Is a dry January actually good for your health?

Photo by Jared Siskin/Getty Images for Max Mara

Dry January, aka ditching alcohol in the first month of the new year, is an annual tradition for many people. For some, it’s part of a New Year’s resolution to drink less, while others claim it’s a way to "detox" from excessive drinking over the holidays—but all swear that it’s going to do beneficial things for their health. Instagram is now flooded with #DryJanuary posts featuring mocktail recipes, pledges of healthy habits and people joking about how much they’re already struggling with going alcohol-free for the month.

But does avoiding alcohol for a month do much for your health? Experts say it can—if you approach it the right way.

First, consider why you're committing to Dry January in the first place.

There's obviously nothing wrong with abstaining from or limiting your alcohol intake. Excessive drinking and binge drinking can lead to several negative health effects, including weight gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D., tells SELF. “Excessive drinking also impairs your sleeping patterns and increases the risk for certain diseases, including breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and liver problems,” she says.

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