Yes the month of Dry is approaching – are you joining the force this year? Or perhaps still considering? Here is an overlook – a beginner’s guide for you.

How it began? Everyone has heard of the joke “Three men walk into a bar….” but all jokes aside, that is actually how Dry July started. In July 2008 in Sydney, Australia, three mates, Brett, Kenny and Phil, wanted to take a break from booze and decided to give up alcohol for the month of July, coining the name ‘Dry July’. Hoping to raise $3,000 to buy a TV for their local hospital’s waiting room, the campaign was a huge success and the very first Dry July in Australia ended up raising $250,000, thanks to the support of radio host Adam Spencer, and Dry July was well and truly born!

Dry July crossed the ditch to New Zealand in 2012, and since then has inspired 29,000 Kiwis across the country to go dry. Their efforts have raised $3.8 million for those affected by cancer, and has also funded more than 170 cancer-based projects for 15 beneficiary organisations nationwide. These efforts cannot be underestimated – Dry July is a huge deal for those directly or secondarily affected by cancer.

Where Do the Funds Go? All funds raised for Dry July will benefit Look Good Feel Better, a charity that provides free, community-based programmes for any person, facing any type of cancer, at any stage of their life. The charity provides classes for cancer patients, focussing on the physical and emotional effects their disease is taking on them. The physical implications of cancer treatment can rob patients of their identity, and realisations of mortality can severely impact patients’ mental health.

Look Good Feel Better provides patients with a day away from treatment, focussed completely on themselves. Classes are run by volunteers with a wealth of experience in nursing, beauty therapy or cosmetic consultation. On arrival, patients receive a Look Good Feel Better makeup pack, filled with donated skincare and personalised makeup, specially chosen to suit the individual’s skin tone. The team of volunteers guide patients through a 12-step skincare and make-up regime, with great hints and tips on how best to apply each product. Particular care is taken with key ‘problem’ areas resulting from cancer treatment, such as re-defining the eye area when ladies have lost brows and lashes. Simple scarf tying, wig care and hand massage techniques all form part of the class.

Look Good Feel Better NZ also secured a Dry July grant in 2017 towards running a facilitator training workshop for the Men’s Programme. The aim was to help educate Facilitators about the Programme, ultimately offering better access to the new Look Good Feel Better Men’s programme across NZ centres for any man, diagnosed with any cancer.

98% of patients would recommend Look Good Feel Better classes to someone else, and the feedback volunteers receive everyday about how life-changing and re-invigorating the classes are for cancer patients is what keeps them coming back for more.

Benefits for You The biggest benefit of completing Dry July is obviously the amazing feeling you’ll get from changing the lives of those affected by cancer – the patients themselves, but also their families and loved ones. Not to be overlooked, though, are the numerous other benefits you’ll stumble upon throughout the month – health benefits, mental wellbeing benefits, and serious financial gains.

Health benefits of Dry July include increased energy levels, weight loss, a better night’s sleep, improved liver function, and obviously, a hangover-free brain! By helping others, you’re also helping yourself.

The mental benefits of staying sober are painfully obvious to everyone who’s ever had a hangover – you’re sharper, more alert, and generally have a more positive outlook on life. Imagine what you could achieve with your weekends if they weren’t just spent in bed, recovering from the night before!

Financial gains also don’t need much explanation – we all know the price of a drink in New Zealand isn’t cheap, but for those living in the cities, prices are almost unaffordable. 31 days of sobriety will undoubtedly see you in a better financial position at its conclusion than when it began.

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