This advice will make a booze-free month much easier.
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If alcohol is part of your weekly routine—think post-work cocktails with co-workers or wine nights with pals—giving up booze for a month sounds daunting, and it can, in fact, be a very challenging feat. However, if you plan to join the growing number of people cutting back on alcohol as part of Dry January and beyond, there are some helpful tips to keep in mind when saying bye to booze, and these pointers can be especially helpful given the current climate.

"This year poses unique challenges in adhering to a Dry January. Stress levels are at an all-time high and many people have been turning to alcohol and food to cope," explains Lori Ryland, PhD, LP, CAADC, CCS, BCBA-D, a licensed clinical psychologist, behavior analyst, and advanced addictions counselor. "There is a higher prevalence of a remote workforce, which means access to alcohol is more available, and alcoholism or even day drinking is more difficult for employers to detect."

Giving up alcohol for any extended period of time has worthwhile benefits that extend beyond whatever may be trendy at the moment. "Even one month of abstinence from alcohol can result in health benefits. Many individuals report better sleep and feelings of well-being," adds Ryland. "One month free from alcohol can result in improvements in liver function and reduced abdominal bloating. Any reduction and abstinence from a substance can result in health benefits, such as receiving higher nutrition when healthy food is consumed rather than liquid calories."

If you're considering Dry January but want pointers before you take the plunge, keep reading for expert-approved tips that ensure your alcohol-free month (or more) will be a rousing success!

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1 Try Dry January with a friend

"I've been doing Dry January every year since 2017. The first year, I engaged in a bet with a friend to keep me accountable, and it worked," says Hilary Sheinbaum, author of The Dry Challenge, which is all about how to ditch booze. "Despite friends asking a million questions, and some attempting to sabotage my efforts, I succeeded and I had someone to come with me to non-boozy activities. I've noticed that after a dry month, I drink significantly less for the rest of the year. According to studies at The University of Sussex, this is typical for Dry January participants."

2 And let your other pals know what you're doing

"People often struggle with Dry January because they haven't told those close to them that they are choosing to do Dry January," says Jacquie Smith, the founder of Little Adapts by Jax, and a Nashville-based holistic nutrition coach. "If you don't vocalize your goals, you won't have the support you need to do it successfully."

RELATED: Curious About the Alcohol-Free Cocktail Movement? Here's What You Should Know

3 Find a new way to cope with stress

"One of the ways you can support yourself through a Dry January is to find a new positive way to cope with daily stress. Often, having a drink may be a way to self-care, so I encourage people to experiment with new activities to reduce stress and/or make themselves feel good. Look at it as an experiment so you can truly be open minded, try new things, and not feel pressure to stick to it if you don't like it," notes Katrina Paraskevopoulos, the founder and CEO of Kat Health Fitness and Eyia Wellness. "For example, take a walk without your phone or with notifications silenced as you transition in your day, meditate, move your body, find a social activity that is not centered around alcohol, try a creative project, or dive into a new book."

4 Toss your alcohol stash

"Did you know your environment can actually help or harm your health goals? When it comes to losing the booze in January, be sure to hide, give away, or throw out any alcohol you have in the house, and stock up on your non-alcoholic drinks," says Amy Davis, RD, LDN. "Out of sight, out of mind really does work!"

5 Find some non-alcoholic drinks you like

Speaking of non-alcoholic drinks, finding one mocktail (or a few) that you like, can determine whether your Dry January is destined to be a success or a complete disaster. "At parties, get-togethers and at home, Dry January participants can occupy their hands with other beverages, foods, and non-alcoholic wines, non-alcoholic beers, non-alcoholic spirits, and non-alcoholic mixed drinks," notes Sheinbaum. "These non-alcoholic varieties are often fewer calories than boozy ones."

RELATED: How to Make Delicious Alcohol-Free Cocktails—and 6 Mocktail Recipes You Need to Try

6 Or make a zero-proof version of your favorite cocktail

"Satisfaction in food and beverage is highly individualized and can change based on your current emotions, company, and environment. So ask yourself first, what sounds good? Once you've decided which flavor profile to go with, mimic the original cocktail recipe as closely as you can," shares Tiffany Godwin, RDN, LD at Connections Wellness Group. "For example, let's say you are joining your friends for a weekend brunch and everyone is drooling over their impressive-looking Bloody Marys, complete with a slice of bacon and fresh celery—easy, ask for it virgin (it's the exact same, minus the booze) and you'll get to join in on the fun without breaking your commitment." 

Godwin adds: "Of course, we eat (and drink) with our eyes first, so make your mocktail visually attractive. Adding the fun garnishes and rims can really put the enjoyment back into your mocktails."

7 Stock up on snacks

"One of the most important things I focus on with Dry January through a nutritional perspective is managing blood sugar. A large percentage of regular drinkers experience blood sugar instability. Along with the fact that alcohol itself can cause erratic blood sugar levels, many people find that cravings for alcohol can actually be the result of having low blood sugar," notes Dr. Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS. "One of my Dry January clients felt she needed the afternoon/evening glass of wine because it gave her the energy to make dinner, do housework, and have energy to play with her kids. When we swapped the afternoon glass of wine out for a protein-rich snack, she received the same energy boost without the zap to her productivity later in the evening. By focusing on protein at every meal and snack, blood sugar can remain balanced throughout the day." 

8 Plan for those cocktail cravings

"When you inevitably crave that after-work cocktail or glass of wine, use it as an opportunity to focus on improving your health in another way," explains Beth Stark, RDN, LDN, a nutrition and culinary communications consultant in Pennsylvania. "For example, take a brisk 15-minute walk, meditate for 10 minutes, snack on crunchy veggies and hummus, or connect with a friend. Small changes in the environment can take your mind off drinking as you ride out the craving and refocus."

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9 Track your progress

"Get a calendar or try an app that allows you to track your non-drinking days," advises Karolina Rzadkowolska, a certified alcohol-free life coach and the author of Euphoric: Ditch Alcohol and Gain a Happier, More Confident You. "Studies show checking off daily wins releases dopamine in the brain and can be a very fulfilling feeling." 

10 Untangle Dry January from hopes of weight loss

"If you go into a sober January with visions of a smaller number on the scale, you may be in for disappointment. That's essentially like any other fad diet or short-lived lifestyle change," explains Cara Harbstreet MS, RD, and the owner of Street Smart Nutrition. "While it is possible that eliminating and avoiding alcohol could reduce your overall caloric intake, attaching that healthful behavior to weight loss positions it as something you can either succeed at (if you lose weight) or fail at (if you don't). And just like other fad diets, it might set you up for a health-harming cycle of 'on-a-diet, off-a-diet' with alcohol as a stand-in for food."

11 Picture what it would feel like to give in

Rzadkowolska is also a fan of playing out certain scenarios in your head, as this can help you remember why you set that goal in the first place. "When drinking sounds alluring in the moment, go through the entire experience of drinking in your head. Would you wake up the next day feeling refreshed and motivated? Or tired and unwell? Would you feel proud of yourself? Or let down?" she asks. "This trick allows you to stop yourself and remember all the negative effects of alcohol that led you to do Dry January in the first place."

RELATED: A Non-Alcoholic Wine Guide to Prepare for Dry January and Beyond

12 Prepare for possible slip-ups 

"If you catch yourself having a sip or even a glass of alcohol, don't punish yourself by giving up on your entire progress," shares Jay Cowin, ASYSTEM's registered nutritionist and Director of Formulations. "Instead, just try again! Wire your mind to believe in yourself."