Posted by Seminal Wellness Team on 1/7/2024 to News
The holiday season is all too frequently the season of indulgence. Along with the smorgasbord of rich, saccharine treats, we often have more than our fill of alcoholic beverages. A Dry January is an effort to give our liver a break, and start the new year with discipline. But, it doesn't have to involve deprivation. We'll talk about alcohol alternatives, sobriety benefits, and ways a dry January can set the stage for a dynamic year ahead.
Why Opt for a Dry January?
More and more adults—particularly, Gen-Zers and Millennials (Robert, 2023)—are opting for a Dry January. Why? With the ongoing opioid crisis, the increasing focus on mental health, and reframing addiction as a disease rather than a defect, people have become motivated to take control of their health, adopting habits that will promote their wellbeing. For many, sobriety is at the core of that drive. Additionally, January marks the beginning of a new year and an opportunity for a new you. Setting aside potentially harmful habits and withering crutches places you on a road to a successful year. However, a Dry January is not only embraced by those who may be struggling with substance abuse. Others opt for a Dry January to avoid the pressure of drinking at social events, and to take a closer look at internal issues that alcohol may be masking, which are, ultimately, undermining their wellness (Ballard, 2016). Decreasing alcohol consumption can lower blood pressure, facilitate weight loss, and address other health issues. Additionally, alcohol can interact with medications and exacerbate colds and flus, for which there are higher risks during the winter (partly occurring during January in the Northern Hemisphere) (Ballard, 2016). Moreover, alcohol can add to anxiety, depression, and lethargy. Along with those possible impacts, alcohol can also cloud one's judgment, trigger poor decision-making, and lead to distractions. Plus, alcohol can disrupt your circadian rhythm, disrupting your sleep and your body's natural rhythm (Ballard, 2016). Lest we forget the savings sobriety can bring. Kegs and cover charges quickly add up. Simply, Dry January can be part of an overall commitment to wellness, focus, and discipline throughout the year.
But, a Dry January—or year-long sobriety, for that matter—need not lead to deprivation. There are now flavorful, even healthy, options that allow you to drink while avoiding the damage. These include sparkling beverages containing adaptogens (these were discussed in Seminal's November 2023 post) for reducing stress or those blended with nootopics—organic or pharmaceutical cognitive enhancers (Brody, 2022)—that optimize brain function. Seminal will also release enhanced, low-alcohol wines—targeting chronic diseases including diabetes and cancers—and non-alcoholic drinks that pair with sober-focused, and health-conscious lifestyles. Aside from non-alcoholic beverages, consider substituting drinking with activities that offer the downtime, engagement, or connection that often accompany alcohol. Take a few moments to listen to your favorite music. You can do a quick workout. Get together with friends for board games or gaming (no-alcohol provided). Of course, you can take time for yourself, meditate or reflect. The pull of alcohol is not only what a drink gives us, but what surrounds it. There are plenty of other sources of that satisfaction.
Sober Curious is also an Option
Then again, swearing off alcohol may not be your objective. A Dry January may be an ingress, introduction to a Moist Year—one of lesser or occasional alcohol consumption—or a time to take stock of your relationship with alcohol, and work on better managing it. You might just want to see if sobriety is really right for you. These conditions all fall under the "sober-curious" status. Becoming sober is a significant step, marking a pivotal transition; so, taking a measured approach may be more suitable. You can start with smaller servings, perhaps only a quarter or half of the glass (without a refill). No need to start with a full month at first; try being sober for a few days or a week. At the end of the period, you can decide whether to recommit, and take it from there. And, you don't have to embark on such a momentous goal at the beginning of the year; you can wait till later—maybe a "Sober October"—as you assess how dedicated you are to embracing sobriety, or build your will to lead a healthier lifestyle, for which sobriety is a cornerstone. The overarching goal should be a healthy relationship with alcohol—moderate drinking or no consumption at all, if alcohol proves an irrepressible temptation. Feel free to customize, setting a schedule and routine that fits your lifestyle and goals. There are many paths to sobriety. You just want to make sure you're prioritizing your health and wellbeing with each step.
Benefits of Sobriety
Even if you're just exploring sobriety for now, there are proven benefits of it. Along with heightening immune functioning and reducing risks of liver disease, digestive issues, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers (including breast, mouth, throat, liver, colon, and esophageal cancers) (Guarnotta, 2023), reducing or eliminating intake can decrease anxiety and depression (Guarnotta, 2023; Sandhurst, 2024). Those overcoming their alcohol addiction also report a greater sense of confidence, wellbeing, and control (Guarnotta, 2023) allowing them to reconnect with their families while forming newer, deeper connections (Sandhurst, 2024). However, the greatest gift may be the opportunity for intimate, self-understanding. As was mentioned above, alcohol can be an alluring mask, allowing you to avoid the "truths" and issues that are too scary, or ugly, to face—about yourself and your experiences. Sobriety strips the cover away, forcing you to tear through the scars and finally defuse the tinderboxes. "Who am I, really?" More importantly, "Who do I need to be?" These are the questions with which you are confronted, and—to attain your best, sober, self—you must answer. Finding the answers may take years; it may even take a lifetime. But, those who love you—the ones you should hold close—will be through every phase of the journey.
