Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we examine the long-lasting benefits of Dry January, the power of small weekly goals, and how bad moods affect your health.
The payoffs of Dry January
For those of you putting away the vino and beer for Dry January, here’s some extra motivation to keep going. New research from the University of Sussex in England highlighted in The Argus showed that people who abstained from alcohol for the month were still drinking less in August, even if they didn’t manage to stay booze-free for the entire month.
Not only did drinking days fall on average, but the amount consumed per drinking day also fell, as participants learned to have fun, relax and socialize without alcohol.
Moreover, of the study’s 800 participants, 54 percent emerged with better skin, 58 percent had lost weight and 57 percent had better concentration. In addition, 67 percent said they had more energy, 71 percent slept more soundly and 88 percent saved money.
“There are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January,” said Richard Visser, Ph.D., one of the U.K. researchers.
How negativity affects your health
You know that negativity is bad for your relationships, but researchers are increasingly finding it bad for your health. Negative moods such as sadness or anger surveyed multiple times a day over time were associated with higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers, which can contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some types of cancer, according to Penn State researchers.
Their research, published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity and summarized in Futurity, asked participants over a two-week period to recall both how they were feeling in the moment and their feelings over a period of time. Blood was drawn to measure markers of inflammation after these self-assessments.
Negative moods accumulating in the week leading up to the blood draw were linked to higher levels of inflammation. There were even stronger trends of association between negativity and inflammation in the moment right before the blood draw.
Conversely, researchers found that positive moods were associated with lower levels of inflammation but, interestingly enough, only with men in the study.
The hope is that with more research, scientists can better understand the mechanisms underlying mood and inflammation and develop better interventions to help prevent the chronic inflammation that can cause disease.
For health resolutions, weekly mini-goals are better
If your New Year’s resolutions never seem to stick, this year you might try making Monday resolutions instead.
Mondays are like the new year of each week, experts say, providing the best opportunity to set intentions and get back on track with your plans when you slip up. Indeed, Google searches for “healthy” are 30 percent higher on Monday and Tuesday than the combined Wednesday through Sunday average, underlining the natural boost of momentum that comes with the start of each week.
“New Year’s only comes around once per year, but Mondays come every seven days. You basically get 52 chances a year to stay on track,” Peggy Neu, president of the nonprofit The Monday Campaigns initiative, told CNN.
Focusing on new mini-goals each week that build on previous ones is a more effective strategy than setting sweeping yearly goals, said Marjorie Cohn, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, because you get a feeling of accomplishment each week that builds confidence and snowballs into better choices over time.
The Monday Campaigns helps organizations introduce positive change through weekly mini-initiatives such as Meatless Mondays, Kids Cook Mondays, DeStress Mondays and Move It Monday.
Photo credit: Walenga Stanislav, Adobe Stock