Izzy Wilkinson and Martha Gazzard with permission for Varsity

Exam season has fallen upon us once more, and with it, a thick layer of mental unrest has descended upon my head. However, as an anthropology student, I must have faith in my humanity, so I, Martha Gazzard, have decided to embark on a journey of mindfulness. Every week, I will relax in ways recommended to me by my nearest and dearest, so that you, my loyal and adoring readers, may cut straight to the chase and choose the stress-melting activity of your wildest fantasies.

Before we begin, I would like to take a moment to formally apologise to the readers of Varsity, and specifically to my section editor (sorry Lauren). I forgot, nay neglected, to take pictures of my endeavours, and so this beautifully edited cover picture of me completing all three activities at once will have to do. This will not happen again. On with the show.

In the face of looming deadlines and no will to work, I decided to start gently, easing myself into this new and scary world of peace by choosing a friend who had similar ideas about chillaxing to me. Please welcome to the lifestyle section: Clem Fandango*.

“Running, cooking, and smoking. Truly the triathlon for the sophisticated man”


For my instructions, I texted Clem to ask what he does to relax, and I received a reply in a series of emojis: running, cooking, and smoking. Truly the triathlon for the sophisticated man. As a self-proclaimed athlete (Middlesex U13s girls cricket team and captain of the C-squad for rounders in Year 9), I decided to tackle the run first, slogging up the hill to Highgate Woods and then completing an ambitious slow jog while looking like a red and sweaty bollock. My phone died halfway through, so I was left with only a cumbersome pair of headphones, dangling around my wet neck like a sort of paralytic snake, and my mental to-do list, until I managed to stagger home feeling more stressed than when I left. However, although the actual act of running was genuinely horrid and mortifying, it did make me feel morally superior for the rest of the day, and I bragged to my dad that I had gone for a run – what the hell had he done with his day? (He had gone to the gym). As a general mental health exercise, I think lots of people find that running is great, and I don’t doubt you get better the more you do it – for me personally, I found that I got quite sweaty and stressed and then had sore legs the next day, and this coupled with my already crushing stress about dissertation deadlines made me think that maybe running isn’t the thing for me. 3.5/10


Never fear though, dear reader! I still had other recommended avenues to explore, and explore I did. I decided to cook one of my favourite meals, a lemony roast chicken with crispy potatoes and whatever veg was in the fridge. This was, in a word, delightful. I attacked the kitchen with confidence, shoving a lemon up my chicken with real gusto and popping some goose fat on my potatoes, with the dulcet tones of James Taylor in the background. Only once did I get upset, and in hindsight it was my fault that I got grease on my jeans. I’m sure it’ll come out in the wash anyway. At the end of my mindfulness activity, I sat down at the table with my family and ate the fruits of my relaxation, and what a treat it was. I felt mindful, chill, even zen. Best of all, my legs felt completely normal. 10/10.

“If the only light you can find right now is a little glowing one at the end of a fag, knock yourself out”


Finally, I had a cigarette. Now, I am actually a smoker in my real life, and so I am not unaccustomed to the effects of smoking on both mental and physical health – I was once so stressed in the library that I went for a smoke and cried on the paper, rendering it unsmokeable and quite salty when it had dried out. This, however, was almost a proactive cigarette, trying to keep the stress-wolf from the mind-door, and it was nice. It was a blem. I have nothing else to say about it – smoking is actually quite unremarkable, no matter what the freshers think, and so I felt much the same afterwards. 7/10.

All in all, my week was a journey for my mind, my soul, and my mouth and body, and I think it was a pretty good way to start my mental health journey – two activities I already indulge in, and one I do not care to indulge in again. If you personally care to run, go for it! Just remember that the only way you are guaranteed to gain joy from it is by gloating.


Mountain View

Notebook: Auden, Pret, and dissertation stress

Cambridge, for all its joys, is horrific, and so is exam term. I promise that there is a light at the end of the exam tunnel, but if the only light you can find right now is a little glowing one at the end of a fag, knock yourself out.

*names changed for anonymity