The one essential tool you need to get through winter’s cruellest month without drink. And the seven benefits you will reap in health and wellbeing
An estimated three million people now sign up for Dry January and keep off the booze for the first 31 days of the year. Recent research shows that 71% of them succeed in maintaining abstinence for the whole month, and 60% continue to drink less across the year. What is the most important tool in sticking to the pledge and how can you get it?
The Essential Dry January Tool
Self-efficacy, or the belief that you can succeed in the goals you set yourself, will be your greatest asset as you slog through a month of chilly temperatures and transport strikes without being able to pour yourself a glass of wine. Recent psychological research found that it was the Dry January participants who had higher self-efficacy who were most likely to succeed.
Self-efficacy is not to be confused with self-esteem or self-confidence, you can have very low self-esteem and confidence levels at rock-bottom, and still muster a good strong slug of self-efficacy.
Four Ways To Develop Self-Efficacy
It sounds blindingly obvious but the experience of mastering something strongly influences your view of your abilities. Or – success breeds success. The opposite is also true: if you fail to rise to a challenge or give up because you think a task is just too tricky it will undermine and weaken your self-efficacy. So just taking up a challenge can boost your chances of success.
Learning by example:
Observing others and vicarious experience can be every bit as informative and helpful as doing it yourself. So start to observe how your family, colleagues or peers perform a task or handle a situation. This can help you to perform a similar task by imitation, and more importantly it will boost your belief that you will succeed.
When other people encourage you to perform a task, you start to believe that you are more capable of performing that task. So seek constructive feedback from the people around you, and give yourself an review of the positive aspects of how you tackled any challenges and this will help you to overcome self-doubt and maintain a sense of self-efficacy.
Being aware of your emotional states:
How you interpret and evaluate your emotional states is very important in developing self-efficacy. Moods, emotions, physical reactions, and stress levels influence how you feel about your personal abilities. If you are extremely nervous or blushing red about something, doubt creeps in and your sense of self-efficacy weakens. But if you can calm and control that anxiety or flush, you may experience a sense of positivity that fosters a great sense of self-efficacy.
The Benefits Of Dry January
- An alcohol-free month can jumpstart better drinking habits all year long. A recent study found that those who merely tried to stop drinking for one month reported decreased alcohol consumption over the following six months.
- Previous studies have shown that even a short alcohol hiatus can improve liver function
- Even a brief spell without booze boots improves insulin resistance and so reduces your risk of diabetes.
- Alcohol consumption is associated with weight gain depending on drinking level and genetic factors; so even a day or two off the sauce promotes weight loss
- Previous studies support a relationship between sleep disturbance and alcohol use.
- Alcohol is a depressant, which affects our thoughts, feelings and actions – having a breather from it can lift your mood.
- Alcohol use is also implicated in energy levels so abstaining a while can lead to increased energy and clarity of thought.
If you feel you would like some support to build your self-efficacy or work on self-esteem issues then therapy could be an option for you. Also if you feel you need some help with your relationship to alcohol, or with any underlying issues, we have a team of addiction counsellors who will be able to help. Just call 020 8673 4545 or email [email protected] for a confidential appointment.