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How Dry January Can Be Beneficial to Your Mental Health

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

“Dry January” is 30 days during the first month of the year, where individuals refrain from drinking alcohol as a way to cleanse their body and their mind.

Alcohol consumption usually peaks during the holidays, fueling addictions and mental health disorders, often leaving individuals feeling a plethora of negative feelings.

Alcohol acts on the neurochemical pathways in the brain, making individuals feel euphoric after consuming a drink or two.

Still, over time more alcohol is needed to produce these same feelings of euphoria.

Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to anxiety, depression, poor physical health, and behavioral problems and can have substantial consequences in terms of financial strain and relationship conflicts.

Participating in Dry January has positive effects on mental and physical health and may even raise awareness of an underlying alcohol use disorder. Below are some of the benefits of participating in Dry January:
Better Sleep Habits

Alcohol is a depressant, and although it triggers the body to fall fast asleep, it also increases nighttime awakenings by interfering with the sleep-wake cycle.

Alcohol is known to block REM sleep, which is considered the most restorative sleep stage in the sleep cycle.

Individuals who have less REM sleep or interrupted REM sleep will wake up feeling tired and unfocused.

Alcohol is also known to affect the circadian rhythm by producing increased amounts of adenosine, which is a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain.

Refraining from alcohol for 30 days can help restore the brain and body to its normal sleep-wake cycle, leaving individuals feeling more refreshed and energized throughout the day.

Sleep is essential for every aspect of daily life as it is needed to focus and concentrate and can also affect metabolism, mood, and energy.

A well-rested individual is more likely to be more productive during the day, contributing more time to their job, relationships, and self in a positive manner.
More Stable Mood

Since alcohol is a depressant, it can trigger mood swings and irritability. Over time, alcohol is particularly a trigger for a depressive mind state and can leave individuals feeling unmotivated, out of control, and even suicidal.

Although alcohol does have a temporary euphoric effect, chronic use can re-wire the brain leading to a state of anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure).

Taking a break from alcohol for a month can help the brain get back to equilibrium, which can lead to mood stabilization and having the ability to feel pleasure once again.

Individuals who are alcohol-free often notice they have more mental clarity and have better control of their emotions.
More Money in Your Wallet

Alcohol is expensive, no matter what type or where it is purchased.

Many individuals who are moderate to heavy drinkers may spend anywhere from $100 to $600 a month on alcohol, depending on how often they go to bars and the type of alcohol they consume.

This does not include paying for designated driving services or loss of wages when calling in sick due to alcohol withdrawals (also known as hangovers).

Cutting out alcohol for January can have a drastic impact on the month’s budget. It can allow individuals to save more money or have that money to spend on more important necessities such as a utility or grocery bill.
Deeper Connections With Friends & Family

Alcohol can often lead to social isolation, especially when individuals are moderate to heavy drinkers.

Individuals may try to hide their alcohol consumption from loved ones, which means isolating themselves from friends and family.

Individuals may also begin to lie to loved ones and spend more time by themselves or with other individuals who enjoy drinking.

Taking a break from alcohol for January can allow individuals to become more present and acknowledge their social environments.

Without alcohol, individuals will most likely notice that they are more socially tuned and connected to their surroundings.
Better Work Performance

Alcohol can have a negative impact on attention span and concentration, leaving individuals feeling tired, unmotivated, and sometimes even hung-over.

Refraining from alcohol can help clear the mind and improve concentration leaving individuals feeling more motivated.

Work tasks will become easier, and many individuals may notice they enjoy their line of work and have a stronger drive for success.

Giving up alcohol for 30 days in dry January is a great way to cleanse the body and mind; however, this not for everyone, especially those who are heavy drinkers and who are at risk of withdrawals.

Quitting alcohol cold turkey can lead to life-threatening withdrawals, and therefore heavy drinkers are encouraged to seek professional treatment for their alcohol use disorder.
AKUA is Here To Help!

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use or a mental health disorder, AKUA can help.

AKUA Mind & Body provides an integrative treatment approach with multiple levels of care from detox, residential to intensive outpatient programs.

Call our 24/7 admissions helpline at 833-258-2669 to seek help today!

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