Massage the right side of your brain: Ways to get creative and de-stress

| Senior Scene Editor

We’ve officially hit the point in the semester where everyone’s energy is starting to flag. Netflix is more enticing than a party. Waking up, even for a noon class, seems like it might kill you. Yeah, we’re all there.

But even though we’re all exhausted, there is still so much to be done, both in the exciting sense and with the dreadful approach of exams. It’s easy to forget all the wonderful things about school, but getting in touch with your creativity can really boost your energy level.

Presumably, you’re here because you love learning. Here are some ways to boost yourself out of the mid-semester slump by tapping into your creative flow.

Do something intellectual just because you want to

None of us has a shortage of reading or writing to be done for class, but picking up a book that wasn’t assigned to you can be strangely relaxing. Next time you’re in Olin Library, browse the fiction stacks and pick up a novel. I realize how crazy it sounds, but I never thought to look for pleasure reading there until a friend of mine lent me a collection of Joan Didion essays she had just checked out. Or if you just need an afternoon break, grab a copy of the New York Times or The New Yorker and sit down for a cup of coffee in Holmes Lounge. Reading interesting things will spark your imagination, and maybe you’ll even come up with a thesis for that research paper you’ve been meaning to start.

Spend an afternoon working on a project

Whatever you like to do—draw, paint, bedazzle, collage—just take an hour or so and do it. I find that turning on some music and silencing my phone make this kind of time a lot more restorative. Even if you’re not a great artist, sometimes the process is a lot more rewarding than the product. For a more formalized approach, the St. Louis Art Museum holds classes for adults, and a new schedule is just about to be released.

Go to a reading

Both the English department and Left Bank Books host a variety of authors throughout each semester. For instance, Piper Kerman, the author of “Orange is the New Black,” was at Left Bank in September. On campus, the English department’s Fall Graduate Colloquium is being held Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. in Duncker Hall. Plus, there’s always wine, cheese and cookies served afterward in Duncker. If you can’t get to a reading, maybe stream a TED Talk or a spoken-word performance on YouTube. Let your mind wrestle with something you’re not being tested on.

Attend a performance or concert

There is no shortage of campus groups to delight your senses. Sometimes, though, getting out in St. Louis can be just what you need. Maybe grab a friend and go see a performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Peabody Opera House to get in the holiday spirit before exams steal away all your free time.

Host a painting party

Much to the delight of suburban housewives the world over, the wine and painting party has become quite the trend. But who wants to pay the exorbitant amount that many venues charge? Just buy some paint and canvases and invite your friends over for a night in. It sounds really stupid, but it’s actually a lot of fun. If you do feel like actually going out, try Pinot’s Palette, which is just 20 minutes away in Chesterfield.

Throw your own coffeehouse

If your friends are talented, or even if they’re just game for anything, put together your own lineup. Just set up a Facebook event and ask people to sign up for spotlight performances. I’ve attended a few such events at Washington University and they never disappoint. From the ultra-serious poetry types to the acoustic versions of Iggy Azalea, there will be something for everyone. And even if you don’t actually perform, I think you’ll figure out a way to have some fun.

Experiment in the kitchen

If you have one, the kitchen is a great place to de-stress. If you’re feeling ambitious, head to the Farmers Market in Soulard and pick up some fresh ingredients for a healthy dinner. Let what’s in season lead you in a direction. But if you’re more the type to dump a bag of cookie mix in a bowl, go for it. Pinterest always has great ideas for easy baking recipes, particularly individual-serving cakes. Sharing is overrated, after all.

Here’s to hoping that you find time off from your schedule of homework to indulge in something besides Netflix. The nightlife schedule is beginning to dwindle away as Olin fills up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find interesting ways to recharge.

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