dry-january

Holiday hangover? Here's the case for a 'dry January'

Jan. 2, 2013 at 1:00 PM ET

By the editors of Women's Health

 

Even if you avoid overindulging around the holidays (eggnog bender, anyone?), starting off the New Year with a short break from booze can transform your body and mind. Turns out, much of the damage that alcohol does can be reversed. Try giving up the sauce for four weeks and you might be surprised at how much better you look and feel. 

Within a few days:

Minus any moisture-sapping alcohol, your skin will look and feel more hydrated. Any ruddiness in your cheeks and nose (caused by swollen capillaries) will fade. Nonchronic dandruff, eczema, or rosacea should lessen or disappear.

Alcohol may make you sleepy, but it also disrupts the quality of your sleep. Which means you're now getting the sounder shut-eye that leads to increased concentration and energy levels. 

Your liver is loving you! It no longer has to work double time to neutralize boozy toxins and can now home in on other stuff, like helping you recover faster from scrapes or bruising.

If you suffer wonky digestion, and especially acid reflux, your symptoms should drastically improve.

Related story: How many calories do you save by giving up booze?

Within a week or two:

Since alcohol is by its nature a depressant, it can drag down the outlook of drinkers. Which means you should now start noticing increased mental clarity and much better moods.

Lots of women booze to relax, but lots of alcohol over time actually makes the heart work much harder. Without that extra burden, your pulse rate is lower and you're better able to exercise. 

Within a month:

Most alcohol is loaded with sugar and empty calories, which often show up as belly fat (the most dangerous kind). Your abs are now re-revealing themselves; however, you may be fighting residual sugar cravings. 

All that sleep you've been scoring means your brain and body are well rested. Enter heightened productivity and an ever-brightening mood.

Alcohol can dull your senses--all of your senses. Contrary to popular belief, sex isn't better when you're buzzed. Trust us and test this, now that your sexual organs are extra-sensitive again.

If you're trying to become pregnant, you now have a better chance of conceiving.

Sources: Anne Felton, R.N., director of operations at the University of Colorado Hospital's Center for Dependency, addiction, and Rehabilitation; Harris Stratyner, Ph.D., vice president of Caron Treatment Centers

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