The coronavirus outbreak is a particularly challenging time for third level students. In addition to being worried about coronavirus, you may be stressed about exams, finances, or your accommodation situation. Dealing with all of this and adapting to a new routine can be tough. You may be drinking differently at home than you would in a social setting. Yet alcohol can make stressful times feel even worse, affecting the quality of our sleep, making our immune system less effective, and impacting on our relationships with others. Due to the rapid changes in our lives as a result of the pandemic, how we react with alcohol could be different during this time.
If you drink alcohol, here are some tips to help you cut back and look after yourself.
- Try to develop a daily routine and delay drinking until as late as possible – try not to drink during the day.
- Have at least 2 – 3 alcohol free days per week. This is in line with the low risk weekly guidelines – 17 standard drinks for men, 11 standard drinks for women.
- Stay hydrated by having a water or other non-alcoholic drink as every second drink
- Eat well before you drink and don’t consume alcohol on an empty stomach
- Avoid buying alcohol in bulk and choose low-alcohol or alcohol-free drinks
- Prepare for peer pressure. Try to tell your friends you usually drink with about your plans to cut down, so they understand. Reasons for this could be diet, medication, fitness, or an early start in the morning! Remind your friends that everyone reacts differently, what works for your friends might not work for you.
- Check out USI/STAND calendar for alternative events without alcohol (https://www.10000students.ie/calendar)
- There may be certain times you associate with drinking e.g late at night or at the weekend. Think how you will get through these moments before they happen and find more advice here.
- Avoid using alcohol to cope with stressful feelings. Using alcohol to help with emotions could quickly become a pattern and a norm that you rely on to support yourself.
- Alcohol can have risky interactions with illegal drugs and some prescription medication. Learn more here.
- If you choose to drink, avoid doing this in public spaces or other people’s homes due to the current public health measures.
There’s lots more information and support available if you need it.
The HSE’s www.yourmentalhealth.ie has specific advice on how to mind your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
Get more information and support here
Source: The Union of Students in Ireland