You may have noticed that lists of ‘stuff’ are fast becoming the lifeblood of the internet. Look no further than the wild success of Buzzfeed, go-to haunt of procrastinators the world over (don’t try to tell me you’ve never found yourself deeply fascinated by the 24 ultimate postgraduate fails, or the 11 best Game of Thrones actor selfies, or the 39 cutest mashed-potato-eating animals while you’re supposed to be essay writing).
So I thought I’d get in on the trend during this brief space of freedom, after essays and before I get stuck into my dissertation. This is a subjective list, by no means exhaustive, just outlining a few fantastic things I have done over the last couple of weeks to de-stress after the mania of essay deadlines.
1) Obligatory post-hand-in pub jaunt with coursemates, ideally with a cute animal in attendance (mashed potato optional). Rule number one: you DO NOT talk about essays. We chose our regular Eng Lit MA haunt, the Pen and Wig, on Park Grove. Jonathan brought Sabrina the Sausage (adorable mini Daschund) who joined in the celebrations.
2) Eurovision Song Contest drinking games (Ok, this was not technically after essay hand-in date, but a welcome and deserved break the weekend before). I invented a drink to facilitate this activity, mixing cinnamon whisky liqueur with ginger beer (henceforth known as The Ginger Dragon).
3) Kite flying. For people, like me, who went many years without having flown a kite since childhood, you have to try it again. It is one of the best feelings in the world. It clears your mind, it lifts your soul. Here is a picture of me kite flying by way of a demonstration. Yes, that is a smiley frog on my kite. Cheerful cartoon animals definitely add to the experience.
4) Have a bonfire. I’m not suggesting you burn your books or essay notes – you might need them again one day! Marshmallows are, however, fundamental to the effectiveness of this activity.
5) Grow something. Digging your hands into a bag of compost, watering and watching something grow, is very relaxing, battles with tyrannical greenhouse-dwelling spiders notwithstanding. Despite the fact that my track record with gardening suggests that everything I touch dies, I am soldiering on and trying again with three varietals of tomatoes (Pomodoro Plums, Black Russian, and Yellow Peardrop, for anyone who’s interested).
6) Cook an elaborate three course dinner for no one but yourself, while listening to loud funk and soul. For a really good de-stress I would recommend paella for the main event.
7) Read a book totally unrelated to your degree. My book of choice was Nick Harkaway’s wonderful debut novel, The Gone Away World.
8) Walk out along Worm’s Head (Rhossili, Gower). This serpentine outcrop of rock is accessible for just two and a half hours before and after low tide before the sea cuts you off from the land. You clamber over jagged rocks and climb up hilly crags, dare to traverse Devil’s Bridge, watch for seals and seabirds and race the incoming tide. The view from the very end is spectacular, and the ‘outer head’ could be the edge of the world. I challenge anyone to feel stressed staring out from Worm’s Head.