If you’re doing dry January this month, you may be reaching the point where you feel like breaking down — but stay strong. Observing dry January has some serious benefits, from improving your sleep to even reducing liver inflammation associated with frequent drinking. One month may not seem like much, but experts say it can really make a difference both physiologically and psychologically. It may even help you rethink your relationship with alcohol down the line.

And if you’re not doing dry January? That’s okay. If you want to reap those benefits, you can always do dry February, dry March, or whatever works best for you (more tips on that below).

woman abstaining from a glass of wine during dry january

Regardless of when you decide to go dry, the benefits are real. "People with significant liver inflammation related to alcohol will oftentimes see their markers of inflammation go back to normal within the course of a month, and that's people who have a significant level of alcohol intake," Rocco Iannucci, MD, director of the Fernside Residential Treatment Program at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital tells PEOPLE. "Alcohol is a toxin to the liver. The good news is the liver up to a point has a lot of capacity to heal and so giving it that chance to heal can be really helpful."

Tips for getting through dry January

Benefits aside, it can be hard to stick to this commitment, especially if your social life involves a lot of drinking, or your nightly routine includes winding down with a glass of wine. Hopefully, these tips will help keep you going if you’ve started to feel as though you’ve hit a wall this dry January.

Romanticize the mocktail

For years, mocktails were treated as an afterthought, especially at restaurants and bars. Luckily, that seems to be slowly changing. While there may not be an extensive mocktail menu when you go out to dinner or join friends for a night out, you can experiment with different combinations of juice, fruit, fresh herbs, and other mix-ins to come up with flavors you love. Chances are, the bar or restaurant you’re attending can replicate that fairly easily. If not, there’s always the chance to romanticize the ritual of having a mocktail at home. You can use the fancy wine glasses, add an oversized ice cube, garnish it with your favorite herbs, and make a whole, beautiful ritual of it.

Enlist a partner

Dry January can be an isolating experience, especially if you’re part of a circle where alcohol-fueled activities are the norm. Of course, you can always join those activities and stay sober even if all your friends are drinking, but you could also ask a friend to join you, either for just one event or for the entire month. 

Set the expectation upfront

One of the hardest parts about not drinking can be fielding all the questions that come with this choice. The sad reality is, if you show up at a party or event, people may ask a lot of questions about why you’re abstaining. The upside to dry January is that it’s a pretty popular cultural trend right now, so perhaps explaining that you’re participating in it will be enough. With that being said, sometimes the best option is setting the expectation up front and telling your friends that you’re doing dry January before you head to a social event. That way, they won’t be surprised when you turn down a drink.

women talking over coffee

Remember: It doesn’t have to be January

If you missed the boat on dry January this month and feel regretful, remember: You can put this into practice any time you’d like. There’s a lot of pressure to focus on goal-setting in January, and if you just didn’t get around to making this commitment this month, that’s okay. You can make it another month — or it doesn’t even have to follow a calendar month at all. If your January is packed with social events and you know you’ll want to have a few drinks, you’re better off going dry for another month as opposed to setting yourself up to fail at this goal in January.

It doesn’t have to end in January either

If you do dry January and find yourself loving the way you feel, remember: It doesn't have to end at the end of the month. You may have been telling yourself “I can wait to have a cocktail on February 1”. But guess what? If that date rolls around and you still find yourself just not feeling like having a drink, you can rethink that plan. In fact, it may be a good idea to check in with yourself at the end of the month and ask yourself if you’d like to continue, whether for another chunk of time or indefinitely.

Don’t be afraid to shut down speculation

The sad reality is, people have a lot of curiosity when someone abstains from alcohol — and as we’ve discussed here many times, some of that curiosity may turn into pregnancy speculation (ugh!). But here’s our tip — and it’s one that won’t just help you, it may also help shut down the culture of fertility speculation. If someone asks you if you “have news” when you turn down a drink, don’t be afraid to say something like “hey, that’s a really insensitive question. I’m doing a dry month, but someone who is struggling with fertility issues or not ready to reveal a pregnancy may have a really hard time with that question.” If it helps, know that Team Rescripted will be silently cheering you on while you do so.

Damp January could work too

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Sometimes setting smaller, more attainable goals is better than jumping right into something that feels more intimidating, like committing to a sober month. Trying “damp January”, which essentially means cutting back on alcohol for the month without eliminating it completely, could be the right move. This may mean abstaining with the exception of one occasion, cutting down the number of drinks you have in one setting, or reducing the frequency of your drinking. Whatever worlds for you will work.

Start a nightly tea ritual

If having a drink is something you look forward to every night, consider replacing that drink with something else, like a cup of hot tea. Herbal tea can be so relaxing, and in the colder months, it’s great to have something hot to sip on while relaxing at the end of the day. You can make the most of this by treating yourself to an assortment of teas and trying a few different varieties until you find something you love.

Get into something that doesn’t require alcohol

Get excited about something — anything, as long as it doesn’t center around drinking. It could be a great show that you can really get into, a stack of books, a new workout class, a hobby, a puzzle, an at-home spa ritual…really, it’s up to you. Whatever will replace the excitement of going out to a bar is a good thing. Having something to look forward to at the end of the day is always a good thing, and it’s going to help you replace the buzz of going out drinking.

woman reading a book

Don’t overload your list of goals

If committing to dry January feels like a big, daunting goal for you, focus on that. There’s no need to also try and commit to hitting the gym every day, waking up at 5 am every morning, cutting sugar from your diet, or tackling a long list of projects. Instead, just focus on getting through dry January. A new year can make you feel like you need to do a complete lifestyle overhaul — but you don’t. Incremental change, tackling one goal at a time…that feels far doable than trying to change everything about yourself under the pressure of the new year.

Zara Hanawalt is a freelance journalist and mom of twins. She's written for outlets like Parents, MarieClaire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Motherly, and many others. In her (admittedly limited!) free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, trying new restaurants, and traveling with her family.