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Pre-exam chill out

The Alternative Treat by Gemma Clark

We’ve all been there. It’s the end of a long day, or the end of a stressful week and we think “I need a treat”.
That ‘treat’ is usually something decadent or indulgent or delicious or expensive – none of which as good for us in the long run. We might feel great for 20 minutes, sitting in a onesie, slippers on, vino in one hand, Chinese take-out carton in the other, laptop on knee, credit card details on hand. But once the hangover and food coma set in, the empty bank account will grumble at you and you’ll wonder if you really needed to go on that spending spree. The answer, is NO.
All because you had a bad day.
So shut down the Paypal account, close the SALE tabs and dump the take-out menus. There are much healthier (and cheaper!) ways to treat yo self! And here they are…

1. Read a book

Turn off all tech, make yourself a cozy little cubby hole somewhere in your house, get on your comfiest clothes, grab a beverage and read! It has been scientifically proven that taking time away from your electronics is good for you and that the blue light of screens can lead to difficulty sleep, poor concentration and even has even been related to depression. Take some time to read whenever you can, perhaps on your journey to/from work/college/uni, or, right before you go to bed. Doing this has been proven to improve sleep quality and memory.

2. Take a nap

Young woman sleeping on bed in student dorm, head resting on books
Young woman sleeping on bed in student dorm, head resting on books

Students in particular have terrible sleeping patterns and it’s a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Taking a 20 minute nap aids memory and will make you feel fresh. The Spanish know what’s up when it comes to the old power nap! Pour a little lavender oil on your pillow for an extra special sleep time.

3. Go Outside – Without Your Phone

Take a walk! And do so without your phone! That’s important. Let yourself have a moment between you, your ipod and the open road. Don’t have a destination, just wander. Maybe even flip a coin when you reach a turn to decide which way to go. Once you get over the separation anxiety you will feel it liberating.

Don’t have time to take a walk? Go outside on your lunch break! Getting away from your desk is so important and can boost productivity and motivation. But still leave your phone behind!

4. Meditate

Young african american woman meditating in nature
Young african american woman meditating in nature

Meditation can calm nerves and increase focus. Take 10 minutes out of your day to sit and relax, be mindful and de-stress. There are loads of different kinds of meditation so there is at least one to suit everyone. You might be a passive meditator, so sitting or laying comfortably, perhaps with a guided meditation app playing, might be for you. Or, maybe you are more active, in which case, what about Tai Chi? Community centres often run classes in this.

5. Use an adult colouring book

Adult colouring books are all the rage right now and they are fun, relaxing and give you a sense of achievement. Release your creativity with any one of the myriad of designs and books on the market right now. (Top Tip!: pound shops sell colouring books too, so you don’t need to for out a tenner for one from a book shop!)

6. Go to an Art Gallery or Museum
Heres-How-To-Spend-24-Hours-For-Free-In-Edinburgh06 (1)

They are free and you can lose yourself for hours in the depths of histories you’ve never known, ideas you’ve never had, places you’ve never been and stories you’ve never heard. Art galleries and museums are a great way to spend an afternoon and they will culturally enrich you.

Think art’s not your thing? These days there are exhibitions for everything under the sun. Have a look online and you are sure to find one that catches your eye.

7. Go see a movie – on your own

No one will bug you through the whole thing and no one will be stealing your popcorn. You can actually sit and enjoy the film. If you are sitting in the dark, on your own, you can really take the time to enjoy the show and get in deep. Bask in the ambience and your own company.

If you’re not bold enough for that, grab a beverage and commit to the real Netflix and chill – you, your couch and jammies and whatever you want to binge watch! (I recommend Orphan Black!)