Commit to Being Your Best Self
The destination of that journey will always be becoming your best self. A Dry January can be part of that path, and coincides with the time we resolve—make resolutions—to be our better selves. We'll go beyond losing weight (recent pharmaceuticals or Seminal's detox options will help you) and saving money (though this is always important) and other hackneyed pledges. Let's be thoughtful and intentional, placing ourselves at the center. Here are some ideas:
- Always stay open (you likely haven't even thought of the best)
- Take each challenge as an opportunity; you'll be better after you conquer.
- Cherish the three Ps: people, planet, and principle.
- Know the Source always provides strength
- Only make time for those who would give time to you
- Go outside your comfort zone; you'll be amazed by your new boundaries!
- Pinpoint the 3 things you need most—and never compromise
- Help whenever you can
- Each moment, nurture your whole self: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually
- Take a step to leave the planet better than you found it
No matter what commitment you make, the key is actually realizing your resolutions. Next, we'll talk about staying focused.
How to Stay Focused
There's a reason why resolutions are frequently broken by February: life gets in the way. The key then is finding ways to pursue your resolutions, even amid the surprises and setbacks. First, begin and end your day reminding yourself of your goals, so you stay oriented toward pursuing them. Second, set daily and weekly schedules, or agendas, for pursuing your goals. For instance, spend 10 minutes each day (maybe after work) practicing new Japanese words, then engage in a 30- to 45-minute conversation every Saturday with a tutor or an AI to build your fluency. Third, surround yourself with true companions and confidantes, who will challenge and cheer you on. They'll call you out when it's needed and will push you to go further, even when there are obstacles. They can ride you hard when you're underperforming, but will hoist you up at the finish line. Fourth, celebrate every victory—the $100 saved, the five pounds lost, the 15-minute workout you squeezed in, etc. And, those confidantes will help with this too. Fifth, regularly assess your progress. This can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The progress checks not only allow you to determine if you're on track to achievement, they also offer opportunities to make necessary changes, ensuring you'll meet your goals. Yes, those who fulfill their aims are persistent; but, they are also adaptable, readily taking paths that will get them closer to their goals (even if they deviate from plans). Maybe losing 50 lb this year is a bit too ambitious; let's go for 30 and reducing the BMI by five points instead. Maybe you can't buy the house yet; let's focus on raising the credit score 40 points in the next six months and becoming a homeowner in the next 18. I might not be able to take that destination trip and get some much-deserved downtime; but, I can take a couple of hours a week for myself—through painting, writing, reading, music, etc.—to reflect, reinvigorate, and reinspire. Progress always holds promise. By nurturing that promise, you'll retain your focus.
Resolve to Pursue Your Passions and Principles
Dry or damp, maintain the momentum to be your best self beyond January. The ideal way is always staying true to what's important to you—despite the pressures or setbacks—and never folding. Remind yourself, multiple times daily, about your non-negotiables--at least three of them, if we follow resolution #7--and continuously plan, and, ultimately, implement ways to honor them. Even during the inevitable crisis, you'll find that these non-negotiables, your principles, are what can get you through. Let's say you're laid off. Yes, you're thinking about how you'll pay your rent or mortgage, or support your family. But, one of your principles has always been expressing your creativity. This may be the opportunity for you to work on your designs, becoming a creator on TikTok or YouTube, or even joining with your friend to start your own design business. Remember resolution #2: take each challenge as an opportunity. With this step, you'd be pursuing both your passion and your principle—the only resolution you ever need to make. With each critical decision, ask yourself these three questions: 1) Which principle is this honoring?; 2) Am I passionate about this?; and 3) Will this allow me to be true to myself and my purpose? If you can't answer yes to all three, it's not worth taking. The decision will not always be popular; actually, some may even dismiss, or deride, the step you're taking. That's irrelevant. All you need to please is yourself and the Source. This may seem selfish; but, the better you are to yourself, the better you can be to the people around you, and to the planet. Through your Dry Januarys or your Sober Octobers, pursue the principle, and chase the promise. You'll turn your best year into your best life,
Ballard, J. (2016). What is Dry January? British Journal of General Practice, 66(642), 32. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp16X683173
Brody, B. (2022). What are nootropics? https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/features/nootropics-smart-drugs-overview
Guarnotta, E. (2023). Sober curious: What does it mean, and what are the benefits? https://www.goodrx.com/well-being/substance-use/sober-curious-movement
Robert, Y. (2023). Dry January is becoming a lifestyle. https://www.forbes.com/sites/yolarobert1/2023/01/31/dry-january-is-becoming-a-lifestyle/
Sandhurst, A.T. (2024). Major factors of sustaining recovery after relapse from a substance abuse disorder. https://scholarworks.lib.csusb.edu/etd/1831/
The Good Trade. (2023). 15 best non-alcoholic drinks for a relaxing alternative (2023). https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/non-alcoholic-drinks/