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Pre-pandemic, it was happy hours, bottomless brunches and work events that were mostly about taking advantage of an open bar. Now, even though we’ve been stuck inside for the better part of a year, many of us find ourselves drinking even more than ever. OK, you might think, I’ll just give up drinking for a while. But if you’ve ever attempted a dry “month” (Dry January, Sober October, etc.), you know that laying off of booze for a bit can be tricky. That’s why we checked in with journalist Hilary Sheinbaum, whose fabulous new book, The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month, explores the benefits of abstaining from alcohol for a month and provides a comprehensive guide to help you tackle any booze-free challenge if that’s your prerogative. Here, Sheinbaum gives us five easy-to-follow tips for laying off the booze in a world where so many roads seem to lead to alcohol.

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5 Tips for Laying Off the Booze in a World That Doesnt Make It Easy
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1. Recruit a Friend

“Doing a dry month solo is totally doable, but if you’re looking for support, recruit a friend to participate with you. Having someone to share the ups and downs with can not only serve as a means of accountability but also a bonding experience. Plus, you’ll also have someone to plan activities with, sans alcohol.”

2. Store or Discard Your Booze

“Rather than displaying your liquor stash on your bar cart (in plain sight), put away your bottles of alcohol in a place that doesn’t have as much foot traffic. You can even give your collection to a friend to hold onto for the month or pour it down the drain if you’d prefer. The point is: out of sight, out of mind. There’s less temptation to indulge when you don’t have consistent reminders.”

3. Make a Calendar of Non-Boozy Events

“Plan to participate in things you love that don’t involve alcohol. Instead of curling up with a glass of wine on the couch, schedule a workout, cook a new recipe (without cooking wine), watch a movie or meditate. Do things that you enjoy! When you occupy your time with activities, you’ll find joy in other ways (and while doing so, you won’t have time to drink).”

4. Be Kind to Yourself

“We’re living in a crazy world these days—so whether this is your first dry month or you’re a seasoned alum, bear in mind that giving up alcohol can be hard, even if it’s for 31 days. We’re only human, and if you end up having a drink or a round of drinks, all is not lost. Pick up where you left off during your alcohol-free month and finish strong.” 

5. Reward Yourself in the End

“While taking a month-long break from alcohol has benefits within itself, including better skin, improved sleep and financial savings, having something to look forward to at the end of your month can be motivating. It’s also important to celebrate your accomplishments and acknowledge what you’ve done! While you may opt to buy yourself something new (especially with all of the money you saved), you also don’t have to spend a dime if you choose. Instead, indulge in a relaxing bubble bath.” 

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