ST. GEORGE — “Dry January,” in which people give up alcohol throughout the first month of the year, has gained global popularity as people from Britain to the United States have pledged to have nary a drop this month, but is it worth the effort? And more importantly, will it pay off in the long run?
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the benefits of Dry January include better sleep, better mood, weight-loss and more money. However, Koorosh Rassekh, the founder of Evo Health and Wellness, a mental health recovery center in Venice, California, says New Year’s resolutions like Dry January often set people up for failure.
“People come into the month thinking that if they just white-knuckle it through one month, then that practice alone will break a habit,” Rassekh said in a press release. “But this all-or-nothing mentality means that when you fall short, you’ve lost. And that failure means you might discard your goal until next year when you decide to try once again. Shame is a crappy motivator, and only harms your mental health in the long-term.”
That is why Rassekh encourages Dry January folks to take a different approach, taking a playful and curious attitude to understand more about themselves.
Instead of resolving to change a behavior, resolve to understand the ‘why’ behind the behavior,” he said. “For example, instead of resolving to drink less, resolve to explore why you drink.”
Rassekh offered the following questions for consideration:
- What do you get out of drinking?
- How might it get in the way of what you desire?
- What other possibilities can you tap into to pursue what you desire?
- What support do you need to get there?
Rassekh explained that by observing and learning from your behavior rather than judging it or shaming yourself for your ‘failures,’ you can actually make real change that will endure through time.
Dipping your toe in the water to see how it feels is a good start to this approach of self-curiosity. In fact, if sobriety is your goal, new research has found that while it may not be the most effective route, people who take part in Dry January are still drinking significantly less even as far out as August, but maybe it needs a different name.
“Curiosity gets at the true cause of this behavior and creates a pathway to deeper, lasting change,” he said. “Rather than saying you’re having a ‘Dry January,’ try saying you’re having a ‘Curious January.’ Sure, it may not be an easy resolution to explain. But you can’t fail at curiosity. And knowing that you’re heading in the right direction can help you keep at it over the long haul – even when it’s most challenging. So, stick with it and get curious.”