Mental Wellness Month: How Participating in Dry January Affects Your Overall Mental Health
It is January, which means you have made it to a new year. This is a celebration in and of itself, and with the new year, there are new resolutions, or maybe even past resolutions that you would like to try to achieve again. If your resolution is to kickstart your sobriety, then participating in Dry January is a good place to start.
What is Dry January?
Dry January can be defined as a voluntary effort to avoid drinking alcohol during the first month of the year. Also, if you have managed to avoid the temptation of drinking during the holidays, then you can further maintain your sobriety by challenging yourself with Dry January.
Dry January is a great way to sample sobriety, reap the benefits of drinking less, and save money following the holidays.
January is Mental Wellness Month
January is known not only as Dry January but also as Mental Wellness Month. For those who wish to maintain sobriety, Dry January and Mental Wellness Month may be entwined.
Mental health often plays a role in who drinks more excessively. For example, according to a poll done by one news site, 64% of people with depression are more likely to drink more than those who do not. The same is true for 41% of people with anxiety. These mental health disorders can sometimes complicate your path to sobriety, but luckily there are several strategies you can use to manage these disorders.
There are also several benefits for those who participate in Dry January.
Physical and Mental Benefits
Heavy drinking often comes with several health risks. However, as you quit alcohol and it leaves your system, your body will begin to feel physically better. A few of the physical benefits you may experience include:
- Better skin health: Alcohol can have a negative effect on the skin, including dehydration, inflammation, jaundice, and reduced collagen levels. Once you quit alcohol, your skin will begin to improve, your color will slowly return back to normal, and your skin’s elasticity will be restored.
- Healthier weight: Excessive drinking can have a negative effect on your weight. With alcohol, not only is your body not getting essential nutrients, but your calorie consumption due to binge drinking can lead to a heavier weight. Abstaining from alcohol can help you get on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
- Reduced health risks: Abstaining from alcohol can also lead to lower health risks, such as cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Alcohol can increase your risk of developing cancer since it is a known carcinogen, so heavy drinkers are the most at risk. They are also more at risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event than those who are not heavy drinkers. So the sooner you quit drinking, the more you will reduce these alcohol-related health risks.
In addition to benefiting physically from quitting alcohol, there are also mental benefits. Since alcohol worsens mental health symptoms, these symptoms will lessen once you cease drinking. Mental benefits include:
- Improved sleep: Alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle, making it difficult for you to fall or stay asleep. Additionally, it can cause problems such as sleep apnea or snoring. Abstaining from alcohol during Dry January can help lessen these effects and improve your sleep cycle.
- Improved focus: A study done during Dry January shows that 57% of participants showed improvement in concentration. Alcohol can alter the brain’s structure, and when you abstain from alcohol your brain can begin to partially fix the damage done to it while drinking.
- Improved memory: Similarly, drinking can shrink the part of the brain, called the hippocampus, that plays a critical role in learning and memory. Drinking alcohol can shrink this complex brain structure, but quitting alcohol can help to reverse its negative effects on the hippocampus. As a result, your memory and thinking skills will improve.
Get Started with Dry January Today: Contact Ethos Recovery
There are several reasons why you may want to participate in Dry January. Maybe it is to reduce your physical health risks, improve your sleep or focus, or maybe it is just for yourself or a loved one. Whatever your reason, there is no better time to challenge yourself to abstain from drinking like during the first month of the year.
With January also being Mental Wellness Month, participating in Dry January can help to improve your own mental health.
Get in touch with us today at Ethos Recovery, where we can offer you resources to help with your recovery. Learn how we can help you on your mental health and wellness journey.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.