Dry Jan blues explained as expert says giving up is good for your mental health

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As Dry January enters its third week a health expert has shared their top tips on how to stay on the wagon, as statistics show most people will have given up by now.

Giving up alcohol for January is an incredibly popular New Years resolution and many people give it a go to save money and look after their health, but most of those give up in the first week.

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Health expert Andrea Taylor, from Priory Healthcare and My Possible Self, has now shared her top tips to help people change their relationship with alcohol going forward.

She said the health benefits, both physical and mental, are worth striving for – as in the long term excessive alcohol consumption can lead to anxiety, tension and depression.

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Dry Jan blues explained as expert says giving up is good for your mental health
© Supplied Health expert Andrea Taylor

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Set goals and stick to them

Andrea said: “Set yourself daily and weekly limits. Remember that the recommended weekly allowance of alcohol is 14 units, which equates to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.

“Also set a budget and to stop yourself going over it, take a fixed amount of cash out with you to spend.”

Dry Jan blues explained as expert says giving up is good for your mental health
© Getty Images/iStockphoto Pouring beer down the kitchen sink drain in anticipation of Dry January and sobriety

Block out alcohol-free days

Andrea said: “By doing this it will be easier to get away from drinking on the majority of days in a week if this is you. Write out a detailed plan for the times when you are mostly likely to drink and make sure it includes activities that will take up all your concentration.

“Whether that’s places and events where you typically drink a lot, such as weddings, holidays or just a general Friday night out, create a plan to help you stop drinking so much. Set yourself an alcohol limit, order a taxi to arrive at a specific time and take a friend along who will support you.”

Dry Jan blues explained as expert says giving up is good for your mental health
© Laurence Soulez/Getty Images Over half of Brits are likely to give up on Dry January by the second week

Keep yourself busy

Andrea said: “Keeping yourself busy can help to remove temptations to drink. What activity have you always wanted to try? Now is the perfect time to give it a go. Also, see what alcohol-free activities your friends have always wanted to do, and suggest going together.”

Keep a journal and track your drinking

Andrea said: “Write down when you drink, what you drank and the reasons why you drank. This can help you to recognise how much you actually drink and if you regularly drink above the recommended guidelines of 14 units a week. There are plenty of great tools and resources out there to do this such as My Possible Self’s free mental health app. It features a mood tracker as well as a ‘Drinking Safely’ guided series to help you identify and address your habits.

“You’ll start to recognise patterns in your behaviour and underlying reasons that cause you to reach for alcohol, and once you have identified patterns and triggers, it’s very much so about implementing strategies that can help you manage this in the future.

“For example, do you reach for a glass of wine when you feel stressed? If so, what healthier stress-busting techniques could you use instead? Or do you always find that you drink too much when you’re with a certain friend? Organise an alcohol-free activity when you next plan to see each other.”

Swap your alcohol

Andrea said: “When you order a drink, go for a small wine, a single measure of spirits or a bottle of beer instead of a pint. Also, swap your usual drink for something with a lower strength.”

Keep an alcohol-free house

Andrea said: “Keeping a ‘dry’ house can remove temptation at a time when you are trying to figure out how to stop drinking so much. Let your friends and family know that you are cutting down or stopping drinking, so that they don’t bring alcohol around or put any undue pressure on you.”

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Address the reasons why you drink

Andrea said: “If you have been drinking because of your job, relationship, stress or anxiety, low self-esteem or the past, take the time to think about what you can do to address this.”

And finally, think about the benefits!

Andrea said: “When you stop drinking alcohol, there are numerous benefits. It frees up your time, improves your health, helps you to sleep better and saves you money!”

My Possible Self is a free NHS endorsed global mental health app which provides holistic and engaging tools to support and improve the mental wellbeing of all. To find out more, visit www.mypossibleself.com

Do you have a story to share? We’d love to hear all about it. Get in touch via yourmirror@mirror.co.uk

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