Students are renowned for three things: not sleeping enough, sleeping too much, and drinking too much. I’ve fit all of these stereotypes at some point during uni, but this month I’m taking at least one of them out of the equation.
After a particularly regrettable night out, I decided to quit alcohol for the month.
If you’re thinking about giving up the booze in 2019, let me tell you how the first week went for me.
Picture the scene: it’s 1:30pm and I have the hangover from hell. “I’m never drinking again,” I tell my long-suffering boyfriend. For some reason, he doesn’t believe me. Maybe it’s because I talk about my favourite club from first year like it’s an ex I still have feelings for. At this point, I don’t think either of us believe it’ll be long before I’m making my famously too-strong vodka mixers again. But something is different this time, and through the foggy haze of a hangover, I scale back my original plan to something more achievable: I’m going teetotal for the month.
Already, the first weekend has rolled around, but the high heels are staying in the wardrobe tonight. Instead, like a nerd, I switch on my fairy lights and candle and invite my boyfriend over to play board games, as if the electricity had gone out. Surprisingly though, this night was a lot of fun. Not to sound like a baby boomer, but it is nice to spend a night without staring at a screen – no phones, no Netflix, just classic 1950s family friendly fun. Drinking hasn’t even crossed my mind yet, but maybe I’m still a bit hungover.
Honestly the biggest incentive to not drink tonight is that I refuse to pay £10 entry to get into a club on a Saturday. That’s the most noticeable and measurable perk of being teetotal: you save. So. Much. Money. New dress? Not required. Uber surge prices? Not today. Ridiculous entry fees? Forget it. It’s weird to feel a bit smug when you’re in your pyjamas by 10pm on a Saturday.
So – as I’m sure your mum reminded you – the clocks went back recently, meaning the days suddenly feel a lot shorter. Longer nights means more time to party, right? But not for me! Tonight I’m cooking myself a proper homemade dinner, a lentil shepherd’s pie. While I was cooking, a lot of my flatmates were in the kitchen, so we ended up catching up over dinner. This was great because it’s just as social as pre-drinks, but without the hangover. It inspired me to cook a dinner for everyone later this month, so we can have the fun of a party without the alcohol.
At this point, it’s becoming noticeable that I’m not drinking. Usually in the course of five days, if I hadn’t gone clubbing, I would’ve at least had a glass of wine while watching Netflix. Luckily for me, my sister has managed to avoid alcohol for the entire course of her degree. A long phone call with her was encouraging. It made me realise that although alcohol was a big part of my social life, sacrificing alcohol didn’t mean sacrificing my friends. There’s still plenty you can do without alcohol, and truthfully, if you can only hang out with someone when you’re drunk, then you probably don’t want to hang out with them at all.
Coming towards the end of the first week of my teetotal challenge, my wonderful flatmate Zara invited me to a café to do some revision. I’m not sure if it was a result of my sobriety, but this was the most productive day I’ve had this academic year. I was sipping my fancy herbal tea and bashing out my essay like a proper organised student would. After all this hard work, we decided we deserved a treat. “Wanna go for a drink?” Zara asked, but willpower prevailed. Instead, I drove us to our local cinema to watch a thriller. Even with popcorn, this night out was cheaper than a few drinks at the pub.
That brings us to today! I’m roughly one quarter of the way through my challenge. Already, I feel I’ve learned a lot. Mostly that drinking is super expensive, but also that I’m more productive and just as social without alcohol. If you feel that drinking is starting to do you more harm than good, I’d absolutely recommend a short break, even if it is only a week. Test your limits and see what you can learn about yourself. At the very least, you’ll probably end up with more money in your pocket.