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Mental toughness expert provides tips for those curious about sobriety ahead of Dry January

Colleen Ryan-Hensley, a mental toughness expert, launched an online community to serve those who are stuck in the downward spiral of unhealthy binging.

AUSTIN, Texas — In 2022, the number of Dry January participants grew to 35%up from the previous high of 21% in 2019, according to a report by CNN Business. 

Dry January is a month-long break from drinking alcohol as a way to reset the relationship people have with alcohol after the holiday season. In 2023, the percentage of Dry January participants is expected to grow as more sober-curious Americans look to reset their health for the new 7ear.

With the beginning of Dry January starting on Sunday, Jan. 1, Colleen Ryan-Hensley, a mental toughness expert, sexual assault survivor and Navy veteran, is launching #BingingSober. 

#BingingSober is an online community that aims to redefine mental toughness and serve those that might be stuck in the cycle of unhealthy binging habits. The #BingingSober process focuses on the value of taking time away from intoxication in all its forms – including alcohol, social media, food and more – rather than practicing abstinence from a single habit.

"Now, I am launching #BingingSober, which is a great supplement to Dry January in that it is not only it's a process that not only questions our relationship with alcohol, but escapism beyond alcohol that we turn to to improve our mental state. But they typically make us feel worse," Ryan-Hensley said. "You know, we binge watch, we eat, we binge drink, we binge shop, all trying to feel better and we end up feeling worse in the long run."

She said she believes there are things, like alcohol, that are inherently toxic. But there are other things that people frequently use in their day-to-day life that are not inherently toxic, like video games, social media and TV.

"It's the amount, the frequency, the impact they have on our lives. It's how we judge ourselves when we use these things that make them toxic for us. So, the process itself just really creates a lot of awareness, control and balance of how those things are truly impacting our lives," Ryan-Hensley said. "And I found over time, like I said, it's very slow and intentional, which is extremely important for consistency."

If you're thinking about participating in Dry January for just the month or for a long-term commitment, Ryan-Hensley said that those that are on the fence are obviously questioning something. 

"So, I would ask them to get really curious about what that is. Just, like I said, give it a day, you know, take it one day at a time. The biggest part of Dry January that creates success is the community is the relatedness that comes along with with practicing things like these. It's vital to motivation to have that community and that relatedness. That's one of the the biggest changes, obviously, for me. So, I'm really excited to see how far this can go as a community with that relatedness," Ryan-Hensley said.

Ryan-Hensley emphasized that it's important to know that real change is slow and intentional, and every day is a new opportunity to keep going.

"Now, along with that, to be extra active in the process and really, really feel like, really pay attention to how you're feeling with all of your senses, to how backing off or abstaining from these things is, is helping you, is impacting you in a positive way because it's those little small gains. If you can reflect on one day without alcohol, if you can reflect on one day without, you know, binge eating or what have you. And if you can feel that difference, it builds every day," she said.

The online community is a point system that Ryan-Hensley said makes things very objective and easy to reflect upon. The points allow members to calculate and determine how engaging in these habits will impact your energy.

"So, you're moving from habitual escape to purposeful escape. And it's a very big difference. Just overall mentality, mental state. It's something that, when you tap into [it], is like a a self connection that we're missing right now because we're so distracted by these things," Ryan Hensley said. "When you can make that connection to yourself and how these things are truly impacting you, that's where self-regulation improves."

Anyone can join the #BingingSober community that launches Jan. 1 by visiting Ryan-Hensley's website.

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