Whether it’s a desire to be healthier, recover from the holidays, or reduce overall alcohol consumption, choosing a one month sobriety challenge to abstain from alcohol during January is beginning to catch on. A Morning Consult poll conducted in January 2021 found that 13 percent of respondents in the U.S. were participating in “Dry January,” up from 11 percent in previous years. Will that number keep rising in 2022?

People drink alcohol for a variety of reasons, including to make social connections and manage stress. More recently, it’s not uncommon to hear people admit to drinking more during the pandemic. Read on to find out if participating in Dry January might be enticing to you.

Ever thought about some of the negative effects alcohol can have? Here are some benefits that may come with Dry January:

• Better Decision-Making

• Better Sleep

• More Energy

• Clearer Head

• Healthier Liver

• Lower Blood Glucose

• Weight Loss

• Better Skin

Thinking of trying it? Here are some ways to approach Dry January:

Plan Ahead. My mother always says, “plan your work and work your plan.” You definitely don’t want to get caught without a plan on this one. Determine what the hardest part will be for you and how you intend to tackle it. Use this list to plan for the resources and people you will turn to for support.

Track Your Progress. Type or handwrite a log for January. Begin with why you are going dry and what you expect to occur. Each day track how you feel, physically and mentally. It’s also a good idea to include other items like social outings, drink choices, exercise, weight, and how you filled your time to see how it changes.

Determine Your New Routine. If you like to come home every day after work and have a drink on your favorite sofa, then your new routine could be as simple as swapping it out for a non-alcoholic drink on the sofa instead. On the other hand, if you can’t imagine succeeding at that, then replace the entire scenario. Go to another room, or run an errand, visit a friend, or exercise during that time after work.

Replace Your Drink. You may want an alcohol replacement, like non-alcoholic beer, wine, or sparkling wine, or something simple like sparkling water, soda water, or seltzer water with fresh fruit, juice, or herbs. Other options to explore are Kava, Kombucha, Mocktails, Shrubs, and Tea. Healthy non-alcoholic spirits in different flavors are also available, most with some combination of mixed adaptogens, botanicals, nootropics, spices, or fruits. Many have no calories, sweeteners, animal products, or additives, but you’ll need to check product labels. There are plenty of books and blog articles with recipes and advice for the sober curious.

Ask a Friend to Participate. Having a friend or accountability partner in the challenge will be a big asset toward success. Even if they don’t want to be a part, you can still ask them for support.

Exercise More. Now that you have more time (and energy?), try walking, running, swimming, yoga, meditation, biking, playing a sport, or another favorite activity that gets you moving.

Start Something New. This could be a book or a project or a lesson or a hobby. Something that will appeal to the soul and focus the mind.

Stay Away From Tempting People and Places. It’s only 31 days. Enough said.

Get Back on the Wagon. If you find yourself having a drink, don’t give up completely. Nobody’s perfect. Just start fresh the next day with a goal to finish the month strong.

Reflect. Be proud of your accomplishment and think about how you feel physically and emotionally. Read your log from start to finish to see what your challenges were and how you handled them.

Regardless if you decide to stay alcohol-free, reduce your alcohol intake, or return to your former habits, you will have a newfound awareness of your relationship with alcohol and its impact on your health and lifestyle.

This article is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a doctor or treatment center before changing your diet or if you need help managing your alcohol consumption.