For those invested in their personal growth, the new year is a great time to reflect on one’s physical and mental health goals. Whether you’re participating in Dry January, or looking to make a long-term change, drinking less alcohol is a popular new year’s resolution that can help you achieve both of those aims.
Cutting back on booze may be challenging—especially in our cocktail-happy culture. But it has proven whole-body benefits, from greater peace of mind to clearer skin. Here are some motivations, tips, and tricks to help you stick with drinking less alcohol in 2021.
Reasons to Drink Less in 2021
The key to sticking with any New Year’s resolution is to identify your “why.” When you have a clear reason for setting a goal, you’ll find it easier to adhere to it. Try jotting down the reasons you want to drink less in 2021 and keeping them with you. If you need some inspiration, here are some common benefits of cutting back:
Believe it or not, drinking less might actually make you happier. Alcohol’s impacts on the nervous system are known to negatively affect a person’s overall mood. In fact, studies show that having an alcohol use disorder doubles your likelihood of having major depression.
Alcohol can quickly drain your savings account if you aren’t careful about your drinking. For example, imagine you drink a $10 bottle of wine a week; by no longer drinking, you’d save over $500 a year. And that’s just drinking at a moderate level. Try this handy alcohol spending calculator to find out how much you might be spending on alcohol. What would you like to spend that money on instead?
Hangovers are the worst. Who wouldn’t want to decrease the number of days they spend nursing a morning-after headache? According to a poll conducted by Healthspan, the average person in the UK spends two years of their life hungover. That’s over 700 days you could spend doing something much more enjoyable with your time!
Improved Sex Life
Cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink might even make you better in bed. Alcohol use is known to contribute to erectile dysfunction and other performance issues in men. And in women, it’s associated with decreased physical arousal and more difficulty reaching orgasm.
In addition to getting you to bed earlier (since you won’t be staying out all night to party), drinking less alcoholic beverages can help you improve your sleep quality. Studies show that moderate to high alcohol consumption reduces your REM sleep, leaving you feeling less rested. Drinking less can help you catch up.
Tips for Sticking with Your New Year’s Resolution
Making a new year’s resolution is only half the battle. How do you ensure that you stick with your goal for the rest of 2021, rather than abandoning it halfway through February? Whether you want to cut down on the number of drinks you have each week, or quit drinking altogether, try these tips to stick with your new year’s resolution to drink less alcohol:
Big, drastic changes are much harder to stick to than small, attainable ones. Thankfully, abstinence is not the only option when it comes to drinking less in 2021. If you want to cut back, start by setting a goal to have one or two fewer drinks than usual on each occasion. Or aim to drink one or two fewer days each week. Some people find that easing into sobriety is easier than quitting alcohol cold turkey.
“Drink less” is a difficult new year’s resolution to follow. After all, what does it mean to “drink less?” How will you know when you’ve achieved it? Setting specific, measurable goals gives you clear metrics for success. For example, instead of saying “I’m going to drink less in 2021,” try “I’m going to drink no more than one glass of wine twice a week in 2021.” These specific numbers will make it easier to tell when you’ve met your goal, and when you’ve still got some work to do.
Ask for Help
Social support is key to success in reaching most goals. If you want to drink less in 2021, start by getting friends and family on board with your plans. You might be surprised how much consideration they put into helping you navigate social gatherings sans alcohol. If you think you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, you might also seek out some professional support. Modern treatment options might be more flexible than you expect!
Above all else, it’s important to use positive self-talk, and to forgive yourself for any slip-ups you make in the new year. After all, to err is human, and perfection is often an unreasonable goal. Rather than beating yourself up for your mistakes, choose to actively cope with your disappointment. Instead of giving up on your goals, practice self-compassion to motivate yourself to keep trying.
Support for Drinking Less in the New Year
If you have a goal of cutting back or quitting drinking in 2021, there are also new, flexible ways to find support. Ria Health is one program that offers both moderation and abstinence as goals, and customizes treatment to your individual needs. The whole thing is done through a convenient smartphone app, so care can be tailored to your personal schedule. Best of all, you don’t need to identify as an alcoholic to join.
- Boden, J.M. and Fergusson, D.M. Alcohol and depression. Addiction. 2011; 106(5): 906-914. Accessed January 8, 2021
- Food and Wine. Average Person Spends Two Years of Their Life Hungover, Finds Study. Accessed January 8, 2021
- Ebrahim, I.O. et. al. Alcohol and sleep I: effects on normal sleep. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. 2013; 37(4): 539-549. Accessed January 8, 2021
- Palamar, J.J. et. al. A Qualitative Investigation Comparing Psychosocial and Physical Sexual Experiences Related to Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among Adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 2019; 47(3): 757-770. Accessed January 8, 2021
- American Psychological Association. Making Your New Year’s Resolution Stick. Accessed January 8, 2021