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Dry January? Yes, you can

Dry January? Yes, you can

Young, footloose, city based and fancy free? That probably meant a fairly boozy Christmas and new year. Hopefully the festive tipples did not inflict too much waistline damage, but unfortunately there may be more problems that you can’t see.

Everything in moderation, they say, but when it comes to alcohol it might need a bit more than that. Hence the ‘dry January’ concept. 

WHAT DOES ALCOHOL DO TO THE BODY?

Do you have to ask? Too much alcohol means wobbly legs, strange behaviour, loss of memory and an uncomfortable morning to follow.  ‘Being drunk’ is actually brain chemicals going haywire. The alcohol interferes with neurotransmitters and hence normal brain function. The result? Slower thinking, slow reactions and increased risk taking. (see why you shouldn’t drink and drive?). A big binge session can be particularly dangerous. Alcohol is also a depressant, so not great for mental health.

Alcohol is seen by the body as a poison, so your liver hits emergency mode to get rid of it. That means it stops doing its normal work of processing food. Hence the sickness, thirst and thumping head. There’s no cure except time and water, so forget the hangover remedies.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I GIVE UP DRINKING?

Quite a few good things go with no alcohol. As well as money saved on the night, and pain saved the next day, you’ll be doing your body a big favour.

Alcohol increases your risk of cancer, heart disease, nervous system damage and stroke. Stop the alcohol and all these risks drop dramatically.

Within a week or two you'll find your brain will be sharper, you'll sleep better and your skin will look clearer. You'll have more energy and your immune system will be boosted.

Your calorie intake will reduce - dramatically if you're a heavy drinker. Combine that with exercise to make the most of the energy boost you'll experience and you should see weight falling off you by the end of the month.

ANY IDEAS TO MAKE IT EASIER?

A good time does not have to involve alcohol, and there’s no need for boring drinks. There are plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives for future parties. (think of the money you’ll save on taxis alone!) Get your friends on board – if they won’t change, maybe it is time for some new friends.

You may find you begin to think about alcohol in a different light. Try not to shy away from social gatherings and you'll soon realise you can still join in and have fun. If you want to feel really good about yourself, seek out someone who has had a few too many. That should give you a motivation boost to stay dry - there is nothing like a drunk person when you're sober to make you realise how glad you are that you've abstained!

Use the ‘new start’ feeling to reassess your relationship with alcohol. Make it an occasional choice, not a habit.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.

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