By Dr Louise Slaney, medical director at Aberdeen-based International Medical Management (IMM)
YOU’VE successfully conquered Dry January, so now you might consider making this a sustainable, lifelong wellness choice.
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Firstly, congratulations are in order for successfully navigating the challenges of an alcohol-free month. It isn’t always easy. ‘No thanks, I’m not drinking’ can often be met with looks of disdain or a feeling that alcohol might be needed to ensure a good night out. It can also make you feel isolated if you turn down drink-focused social invites.
But if you’ve managed to navigate your way through those, you are probably reaping numerous physical, mental and financial benefits.
As you reflect on this month-long accomplishment, you may now be contemplating how to transform it into a sustainable life choice.
Being alcohol-free isn’t just for January if you don’t want it to be. If you’re pondering the continuation of this lifestyle, it’s a clear indication that your body and mind appreciated the benefits. Beyond the initial 31 days, the journey to a healthier, alcohol-free lifestyle is a continuous process.
Take a moment to reflect on the positive changes experienced during this month-long break from alcohol, including improved mood, better sleep and potential weight loss. Participants in Dry January often express beneficial effects on their relationships, alongside the added bonus of saving money.
According to a survey by Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind Dry January, 65% of participants noticed improved health, with 66% experiencing increased energy and 70% enjoying better sleep. Additionally, 86% of individuals saved money during this period.
The health benefits further extend to lower blood pressure, reduced diabetes risk, lower cholesterol and reduced level of cancer-related proteins in the blood. Acknowledge these improvements and use them as motivation for the journey ahead.
To turn this into a lifelong wellness choice, understand your motivation for undertaking Dry January in the first place and keep these reasons at the forefront of your mind as positive reminders.
Consider the 1st of February as the beginning of an ongoing journey, not the end. Set another goal to reach, perhaps another month first and reward yourself for targets met.
Establishing new routines and incorporating positive replacement activities, such as walking, painting or reading can be worthwhile. Cultivate an absorbing hobby to enhance your wellbeing.
It is also important to recognise that you are not alone in pursuing a healthier lifestyle. A substantial portion (18%) of the UK population already abstains from alcohol, and the desire to reduce alcohol consumption is a growing trend, with 30% of men and 26% of women expressing a wish to cut back in 2024.
In summary, Dry January doesn’t need to just be a temporary challenge but instead a catalyst for lasting positive change. As you embark on the journey beyond January, keep the lessons learned and the benefits gained at the front of your mind allowing them to shape a future marked by sustained wellbeing and fulfilment.
Dr Louise Slaney is Medical Director with Aberdeen-based International Medical Management (IMM). IMM provides occupational health, medical and other services to the onshore and offshore sectors.
For more information, please visit www.intmedical.com