How To Do A Dry January (Without Losing The Will To Live)

And without banging on about it to the rest of us

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1 | Understand why you're doing it.

Don't expect miraculous physical and mental changes in four weeks. Sorry. The best way to approach it is from a basic, human instinctive feeling that it must basically be a good idea to give your liver a brief hiatus from the relentless battering it's had over the last 12 months. And that January is the month when you'll be missing out the least.

2 | There are bona fide health benefits though. Memorize them.

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If you stick to it you are very likely to experience at least some of the following: lose weight, have clearer skin, reduce your sugar intake, reduce liver fat and cholesterol, whilst improving sleep, concentration and work performance. And there'll be no hangovers.

3 | Take advantage of not having hangovers. And feel free to be smug about it.

This is one of the only main benefits of giving up booze for a month, and it's one that noone can dispute. So pencil in that task/project/hobby/run you've been meaning to start for next Saturday morning. And remind yourself that you would never be doing this if you'd gone to the pub last night.

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4 | Get the balance right between going off-grid and still being sociable.

Initially it makes sense to limit the exposure you have to pubs, bars, cocktail parties, stag dos just to give yourself a glimmer of a chance. However, to successfully maintain it for a month you're going to need human interaction. You can meeting friends in non-threatening venues like cafés, cinemas and for brunches instead of dinners. But by the second half of the month, that old-fashioned willpower will either be revving up or running out. It's up to you.

5 | Have a go-to repertoire of non-alcoholic drinks.

A man can't survive on tap water alone. It's just too depressing and martyrish to sustain in what is already the most depressing month of the year. At home, try jazzing things up by bulk buying some San Pellegrino with a slice of lemon. For the pub, how about dusting off the classic orange juice and lemonade? And for the weekend at home, fool your tiny mind by mixing up a mocktail. You can never go wrong with ginger beer, lime and mint.

6 | Find a partner to share your pain.

Buddying up with someone you live with will definitely improve your chances of sustaining things beyond the first weekend. And neither of you will want to be lame enough to bring the other one down with them. In theory.

7 | Don't bang on about dry January to everyone you meet as if you're training for an ultra-marathon.

It's not such an impressive feat that you need to involve all your friends and tell every stranger you meet. See it more as a personal, private pain that is well within your capabilities and may just help to remind you that you are in full control of your drinking. 

8 | Have a target in mind for the money you'll save.

You will save money, almost inevitably, unless you replace drinking with a major online poker addiction. And depending on your previous habits, you could be saving several hundred quid. See it as a fund for a weekend break in Seville, Budapest or anywhere else you've been meaning to visit. Buy a city-guide, do some recon, even book the flights and hotel. Worst-case, the research will distract you from booze for a few sacred hours.

9 | Ultimately, be prepared to watch a lot of television.

When all's said and done, you're going to be visiting the far reaches of your Netflix favourites list. And in the coldest, skintest, wettest month of them all, there are far worst fates than this.

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