dry January isn’t about having an all-or-nothing mentality,” Sheinbaum said.
“It’s about seeing what life is like without booze, reaping amazing benefits in the process, and gaining a better understanding of your relationship with alcohol.”
For those who are looking to stay sober for all of January, Sheinbaum has five key tips to follow to stick to that goal.
1. RECRUIT A FRIEND
One of the first things people can do to stick to their sober goal is to recruit a friend to complete the challenge with them, she said.
“There’s strength, support, and success in numbers,” Sheinbaum said.
“Having a buddy do a Dry January with you is helpful because you’ll have someone to plan non-alcoholic adventures with!”
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The dry month expert explained that having a friend complete a dry month with you can also be beneficial for venting and talking about the experience as they understand the lifestyle changes.
2. DRINK NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Another key way to stay sober is by drinking non-alcoholic beverages.
Sheinbaum recommended people turn to fresh pressed juices, mocktails, or energy drinks as alcoholic alternatives.
For cocktail lovers, she suggested purchasing non-alcoholic spirits such as Free Spirits Bourbon, Damrak 0.0 Gin, and FLUERE Spice Cane.
She also revealed that those who enjoy a glass of wine can also buy alcohol-removed wines for various celebrations and dinners, such as Freixenet Alcohol-Removed Sparkling Rosé and Mionetto Alcohol-Removed Sparkling Wine.
3. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
“Giving up booze is hard and alcohol is everywhere,” Sheinbaum said.
“It’s part of so many things we do – in celebrations, dating, grieving, socializing and even boredom.”
The dry month expert appeared to indicate that there should be no shame around breaking the sober month – either on accident or on purpose.
4. PLAN ACTIVITIES
As many parts of life include alcohol, Sheinbaum suggests people doing a Dry January “take the lead on planning activities.”
“Be the person in the friend group who takes the reins and makes plans that don’t involve drinking,” she recommended.
If you are the only person within your friend group going sober for the month, or longer, Sheinbaum recommends using certain tools to help find non-alcoholic options.
She specifically suggested using the Better Without app, which can provide results for bars and restaurants in your area that provide non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages.
Using this app, she said it can be easier to “plan inclusive get-togethers.”
5. TREAT YOURSELF
After finishing an entire Dry January, Sheinbaum said it is important to celebrate.
However, that doesn’t mean people should jump back into drinking the same amount they were before the month began.
“Whether you want to buy yourself a nice dinner or celebrate with a bubble bath, it’s important to commemorate your month,” the dry expert said.
“This can also be a great time to reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself and jot down thoughts on what you’ve enjoyed.”
Sheinbaum also recommended journaling about the experience and what they would change if they were to attempt the challenge again.
“Or maybe you’re extending your dry challenge for a longer period of time and want to write about your dry journey and evolution,” she said.
For those looking to complete a Dry January or another dry month in 2024, Sheinbaum did warn that not everyone will see the benefits of giving up alcohol at the same time.
Even if someone can’t visibly see changes right away, that doesn’t mean they aren’t benefiting from going sober.
Some of the benefits people may encounter when they stop drinking include clear skin, weight loss, increased motivation, better digestion, better sleep, and even financial savings.
Sheinbaum revealed that it took her about 10 days to see positive changes in her sleep when she completed her first Dry January nearly seven years ago.
“The first month I did a Dry January was in 2017. I gained better sleep, and clearer skin, and it elevated my mood,” she said.
“Alcohol is a depressant, after all! I remember so vividly that it was so cold and gloomy all month but I was beaming and so happy throughout it, without alcohol. It was pretty nuts.”
Sheinbaum is not sober in her daily life, but still completes a Dry January every year, as well as other months.
“I’m a huge advocate for living your best life and engaging in activities without booze. It’s such a wellness game changer,” she said.
“With all of that said, it’s important to note that dry months can be helpful for those looking to cut back on alcohol but Dry Challenges are not a replacement or substitute for alcohol recovery programs.”