ACUK's Top Five Tips For Maintaining Your Dry January Gains

Alcohol Guidance

Softer skin, feeling fresher, clearer head, looking trim - the list of Dry January benefits goes on. But if you’re one of the thousands of people that have enjoyed the benefits that your dry month has brought along, you might be keen to maintain these gains. So, if you want those great Dry January benefits long into 2024, take a look at our five top tips to help you stay on top of your goals.

Know clearly what you're working towards

First things first, it’s time to make a game plan. Could you write down your intentions for your next goal? Maybe you could share these intentions with someone to help keep you accountable? Try not to be vague and loose in your goal, as this can lead to a slippery slope. For example if your goal is to moderate, start to define what that looks like each week in terms of number of units and what days you will drink on.

Use S.M.A.R.T goal setting

Ever heard of S.M.A.R.T goals? It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based and can serve as a handy little reminder to help guide your goal setting once Dry January is over. If you’re still not sure how to go about S.M.A.R.T goal setting you could always use Try Dry to help you. The ‘Progress’ section of the app allows you to set clear, customisable goals such as staying dry on some days of the week or limiting the weekly units you drink. It also allows you to track your progress over time in the ‘Charts’ section.

Be a 'curious observer'

We admit this one sounds a bit strange but it’s really just about stepping back and observing the moment when faced with an urge to drink. What are you noticing at the time, can you label what you are feeling, can you identify the thought? Remember that urges to drink are just thoughts, and we don’t need to act on every thought we have. We can acknowledge it is there and move on. Approach this with an open mind, and without judgement – that way you can carry the learning from Dry January into the rest of the year.

Drink in a mindful way

If you are planning to return to drinking, then maybe you can apply some mindful drinking techniques. When we drink in a mindful way, we are actively paying attention rather than going through the motions. Here we pay attention to:

  • The pace of our drinking – can we slow this down? Perhaps we can make the drink last longer?
  • How much we consume – can we set a limit? Or use alcohol-free ‘spacers’?
  • Make our decisions with conscious thought – Ask yourself: do I really need to have this drink? Is it serving me at all?

By trying out these more mindful techniques, here the decision to drink is not glossed over or automatically made. The focus is on observing how you feel, your thoughts and your responses to what is going on around you when drinking.

Staying connected to other people

Leaning on the support of like-minded people who are going through the same experiences as you can really help when it comes to staying on track. It could be an online group such as the Dry January and Beyond Facebook group, or a forum more local to you or more tailored to your interests. Staying connected to others in this way will keep your commitment at the forefront of your mind. Being part of such groups also allows you to keep the sense of community that you may have experienced during Dry January beyond the 31-day timeframe.

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