January is the time of year when we start to consider all the changes we should have made to our lifestyles last January. Buying more books to add to our reading lists, putting in those extra steps, or even... taking a break from the booze? Surely not.
Let's face it, we're a nation of drinkers. While most of us have heard of Dry January, the thought of going alcohol free for a month can seem almost impossible. Yet, going alcohol free for just one month has been proven to have a serious amount of health benefits.
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Although New Year's resolutions always seem like a great idea to begin with, we often struggle to find the motivation to stick to the goals we've set ourselves for the year ahead. How often have we said 'new year, new me' only to go back to the same old habits?
The best tips for Dry January as told by Closer readers
That's why we've asked our followers for their best tips on staying dry for January, including advice from none other than Rachel Lugo from Real Housewives of Cheshire. We've got to say, we definitely needed it.
1. Stay in your bedroom and hibernate
Real Housewives of Cheshire's Rachel Lugo suggests staying in your bedroom and refusing to come out for the entirety of the month. Avoid any form of social interaction at all costs and enter a phase of hibernation to make sure Dry January goes off without a hitch.
Honestly, we're pretty sure this is the only advice that's 100% effective with a guaranteed chance of success.
2. Hide all the alcohol in your house
Go totally teetotal by having a clear out of all things alcohol. Everyone knows that the best part of Christmas is receiving enough gin to run your own distillery, so while we imagine this step might be hard after the festive season. One way to stay on track over Dry January is to quite simply LOCK. IT. AWAY.
Literally. Lock it in your shed. Out of sight, out of mind.
3. Drink everything in a wine glass
When you're craving a cold spritzer, there's nothing like the sense of personal achievement when you find an alcohol free alternative that you really like. A refreshing lime and soda in your fave wine glass is the perfect way to kick back and relax for the evening.
4. Cuppa teas
An alcohol free alternative, a hot cuppa and making sure to reward yourself at times are all important parts of keeping up with the Dry January challenge. If you're REALLY struggling, consider avoiding environments that encourage drinking at all. Avoiding people who can't respect your boundaries, question your decision to stay sober, or try to pressure you to drink are also a must.
5. A pamper session
Treating yourself to a pamper session, a cosy night in and a nice hot drink (especially a hot Vimto if you're from certain parts of t'North) is a fab way to stay focused on the goal. Going alcohol free takes a lot of determination, so reward yourself in all the ways you can.
Remind yourself of why you're taking part in the challenge and indulge in some much needed self care. A face mask, a hot bath and some trashy TV can take your mind off ANYTHING. Trust us on this one.
If you're looking to add some fun to ditching the drink, these mocktail recipes will help see you through Dry January. Get involved and have a go at making your very own mockjito and that way you can still join in on all the fun while staying sober.
6. Paint your house
Distracting yourself from how long it's been since you last had a glass of wine can come in the form of doing some spring cleaning around the house. After all, being productive and investing in your space really does go hand in hand with welcoming in a new year.
Why not freshen up areas of your home that need some special attention with a coat of paint on a Sunday afternoon? There'll be a sense of accomplishment that you've managed to get a good job done, and you can always reward yourself by cracking open a few cans of your fave non-alcoholic bevs.
Check out: The best non-alcohol and low alcohol drinks
The best non-alcohol and low alcohol drinks slider
Celtic Soul Distilled Non-Alcoholic Dark Spirit
Thought teetotallers couldn't enjoy a rum-free dark and stormy? Well, you're wrong. This gorgeously spiced dark spirit from Celtic Soul is the perfect non-alcoholic replacement for rum, and tastes yummy even just poured over ice.
Bottlegreen Bramble Presse 750ml
Elderflower cordial is a mainstay in any non-alcoholic drink, but its not always the right pick for a festive tipple. Elderflower king Bottlegreen has released this wintery new presse that'll look lovely in fluted glasses with a few cranberries floating on top.
Nosecco Alcohol Free 75cl
You don't have to feel left out of the cork-popping with this fabulous sparkling Nosecco. It tastes light and bubbly with notes of white grapes and flowers. Delish, tbh.
Sea Buckthorn 500ml
If you love a good G&T, you'll love this non-alcoholic spirit by Bax Botanics. Fragrant herbs, berries and Seville oranges create a complex, bittersweet fruit profile in this no-sugar, no-sweetener drink. Serve with tonic, ice and a slice of fresh orange.
Lervig No Worries alcohol free beer
Tasteless alcohol-free beer is a thing of the past with this tasty, refreshing pale ale from Lervig. The Norwegian beer has a pleasant, malty taste and the can wouldn't look out of place in a trendy bar.
Jukes Cordialities Tasting Box
This alcohol-free tasting box is more a gift than a drinks and nibbles option. It contains nine 30ml bottles of alcohol-free cordials that make a delicious replacement for wine, as well as in-depth tasting notes.
Pentire Adrift 70cl
Another excellent choice for gin-lovers, this distilled, botanical, non-alcoholic spirit tastes clean and zesty. It's infused with rock samphire, sage, citrus and Cornish sea salt - all fine pairings for a plain tonic and some strips of citrus fruit.
Lucky Saint - 12 X 330ml Bottles
This boujee-looking low alcohol beer is a firm favourite among non-drinkers. It's made from pilsner malt, giving it a lovely fresh taste not dissimilar to your classic alcoholic pils.
