Good resolutions at the start of the new year are popular – four out of ten Germans made something of a resolution last year, as a survey commissioned by the health insurance company DAK shows. The representative survey was carried out by Forsa. 1006 people in Germany were surveyed in mid-November. Most Germans want to spend more time with their family and friends (65 percent). But the desire to drink less alcohol is also on the list of resolutions for around one in five people. For more and more people, the start of a life with less alcohol is marked by “Dry January” – i.e. abstaining from alcohol for four weeks.

Starting the new year sober is an idea that comes from Great Britain – hence the English name “Dry January”. The British non-profit organization “Alcohol Change UK” initiated the challenge at the beginning of the year a few years ago. More and more countries are now following suit – in Germany there was the first official Dry January campaign in 2023, organized by the Blue Cross.

Especially when you’re in company, it can be tempting to have a beer or a round of cocktails after work. If you follow a few tips, you still have a good chance of not giving up halfway through.

Write down your intention/say it out loud

It sounds banal, but if we write down that we want to take part in Dry January or even tell friends, it makes the whole project seem much more real. And it’s not so easy to chicken out once you’ve announced your plan to the world.

Find a Dry January buddy

Sometimes it’s not that easy to carry out a new project alone. It feels like you’re the only person in the world who had the crazy idea of ​​starting the year with such a challenge. If you find a girlfriend or boyfriend and give up alcohol together at the beginning of the year, it will be easier for two reasons: on the one hand, there is a fellow sufferer who you can tell why you would like to drink a beer now, and on the other hand, it falls through the social obligation harder to simply throw in the towel.

Make a game out of it

If you turn the alcohol-free month into a kind of competition, you might have more fun. The British organization Alcohol Change UK offers a free app for iOS and Android that can accompany you through the month without alcohol. However, those abstaining at the beginning of the year must first register with their email address, name and country. You can then set personal goals, take a quiz on alcohol consumption and record how much the abstinence from alcohol has already saved your wallet.

Drink a delicious drink

If the craving for an Aperol Spritz or a good cocktail becomes too great, non-alcoholic counterparts offer a real alternative. The range of non-alcoholic gin, wine, Aperol etc. is now quite large. Decent non-alcoholic mocktails are also on the menu in more and more bars – and no one is forced to choke down an indefinable sweet drink.

Realize the positive effects of abstaining from alcohol

A study from 2018 published in the “British Medical Journal” looked at the positive effect of abstaining from alcohol for a month with 94 participants and a control group of 47 people. Even the short break lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes and lowers cholesterol levels. It should be noted, however, that research was only carried out with a small number of participants and the effect was examined on healthy people who consume more than the recommended amount of alcohol. In addition, 800 Dry January participants noted in a 2018 study that they had better skin, weight loss, more energy, better concentration and better sleep.

Instead of drinking alcohol, start a hobby

Sometimes it just helps to distract yourself. So if you feel the need for a beer at your favorite pub, you could try a new hobby instead. Have you always wanted to play the guitar? Take a dance class? Join a basketball club? Then now is exactly the right time to get started!

Remember that giving up will also bring something in the long run

Anyone who abstains from alcohol for four weeks in January appears to have healthier drinking habits afterwards. At least this is the conclusion reached by a study from the University of Sussex. The more than 4,000 Dry January participants also reported increased well-being.

And: It takes between 21 and 60 days for a new behavior to become a habit. If we assume the ideal case, a new habit can be established by abstaining from alcohol for a short period of time – not drinking alcohol or drinking less alcohol.