New Year’s resolutions can feel impossible to maintain. Research from the University of Scranton suggests that only 19% of people who come up with goals actually reach them long-term, and 23% can’t even keep up with their resolutions for a single week.
Given those abominable records, it may be time to set our bars lower this January and make modest improvements on ourselves instead of diving right into a complete identity overhaul. Thankfully, there is one popular resolution for adults that entails less commitment than major lifestyle changes — and new research indicates the impacts can still be huge.
Known as “Dry January,” adults across the world resolve not to drink alcohol for 31 days — or the entirety of the first month of the year. The initiative is seen as one way for people to get their drinking under control and start out the year focused.
And though an alcohol-free month may sound daunting, it’s much less of a task than resolutions such as working out three times a week from now until infinity and beyond. In fact, Dry January is just about over when almost two-thirds of us are still meeting our resolution goals.
Meanwhile, recent research out of the University of Sussex has found that there are huge health and financial benefits to ditching booze for a month. Here are some of the more critical findings.
Health and wellness
Last year, Richard de Visser at the University of Sussex led a project that surveyed people who had participated in Dry January during 2018. After three self-completed online surveys upon registering, in February, and in August, he found that one month of sobriety had a slew of positive health effects.
Seven in 10 people reported generally improved health after participating in Dry January, while 71% said they were sleeping better. 67% — or more than two-thirds — had more energy, and more than half said their skin improved.
Avoiding alcohol also helped a majority of Dry January participants attain another common New Year’s resolution: 58% said they lost weight.
In August — months after Dry January ended — participants were still being more tempered in their alcohol consumption. According to Visser’s research, people drank on average one fewer day per week and drank less when they did indulge. They also reduced their frequency of drunkenness per month.
That’s likely because 31 days without alcohol made people reconsider their drinking habits. 82% of respondents said they had thought more deeply about their relationship to alcohol, and 80% felt more in control of their drinking after Dry January.
There’s also a pretty major financial incentive to see Dry January through. 88% of survey respondents — or nearly nine out of 10 people — said they saved money because of the month-long resolution.
57% also reported better concentration, which likely meant better on-the-job performance for those in the workforce.
So instead of coming up with a long list of ways to make ourselves an ideal human, maybe it’s enough to take one small step toward a better self. Not drinking can make our skin glow, our bank accounts grow, and our drinking habit slow. Sounds like a pretty good New Year’s resolution to me.