Dry January Is Coming: Here Are 31 Things to Do Other than Drink

Last Updated on March 30, 2021

After countless drinking opportunities during the holiday season, some people decide to start the new year with a break from alcohol. In short, they opt for a Dry January.

Quitting or cutting back on your drinking can improve your health and save money, and it’s a great New Year’s resolution. But it can be difficult to pull off unless you have some alcohol-free activities lined up.

In this post, we’re listing 31 things you can do during Dry January instead of reaching for a drink.

What Is Dry January?

When people participate in Dry January, they typically aim to give up drinking for the month. Dating as far back as 19421, when Finland instituted “Sober January” (or “Raitis tammikuu”) to aid the war effort against the Soviet Union, the phenomenon has gained popularity worldwide in recent years. Alcohol Concern, a charity in the United Kingdom, ran its first Dry January campaign in 2013, and got the support of the UK government the next year.

For many people, it can be difficult to stop drinking cold turkey. At Ria Health, we realize that people have different goals—whether it be abstinence or just cutting back. Even if your goal is to drink less, you can use the month to work towards that. Since other people go alcohol-free in January, there can be less temptation, and you may find that it’s an easier time to begin mending your relationship with alcohol.

What Is There To Do Besides Drink?

If you struggle with alcohol dependence, you may notice you have a lot more free time when you cut back or stop. When Katie Lain, Ria Health’s director of community engagement, stopped drinking, she wasn’t sure what to do. Drinking had taken up so much of her time for years. “I’ve realized what’s helped me the most in finding ways to spend my time is thinking about the things I liked doing as a child or youth,” she says.

If you’re looking for hobbies or activities to fill your time, we hope this list will provide some inspiration. It’s a good idea to make your own list so you can easily refer to it when you’re looking for something to do.

There are lots of things to do during Dry January other than drink
Don’t want to drink in January? Try ceramics!
Photo by Jared Sluyter for Unsplash
  1. Meditate— Search YouTube for a simple mindfulness meditation 2 or a guided visual meditation3.
  2. Paint— Check out a local paint night event or find a step-by-step tutorial on YouTube4.
  3. Get in touch with your spiritual self— This could mean visiting a place of worship or reading a religious or spiritual text.
  4. CraftsPinterest5 has tons of easy ideas. If you’re creative but don’t enjoy crafts, consider something like woodworking or assembling a model car kit.
  5. Bake— Find delicious recipes on Pinterest6.
  6. Long walks— Discover new parts of your city by taking walks.
  7. Play mocktail mixologist— Break out your shaker and muddler and experiment with these delicious non-alcoholic drinks7.
  8. Read a novel— Search for an interesting novel by genre on Goodreads.com8.
  9. Read a self-development book— Find inspiration by reading something empowering9.
  10. Play a game— Check out last year’s top video games 10 and top game apps11.
  11. Listen to an audiobook— Apps such as Audible12  allow you to listen to books while you’re walking, exercising, or doing chores.
  12. Bike— Find some trails in your area and make an afternoon out of it.
  13. Yoga— Get in touch with your body by going to a yoga class or following one on YouTube13.
  14. Gratitude list— Get into the habit of writing down 5-10 things you’re thankful for each day. It may sound corny, but science shows there are many benefits of gratitude.
  15. Reach out to old friends or distant relatives— Use Facebook, email, or a good old-fashioned phone call to catch up.
  16. Offer to babysit or petsit— Helping someone out can lift your mood, too!
  17. Read a magazine— Choose something you enjoy, whether it’s a magazine about knitting, cars, or politics.
  18. Garden— Start a backyard or balcony garden. If it’s too cold, you can start a small indoor herb garden.
  19. Discover a new restaurant— Expand your palate with a new cuisine.
  20. Learn a new language— Purchase a program or use free
    31 things to do in Dry January guitar
    You can learn to play the guitar!
    Photo by Akshar Dave for Unsplash

    resources, such as YouTube 14 or apps like HelloTalk15

  21. Check out local events— You can still go out without drinking. Use websites like Eventbrite 16 to find interesting activities in your area.
  22. Organize your home— Tackle one room (or section of a room) at a time.
  23. Plan a dream vacation— Even if you need to save up, research where you’d stay and what you’d do there.
  24. Meet new friends— If all your friends are drinkers, use Meetup 17 to hang out with people who share similar interests.
  25. Learn something you know nothing about— Whether it be mechanics, coding or investing. The For Dummies 18 books are a great place to start or come up with ideas.
  26. Journaling— Even if you don’t want to keep a diary, consider bullet journaling19.
  27. Movies— Go to the movies or have a movie marathon at home.
  28. Volunteer— Uplift your mood by helping a local non-profit.
  29. Learn an instrument— If you don’t want to commit to lessons, get them free on YouTube20.
  30. Take up photography— Even if you don’t have a fancy camera, learn how to take great photos21 with your phone.
  31. Start a workout routine— Go to the gym or simply roll out a mat for some at-home workouts22.

Although we’ve provided a busy list of things to do above, we believe that taking time to rest and do nothing is also important. Katie, for one, discovered that going easy on herself allowed her to save energy for new hobbies. “I found that if I was trying to do too much—like forcing myself to take on a new hobby or start a new project—when what I really needed was rest, I would not find as much happiness in these new activities,” she says.

If you find it difficult to cut back or abstain from drinking during Dry January, we’re here to help. Ria Health combines anti-craving medication and counseling to improve your relationship with alcohol.

If you’re ready to try a tailored and effective program to reduce your drinking, join today!


Medically reviewed by:
Director of Coaching
Designed over 6 evidence-based interventions; Clinical expert in addiction
Riannon Westall
Written By:
Toronto-based health writer. Background in newsroom journalism, content marketing, and research.
Edited by:
Content Writer/Editor
Writer specializing in targeted, informative content. Dedicated to making the abstract accessible.

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