I would like to preface this article with a note that this is in no way a means of making light of fifth week blues, but rather an attempt to put a positive spin on some tricky times.
Dear readers, last week I decided it was time to forget the fifth week blues and attempt something new instead – the sixth week oranges! By the time you are reading this, weeks five and six will have come and gone, but my methods of cheering myself up will still stand! As a busy term comes towards a close, I think we could all use some delightful self-care.
Yes, I have insufferably decided to Polly-Anna my way through sixth week in an attempt to offset the fifth week blues.
However, before we get to my teeth-ache inducing optimism let’s first have an actual consideration of the fifth week blues:
I had the revelation the other day that being sad makes me feel bad. Now, I know what you’re thinking, ‘um duh, Freya (and good rhyme!)’. What I mean to say is that although being sad is obviously not a good feeling, it’s a feeling that I get angry at myself for feeling. It feels distracting, a waste of my time, quite frankly irritating. This term has had some sad moments for me that I will not divulge, and they have taught me the lesson that sometimes you just are sad, and that is okay. Let yourself be sad. Sit in the sadness, if only for five minutes, and realise that it is just an emotion, just a feeling. Don’t try and push through or ignore the sadness because it will inevitably creep up on you and suddenly you will be sat in bed sobbing at First Dates while your unwritten essay lurks, a haunting blue W at the bottom of your screen, and there will be mouldy coffee cups around you, and you’ll sob louder as you shake bourbon biscuit crumbs from your bra.
Of course no one wants to feel sad forever. So, here’s how to have the week six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven …. (you get the gist) oranges.
Step One: (and this one is really going to surprise you all!)
Have a boogie. It would seem silly, given my assertions last week, to not immediately suggest to you all that you have a dance this week. But I honestly do think there is nothing like having a dance for making you feel better. It’s such a reminder that, when you really think about it, life is so silly. Look, I have arms and legs and I can wiggle them in funny little positions to music! Silly, but brilliant.
Buy a coffee, or a tea, or a hot chocolate, or make a really fancy drink at home and put it in an equally fancy mug. Take it to your desk and occasionally sip it while typing really furiously, even just typing random letters. Now don’t you feel sophisticated and on top of things? This is how people in work, in business, high-flyers (probably) feel.
Potato waffles. Potato waffles are, to quote an advert from the 80s, “waffely versatile”. They can be made in the toaster, the oven, you could probably fry them, I reckon you could even do that thing where you cook things in a dishwasher (I mean I wouldn’t recommend it). They’re good for breakfast, for a little afternoon snack, after a night out, with beans. Our freezer is full of them.
Realise how silly everything is at this uni. Like so, so silly. We have tutorials in small rooms with world-leading academics, we sit in libraries that are centuries old that have portraits on the walls of old beardy men who are probably significant, but I couldn’t actually tell you why. We wear gowns and do our exams while wearing school uniform even though we’re in our twenties. I genuinely think something that helped me through Prelims was looking at the beauty of the exam halls and around at all the people in gowns and white shirts. Although for a moment it made my imposter syndrome tell me that they were much cleverer than me, which prompted blatant fear, I suddenly realised… bloody hell! Look at all this! And they’re letting me just do it, write things that academics who wrote the theories on them will read, sit in this room – I might as well enjoy it then. And guess what – I did!
Look for a red kite and by look for a red kite I mean literally just look up. Oxford is full of red kites, the kite-tailed birds of prey. They are everywhere, they are huge and they are cool. I get excited every single time I see one. When everything feels a bit much, look up and see if you can spot a bird of prey flying over the Bod.
Step Six: (input from the public)
I have consulted the masses (my mates) and thus I would now like to offer you some thoughts from others, on how to get yourself through stressful times (Oxford)
- Given my last column this one is pretty close to my heart: a good playlist. This is crucial as it helps you with step one of this list. If you are in the market for a good collection, you could always peruse my last article and its accompanying playlist…
- Good snacks or a meal with friends, including eating lots of chocolate – food featured heavily, and for good reason. With Oxmas approaching I recommend you all run to Tesco and buy the lebkuchen (check spelling), which tastes of Christmas and happiness – leave some for me!
- A walk around Port Meadow, or, for those of us further away, any park – in short, a walk. Endorphins, exercise, pretending you are a model, stomping in large boots, springing in light shoes, stroking animals (ponies, cats, cows, dogs: note, location dependent) – these are all things that you could do or gain from a walk that make it a beneficial step in being orange not blue. Momentary divulsion – orange vs blue is a colour wheel-based separation, orange is a happy colour!
- Watching telly and having an early night. Log off from the gruelling world of academics and plug in to television.
These are just some of my and my friends’ tried and tested methods for little moments of happiness. Of course, you don’t need me, a random writer in a student newspaper, to explain doing fun activities to you. But through writing this I remembered what makes me happy, and then I did some of them, and it felt truly good. I realised essays can be hard, but they can also be fun, and they can also be difficult, but then I can have a dance afterwards. Life may be blue sometimes, but I’m going to look for bursts of orange, and I think you should too.
Image Credit: Rogério Martins via Pexels.