Here’s why I cut back on alcohol at uni - and how I did it
Social life can be intense at uni, especially if you live in student accommodation. Don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly exciting too - the parties and the nights out, the thrill of clubbing in a new city, or just enjoying a drink with your flatmates.
For some students though, this devolves into something more serious than just a few innocent nights out. It certainly did for me.
I drank a lot before even coming to uni. I wasn’t one of those people who can have a casual drink and make it to uni the next day. And it took me a long time to figure out that, if I wanted to pursue my passions and achieve what I wanted, I had to cut down or even quit.
Are you struggling to cut down on the nightlife and be as productive as you’d like to be? Speaking from experience, here’s what I’d suggest you try.
Remember you’re not alone and ask for help
There are countless people out there, not just students, who struggle to balance the excitement of young adulthood with their responsibilities. It just so happens that uni life tends to throw you in at the deep end.
If you feel stuck, please remember you’re not alone. Help is out there, including your uni’s student support team who can offer you guidance and even counselling. There’s absolutely no shame in seeking help and, if anything, it’s the bravest thing you can do.
Throw yourself into your subject again
When you sink your teeth into a new assignment, especially if you’re passionate about what you study, you can really get a kick out of that achievement.
When I’m up to speed with everything and doing well, I feel less anxious about falling behind. I’m less stressed, less likely to feel depressed, and I’m much less likely to fall into a stupor. It sounds like some cliché you heard in high-school - ‘stay in school and your life will rule!’ Sounds like a crummy slogan, but there’s truth to it.
This is your degree, so pursue it and you’ll find fulfilment in just being there. If your attendance is slacking and you feel lost, just being there for even half the lecture is a good start. It’s never too late to catch up.
Spend some time alone in your new city
Enjoy your independence and find things you like outside of nightlife and your course. Explore the city or campus, find yourself a nice little café or favourite spot that you can go to when you want to clear your head.
For me, it’s the restaurant Kokoro in Liverpool, or a Costa by the pier. Try it, you’ll feel a lot more connected to your student city, without just thinking of it as a good place to go out clubbing.
Do more alcohol-free socialising
No one means to be a bad influence, and when they are you don’t have to resent them or cut them out completely. But less time with them means more time to focus on yourself, away from your vices.
This doesn’t need to be a big dramatic thing. Suggest going out to the cinema instead of getting drunk at the pub, or go out for lunch with them instead of going down to ‘Spoons for afternoon cocktails and pints.
Find friends who are in the same boat, or just interested in doing things other than boozing. Make friends on your course, they’ll encourage you to attend, do your best, and meet the deadlines.
Consider making a fresh start
I realised I was spending far too much time with my accommodation friends in Leeds. They became like a second family to me, and I wasn’t able to distance myself from that and focus on my work - nor was I able to cut down on drinking when I tried. So, I did the rather dramatic thing and transferred to a new city - Liverpool.
Now it just so happened that Liverpool had a much better course for me, and I realise this option won’t be right for everyone. But one way to find focus is to distance yourself from those who influence you. Hopefully you’ll be able to do that simply by spending time with them doing healthier things.
Look after yourself and you’ll find a balance
Sadly, I already know a lot of people who couldn’t find the right balance and ended up dropping out, and it’s a waste of the opportunity that university presents. I’m not suggesting you don’t let your hair down, it’s just about finding a good balance.
So remember to have fun, but remember that fun shouldn’t be something that’s a problem for you. Stay productive and proactive, and most of all, stay safe.