IMG_3849Gladstone Park, London, Spring 2017

Hello, my dearest (and potentially imaginary) readers. I have compiled a list of tips to help you hack your way through a tricky time. I have often wished someone had sat me down in my first exam term and told me to be gentle with myself, and not to work an unhealthy amount. The bottom line with academic work is that everybody is different, and you’ve just got to find a rhythm that works for you. Nonetheless I hope you find something in here that is worthwhile. Nothing is more important than your mental and physical health.

  • Listen to angry music. Music increases testosterone in women, and decreases it in men. I don’t care what it is, just turn it on, please (with the exception of anything with misogynistic lyrics; that shit is BAD for the soul). I’d however recommend Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, by My Chemical Romance. Listen to what makes you feel empowered and in control. You have got this.
  • Have a bath. PLEASE. Get out the bubble bath, the ducks, the half eaten Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the floating ship if you feel compelled to uphold your masculinity (gratuitous tip: let it go) the white wine, even another human being. Just get in the bath. It’s so hard to feel stressed when your body is submerged in warm water.
  • Play sport. You do not have to be good. Fall over. Injure yourself and your tennis partner. They’ll heal fine and the bruises will give you a cool story, bro.
  • GO OUTSIDE. Whoever told you you can’t revise in the sun was lying. Sun is good for the skin. Also, we’re not in Troy anymore – everyone looks good with a tan.
  • Have breakfast. I don’t care what it is, cereal, a lone banana, eggs on toast spread with a subtle combination of mashed avocado and lime and a sliver of prosciutto, WHATEVER, Aldi is ten minutes out of town. COOK.
  • Cuddle your friends, yourself, your secret dog that college doesn’t know about. Touching your own chest with a tender palm releases the same comforting hormones as it would if someone else was doing it.
  • Lie on the grass for ten minutes on your college lawn. Cambridge is beautiful. Look at it.
  • Doodle endlessly, without psychoanalysing your doodles. It’s good for you.
  • Go to bed early and don’t work past 6pm when you can. There’s no need. Your body needs rest.
  • Get the hell out of your college library. Cambridge offers itself up to you. If you think you need complete silence to work in, try another library. AMES is great and always empty because so few people study AMES!!!! Once I had to move because a lady came to water the plant I was sitting in front of. Yes AMES! Nature over academia any day.
  • Wear unnecessarily sexy clothes to do menial tasks. Who says you can’t look like a princess just because all you’re doing is picking up some flour from Sainsbury’s? You’re gorgeous. Own it.
  • Listen to songs you’re embarrassed you used to love. I’ve just rediscovered Unfaithful by Rihanna and it is the. bomb. You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift is something you should play exuding an almost offensively fearless and apologetic air as you stride, swaying slightly, down King’s Parade. Same goes for MCR, Paramore, Green Day, Avril Lavigne. Crack out those classics when you need a lift; you used to love these songs for a reason.
  • Keep a diary. Not a work diary, obv. Just something where you can catch your future self up with how your day’s been whenever you feel like it.
  • Above all. Listen to your body. If it’s crying out for rest, get into the bath or into bed. If it wants to go outside take it for a wander. A 20 minute walk can work wonders. As can a 5 minute cycle. Feel the sun on your face. Try not to walk into any lampposts or other moving humans.
  • Be kind. Remember everyone else is worried about work too. Open a door for someone, smile at someone you suspect hates you. Look after your friends, and remember to call your mum. You got this.

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Guilin, China, Summer 2017

Image credit: Hannah Chukwu

3 thoughts on “How to look after yourself in exam term

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