DIY Stress Management

Woman (DIY carpenter) sawing through a table. Today I feel a real need to rearrange all the furniture in the house or start a DIY project.  Much to Jelly Bean’s and my husband’s dismay, these are my two favorite ways to relieve stress.  That would be a very welcome thing just now.

I do not move Jelly Bean’s bed, the chair she likes to sleep in right next to my desk, or the sofa near the window where she naps and watches the neighborhood. My creative rearranging process is limited to her toy boxes, which she watches carefully.  My husband is not as lucky.  He has never asked me not to rearrange his domestic sanctum, so I rearrange at will.  Some of my DIY projects are legendary. We laugh about most of them. I can tell that my husband is still a little confounded by my DIY inspiration and motivation, regardless of my stress relief prescription.

This week has been stressful. My darling little Jelly Bean has not been feeling well, my job is more demanding than ever, and my course, ‘Victorians’ is bothering me to distraction. That is a prelude for moving almost every stick of furniture in the house or grabbing my hammer or paint brush. No matter how much I study, I do not feel like there is enough time to master ‘Victorians’ sufficiently.

It helps to remind myself that legions of academic professionals dedicate their entire careers to study of the Victorian period.  The secondary reading material is interesting, often complex, almost always comprehensive, and there is a lot of it. I needed a few days to read and comprehend one article on Victorian aesthetics and four hours to summarize it.

With that amount of time dedicated to one article during my revising process, you can guess who will be writing about the aesthetics of the Victorian novel in exams. Despite my effort and the quality of the work I produced, which I think is among my very best efforts, my confidence level on the topic is a bit low despite enjoying it so much.

This week I tried again to narrow my set of primary prose texts. It is difficult to identify a few texts that can offer the most flexibility at exam time and cover the range of material required by the course.  And that does not include drama or poetry.

Maybe this is a course best approached by topic rather than by text. Unfortunately, that revelation might have come a little late. Today, my revising focus must switch to another course, and I must declare myself satisfied with my preparation for Victorian Literature.  There will be a few days to revise right before the exam, but really not very much time for anything but a review.

To manage my study calendar, my schedule, and my nerves to best advantage I decided to rearrange the order in which I will revise my courses. Today I will use my time to revise a selection of Victorian poetry then move on to my next course, The Novel, instead of the course in Nineteenth-Century American Literature.

By revising The Novel for the next two weeks, I can give a little more time to Victorian prose texts. Week one of revising for The Novel can focus on Victorian works and the second week will focus on Nineteenth-century American Literature.  Then I will move on to two weeks dedicated just to Nineteenth-Century American Literature. This should keep me on time and allow additional study of my primary prose texts for Victorian Literature.

That should take care of Victorian prose and poetry. With any luck, a local theater company will produce some of Shaw and Wilde’s work between now and the first of May. That would be very helpful indeed, for revising and for a little metal distraction during this hectic time.

Now it is time for some stress management.   I will let you know if the furniture gets rearranged or my DIY urges carry the day.

Caowrites is studying the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes. She lives in Pittsburgh in the United States.

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