Last year, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) published new guidelines on alcohol and health. The guidance says that three or more standard drinks per week increases your risk of alcohol-related consequences, including cancer. Joining Dry January can help reduce your consumption of alcohol to recommended levels.

Participating in the challenge is a great way to kick off a healthier lifestyle in 2024. The following are some benefits of a month of alcohol abstinence:

Better sleep—Reducing alcohol intake leads to better rest, which can improve energy levels, focus, and productivity.

Weight loss—Alcohol is high in empty calories, and many Dry January participants lose a few pounds when they abstain.

A sense of accomplishment—Simply achieving something you found difficult can help boost confidence and well-being.

Drinking less alcohol can greatly benefit your health, including a stronger immune system, reduced stress, and a healthy, functioning liver. Alcohol also impacts blood pressure.

Tips to Stay on Track

The following tips may be helpful for participants undertaking a sober journey:

Tell people you trust about your Dry January goals. Not only could this inspire others to join the challenge, but they can check in and keep you accountable.

Find alternative activities. Dry January offers a chance to discover healthy substitutes for drinking. Pick up a sport, go to the gym, take a class or attend events where alcohol is not the focus.

Use a sobriety app to track your non-drinking days. Many apps are available to track your sobriety and how much time and money you have saved.

Check in with yourself regularly. Keep a journal and write down a few sentences every night about how the day went.Acknowledge any triggers that may have made you want to drink and describe what you did instead.

Participating in Dry January can provide insight into your drinking habits. If abstinence isa struggle, you may need to reassess your alcohol use. Speak to your doctor if alcohol consumption is impacting your health.

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Jan.24, 2024, is Bell Let’s Talk Day. This year-round initiative focuses on engaging Canadians to take action to create positive change in mental health. According to Mental Health Research Canada, more than 1 in 2 Canadians who said they needed mental health support are not getting the help they need.

There is one right way to talk about mental health, but the following tips can be helpful:

·   Consider having a conversation while you’re walking, cooking or driving, as it’s sometimes easier to talk side-by-side rather than face-to-face.

·   Remember that when someone has a mental health issue, they are still the same person—and they likely do not want to be treated differently.

·   Organize an event in your community, share articles or videos, or ask others how they’re doing; these are simple ways to start conversations about mental health.

·   Support people even when you’re not talking by texting or helping them with day-to-day tasks.

Talking about mental health isn’t always easy, but a conversation may have the power to change lives. Let the people in your life know you are there to listen without judgment.

Prioritize Self-care in 2024

Modern life is hectic and demanding, and practicing self-care is essential for your physical and mental health. Self-care can help you manage stress, lower the risk of illness, and increase energy so you can be well, do your job and take care of others.

Here are some ways you can make sure you prioritize self-care in the upcoming year:

·   Schedule time for yourself just as you would a meeting or appointment.

·   Turn off your cell phone and give yourself a technology break each day.

·    Improve sleep hygiene by establishing a bedtime routine—and sticking to it seven days a week.

Get outside and enjoy the fresh air as often as you can.