Make the start of 2022 meaningful by trying something different: Dry January. If you've tried it before, make it stick this time. The pandemic has lasted longer than we thought it would, and while it certainly brought stress, it might have also spurred you to drink more. Throw in New Year's and the holiday season, and your alcohol intake might be higher than you'd like. See how limiting the amount you drink at the start of a new year can be a great way to reset and start off 2022 on a great note.
- Heart health. Drinking less can lower your chance of experiencing atrial fibrillation, heart failure, ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular risks.
- Liver health. Excessive alcohol consumption can wear down your liver and its ability to function properly, but abstaining from alcohol for just 30 days can help to restore the liver and its functions.
- Weight loss. You may not think a couple drinks can do much harm, but alcohol is high in calories and can make it difficult to make healthy food choices. You might be surprised how taking a break from drinking can help you lose unhealthy weight.
- Sleep quality. While small amounts of alcohol can decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, excessive drinking can disrupt your sleep pattern and impact your body’s ability to sleep deeply.
- Memory. Drinking less can improve your short-term and long-term memory.
- Depression and anxiety. Levels of depression and anxiety have been at an all-time high since the start of the pandemic. If you've found yourself drinking more as a result, it can actually be making it worse. Drinking less can improve your overall mood and help minimize side effects of drinking that might be making mental hardships worse.
- Reaction time. Your motor skills, including your reaction time, is impaired when you consume alcohol. Abstaining from it can improve, heal and keep your reaction time and motor skills at a normal range. Energy. Drinking can make you drowsy and lethargic. Drinking less can help you keep your energy levels up.
While cutting out drinks for one month won't just help you save on alcohol itself — it can also cut down on food costs and even medical expenses. If you go out with friends three times a month and limit yourself to two drinks each night (approximately $20), that's about $720 a year. Add on food and that number increases quickly.
Embrace healthier habits in 2022. Try Dry January or personalize it to your unique health needs. At El Camino Health, your primary care physician functions as your first-line of defense against illness and poor health, so consider getting a wellness check at the start of the year. Our primary care providers act as your guide to the world-class network of specialists and services.
This article first appeared in the January 2022 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.