As 2024 takes shape, many of you may be thinking about how to turn your resolutions into reality. Whether that means honing in on a new skill or hobby, tackling a to-do list, or stepping up your self-care, the new year offers a great opportunity to set goals and start afresh.
According to a recent survey, most Brits will be focusing their resolutions on improving their personal wellbeing. Losing weight (35%), eating healthier (32%), and getting more exercise (30%) are the frontrunners, closely followed by taking better care of mental health and resilience (21%).
However, with stopping or reducing drinking only averaging at around 12%, it seems that people are not prioritising cutting down this destructive habit that negatively impacts mental, physical, and financial wellbeing.
In the UK alone, the overconsumption of alcohol kills 70 people each day and costs the economy between £27 and £52 billion. 17 million working days are lost every year due to alcohol-related sickness, and around half of the police force’s workload stems from issues caused by alcohol. During peak periods, 40% of ambulance time is spent on alcohol-related incidents.
In 2021, an estimated 260 deaths were caused by collisions where at least one driver was over the legal limit. Within that same timeframe, 6,740 drink-drive casualties were reported – an increase of 4% since 2020.
But the risks don’t stop there. When consuming excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period of time, the chance of developing chronic diseases and health problems becomes significantly heightened. This can include heart and liver disease, stroke, digestive problems, and various cancers such as breast, mouth, throat, oesophageal, liver, colon, and rectal.
Heavy drinking can also put you at risk of a weakened immune system, cognitive problems such as dementia, and mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Once a dependence on alcohol takes hold, you are more likely to encounter personal and professional difficulties that can affect your family, relationships, and employment.
Go Dry This January
If you’re looking to cut down on drinking and enjoy a happier, healthier you in 2024 and beyond, the Dry January initiative is a great place to start. Developed by Alcohol Change UK, Dry January means going drink-free for the whole month to experience a wide range of short and long-term benefits. From feeling brighter and fresher in the morning to enjoying more money in your pocket, research has found that an alcohol-free month can:
- Reduce blood pressure and liver fat
- Decrease the risk of diabetes
- Slash cholesterol levels
- Lessen levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood
- Ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Improve sleep
- Help you learn new skills to manage your drinking habits
Six Tips to Help You Succeed
Now that we know the benefits of cutting down, let’s take a look at how you can get there in a healthy, positive way.
1 – Make a note of your motivations
Whether you choose to go dry for yourself, your partner, your family, your wallet, or your career, it’s important to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Make a note of everything that motivates you to change and keep it with you at all times. When temptation strikes, you can take out your note and feel more inspired to stay on track.
2 – Let others help hold you accountable
By telling those around you that you’re taking part in Dry January, you can increase your chances of success as you’ll have people to hold you accountable. Not only can they encourage you to keep going, but they can also celebrate each milestone throughout the month. Think of it as having your very own cheerleader squad!
3 – Switch to non-alcoholic
At some point or another, we’ve all experienced peer pressure on a night out. Even though you’re trying to stay sober, there’s always one excitable individual who forces a drink in your hand or scoffs at the sight of your soda and lime. By opting for an alcohol-free beer, cider, or spirit, you can enjoy a refreshing drink without having to feel like the odd one out – while also keeping pesky peer pressure at bay!
4 - Try new activities
It can be really easy to fall into the habit of grabbing a drink as a way to socialise. If you and your friends find yourselves frequenting the pub most times you meet, why not suggest something new? You can try out a new restaurant, plan a fun activity, or just go for a nice long walk somewhere scenic. By trying different things, you’ll soon discover that you don’t need alcohol to have a good time.
5 – Don’t fear failure
Throughout Dry January, try to keep in mind that without failure there is no success. Whether you suffer a small slip up or a big binge, it’s all part of the process. Every single day you go without a drink is contributing to your discipline, and research suggests that people who partake in Dry January are likely to be drinking less alcohol in six months’ time - even if they didn’t remain dry for the whole month.
6 – Reach out for support
If you’re struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is here to help. You can access responsive, confidential, and totally independent advice 24/7, 365 days a year through a dedicated telephone helpline, while also benefitting from a range of useful resources and workbooks to help you manage your wellbeing and map out your recovery process.
Take the first step to a new and improved you by joining the Dry January movement today. After all, a clear mind and a healthy body is most definitely worth a “cheers!”