IT’S that time of the year (again) when we seek to eat cleaner, kick the booze and make New Year’s resolutions. 

As a result, many people will be taking part in Dry January this month.

Already a few days in, the challenge to abstain from alcohol for a month following the excesses of the festive season, might be starting to get all the more difficult.

But Liz Sharpe, an alcohol coach and therapist based in Southend, has some helpful advice for Dry January participants.

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy counsellor and hypnotherapist says one of the most important factors to focus on is the health aspect of having a booze-free month.

Liz said: “Think of the health and financial benefits. 

“Your liver will really thank you for taking a few weeks off alcohol. You may notice that you save money, sleep better (and wake up with more energy) and lose weight.  

“Really focus in on your health benefits and what change you want to notice. If you wear a Fitbit or smart watch, then notice how your sleep pattern improves (alcohol really affects our sleeping as it becomes more disrupted and we have less ‘quality’ sleep).”

But she also says abstaining from alcohol for a bit doesn’t have to soak up all the fun in your life.

She added: “Going dry for a month doesn’t mean that you need to be the designated driver and sit in the corner sipping your soda water,” said Liz. 

“Plan some days / nights out doing other stuff - going bowling, the cinema, heading into the city.  

“When you are waking up with more energy with a clear head, then plan some things to do in the mornings so you enjoy feeling healthy.

“Also look at the range of non-alcohol alternatives. Give your taste buds something to get excited about.

“Invest in some interesting sober flavours - look up mocktail recipes - check out nosecco (prosecco alternative) or the zero based lager/ ale/clean spirits.”

Many people decide to get sponsored for Dry January, others will donate the money they save to charity, while others just do it for personal reasons.

Liz says getting sponsored by family and friends for a charity close to your heart may help you keep going with your sobering quest.

“When your motivation is wavering, look at how much you have raised.  

“Alcohol Change UK is behind Dry January and has sponsorship options.    

“Getting the support of others is important. Sign up for Dry January with a friend - or go online to forums and join the various groups.  Feeling part of a wider group will help you remain on track.  

“Ask for support from people around you.”

Liz also suggests knowing your triggers and anticipating situations where you might be tempted to indulge in a tipple.

She said: “Have a think about the situations, people or things that make you want to reach for a drink.  If you use alcohol to switch off from a bad day at work - then what can you do to reduce the work stress? 

“If it seems hard to eat a roast without a glass of red - then maybe go for a different food option.  If your relative makes you gasp for alcohol - can you avoid them for a while? 

“Keep an eye when you notice a craving or a time when you would open a bottle and then do something different.”

Finally Liz says to be prepared for people who want you to fail: “Get your excuses ready for people who won’t understand that you want to do Dry January and put pressure on you to join them for a drink. If other people want you to join them for a drink - then maybe avoid them for a few weeks.  

“And ride the cravings! A craving will only last for 15 minutes. Do something to ride the urge and notice that you feel differently. Go for a walk, ring a friend, do the washing up, do a puzzle - anything.”

Liz stresses, however: “If you have been drinking particularly heavily for a longer period of time, then get some medical advice before quitting suddenly. It can be harmful to stop alcohol as withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous if your body is used to you drinking frequently.”  

Liz predominantly helps people to cut down or stop alcohol or cigarettes.