This time last year, during my first experience of the mythological (and, arguably, overhyped) Week Five blues, I was really starting to feel the weight of Cambridge. The clocks went back and the days were getting shorter, the essays were piling up, and freshers’ flu was weighing me down. Staying in bed seemed a nicer prospect than moving.

I say Week Five is ‘overhyped’ because the sadness so typical of it isn’t just something I experienced in Week 5, and it wasn’t something that was cured by special college welfare events or my college parents leaving chocolate in my pidge. And, whilst there’s a definite argument to be made about the overworking, unsustainable, competitive Cambridge culture bogging students down, this year I’m making small, manageable changes to keep those blues at bay.

Dealing with Week Five starts with baby steps, like eating healthily, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep. However, if you’re looking to go above and beyond like me, here are a few tips on how to make your Week Five even a tiny bit better.

Keep your room bright

The nights are getting longer, but I’m trying to chase away the darkness by keeping my room as light and bright as possible. I do this with side lights, fairy lights, and even glow-in-the-dark stars. I keep my curtains open for as long as is socially acceptable every day, and I’ve found that having white bed sheets can even help keep a room from feeling too shadowy.

Take mindful breaks

If I’m at a loose end with my work, it’s time to take a mindful break. Sitting and struggling is both painful and unproductive, so instead I take a walk. I personally like to make use of my college’s ‘nature walk’ (a wood-chipped trail through a treed area of college that transports you, however briefly, away from the city), but also just walking around and soaking in the beautiful courts can be enough. As it’s getting colder and wetter, this is getting more difficult, but even walking around the library or sitting in a comfier seat for a while can be useful. This is a great time to check in with yourself, scan yourself for stress, and generally just be kind to yourself — you deserve a break!

“Feeling less like life is just an onwards trudge to your next essay deadline”

Plants are a source of life

Another room-decor one, but, in my experience, having a plant to look after encourages me to look after myself. I made a deal with myself that, every time I water my plants, I should also wash my face or moisturise. But anything could work: have a big glass of water, use some hand cream, or just have a meditative moment to yourself. Plants are also really pretty and aesthetic, and stop a room looking so lifeless.

Don’t eat alone!

For every meal, anyway. Cooking with friends or going to the cafeteria together can break up a day really nicely. It’s also a good opportunity to check in with how friends are feeling, what’s happening in people’s lives, and feeling less like life is just an onwards trudge to your next essay deadline.

Relax with art

Last year I discovered the incredibly niche hobby of completing dot-to-dots (preferably with lots of dots). They’re the perfect combination of satisfying puzzle and relaxing (and beautiful) art. The same goes for ‘Sticker by Number’ books, mindful colouring books, and other relaxing art projects aimed at adults. Even just ordinary drawing works! This is the perfect thing to do if you’re in need of a mindful break, and it doesn’t have to be art-related. Oftentimes, the most relaxing things to do are the things you enjoyed most as a child — whether that’s dot-to-dots like me, or sudokus, baking, building with Lego, or even just going for a run.


Mountain View

Top tips for Freshers’ Week and beyond

Find a reason to get out of the house, everyday, without exception

Even if it’s raining, even if I’m feeling down, even if my bed is cosy and warm, getting out of the house (whether to see people, to go to the library, to grab some food, or just to go for a walk) is a literal life-saver. I am personally also expanding this to getting out of college: having so many amenities at my fingertips means staying within college grounds for days on end is easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for me.

A lot of people talk about the ‘Cambridge bubble,’ and how amazing it feels to escape it. Indeed, I spent a lot of time last year longing to leave the stress and anxiety of Cambridge behind. Week Five is the ideal time to get a break from Cambridge, but we can’t all feasibly escape the bubble during term time (as a student from the north, for me it’s not as simple as a 1-hour train journey — for many students, it’s even more difficult). Instead, we can use methods like these to make the bubble better, even if just a little bit.