Light & Zesty, Caleño Drinks
Transport yourself on hols with this light and zesty blend of tropical, citrus and spice botanicals. The non-alcoholic spirit also features the unique golden Inca berry and is inspired by the rhythms and colours of Columbia. Simply pour over tonic and ice, sit back and dream of holidays.
Fluère floral blend Non-Alcoholic spirit, 70cl
If you're looking for something that'll look nice in your drinks cabinet (or shelf, trolley etc...) then Fluère is the answer to your non-alcoholic prayers. This gin alternative is infused with coriander, juniper, lavender and lime peel for a complex taste with that unique alcoholic bite, without the booze.
CleanCo CleanGin 1.2%
The brainchild of Made in Chelsea's Spencer Matthews, CleanCo creates delicious, full-flavoured alternatives to your favourite full-strength spirits. There is a range of flavours available, but you can't beat a classic G&T. Crisp juniper, balanced with aromatic botanicals, giving it a wonderful cloudy appearance. It's delicious with a light tonic, lemon, and fresh mint leaves to garnish.
Shloer White Non Alcoholic Bubbly Sparkling Juice Drink 750ml
We all know Shloer is the OG of non-alcoholic drinks, it's got that classic white and red grape juice taste and enough bubbles to make it feel special. Now, non-drinkers can get in on the cork-popping action with this extra-special bubbly bottle.
Savyll Tasting Pack - Alcohol-Free Cocktails (Case of 6 x 250ml Cans)
If you or your non-drinking guests are more from the cocktail persuasion, you'll need to stock up on some pretty good mocktails. This tasting pack from Savyll contains all the classics - a mojito, bellini and a g&t for your sipping pleasure.
Nine Elms No.18 Bottling Note
This non-alcoholic tipple gets its name from Nine Elms in London, where it's produced. No.18 is the first in a series of releases from the distillery specially designed to complement food - perfect for Christmas dinner. The idea is to sip the botanical drink neat alongside your meal, but a splash of tonic would do nicely too.
Lyre's Non-Alcoholic Italian Spritz
Non-drinkers don't have to miss out on trendy spritzy drinks (Aperol, we're looking at you...). This Italian tipple has that classic bittersweet orange taste, perfect for pairing with some Nosecco and soda water with a big wedge of fresh orange.
The best tips for Dry January as told by the Closer team
Some of us at Closer have tried our hand at staying sober for Dry January, and since we've been there and done it, we thought we'd offer our own advice to help see you through those more challenging times...
@marianna_manson says: 'Meeting up during the day, or choosing something that requires a clear head will take boozing out of the equation and could make things a little easier.'
Having done Dry January last year and sharing her experiences with skipping the sauce in her Dry January diaries, Mariana shares some of her tips in Dry January Diaries: will the pub be a thing of the past?
Mariana suggests that once you stop seeing the pub as the automatic setting for all your social interactions, 'you're forced to think outside the box.' Meeting up with a friend for a bit of shopping or a coffee date might help when you feel those cravings kick in, but she also suggests trying new activities that you hadn't already considered, especially something that requires a clear head.
@carldavidsmith says: 'Owning your decision and not feeling the need to justify it to people, and being confident in your response to any nay-sayers.'
As well as being confident in your decision and not feeling the need to justify going alcohol-free, Carl suggests listening to podcasts like Sober Awkward and reading 'quit lit' material like The Sober Girl Society Handbook and The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober to make a positive start to Dry Jan.
If you've ever woken up feeling anxious, or cringing with embarrassment, about something you did
Going sober will make you happier, healthier, wealthier, slimmer and sexier. Despite all of these
@hellogeorgeterry says: 'I love ticking the 'stayed dry' box on the Dry January app, it reacts with a delightful burst of confetti and a 'congratulations'. Simple, but it works for me
George's suggestion is to download the Try Dry app which acts as an incentive to keep up with your staying dry streak.
'I like that it shows you how many dry days you've done in a streak (not the nude kind, unless that's your sober bag.)' she says. Seeing how far you've come can definitely be a sense of accomplishment, and ticking the 'stayed dry' box can give you a real sense of satisfaction. Oh, yeah 😎
@luceeeeesmith says: 'Nominate yourself as the designated driver!'
The role of the designated driver gives you a level of responsibility to remain sober, because everyone else's evening is relying on it.
Lucy suggests that being the designated driver is a fool proof way to remain alcohol free, because even if people initially try to pressure you into drinking, at the end of the night, they're just grateful to be getting a lift. Genius, if you ask us.
What's Dry January and when did it start?
The first official Dry January campaign happened in 2013 with around 4,000 people signing up to take part. It came about with lead campaigner, Emily Robinson giving up alcohol through the month of January 2011 in order to train for a marathon she ran that year. After joining the team at Alcohol Change UK, the campaign would soon become a reality.
Since then, it's grown in popularity with the majority of people having heard of it. It's been backed by Public Health England, the NHS and local authorities openly voicing their support. Just last year, around 130,000 people signed up to take part making it 'the best Dry January so far,' according to the charity.
Why should I do Dry January?
Research supporting Dry January has shown that there's a number of health benefits from taking part in the campaign. Scientists, medical professionals and experts have all weighed in with their research to suggest that Dry January has a positive impact on physical and mental well being.
The University of Sussex concluded that those who got involved with Dry January now drink more healthily all year round and are still drinking less six months after the challenge.
Further research from Royal Free Hospital showed that staying sober for just one month means an improvement in sleep pattern, concentration, blood sugar level, blood pressure and in the liver.
If you're interested in finding out more about Dry January, you can read more information here.