How are you feeling after RAG week?

For readers that may not know, RAG week, aka Raise & Give week, is a college-centred week-long event that happens once a year in most colleges in Ireland. In essence, RAG week is a charitable occasion, being made up of a bunch of various different events spread out over a college week that are organised with the aim of raising money for charities, with a different few charities being chosen to receive the money each year. A great idea; fun for a cause, right? Yes, RAG does raise a significant amount of money for some great charities. It is, however, something entirely different under the surface.

It is a huge, massive, session (in the words of urban dictionary, “The word ‘Party’ is dead. Session is the new word to describe any event that has a group of people getting wasted.”). This is not a surprise to anyone. We all know exactly what RAG week means when we hear it, and donating to and raising money for charities is not the first thing we think of when we hear the words. My experience of RAG week, as a University College Cork student, is based on that of Cork City. Students take to the bars by noon, on and off campus, every day from Monday to Friday, engaging in merriment and banter with fellow students and friends, filling up each and every club in the city no later than 11 o’clock each night. Food from 3 to 4am on the way back to the gaffer (house party), might be lucky enough to get some sleep from about 5am until 9am, possibly, or even just an hour or two at some point before noon, then repeat all of the above. We are filthy creatures. College road moulds itself into a party-central happening spot (even more so than usual) that, for the week, never sleeps and is reminiscent of festival grounds and vibes.

This post isn’t about RAG week, though. (Honestly, the ‘pros and cons’ and ‘for and against’ is a bit of a heated debate I am not going to get into). This is a post-RAG week post; one about the weekend after. For those that engaged in UCC’s RAG week, which ran from Monday 11th February to Friday 15th February (always coincides with Valentine’s Day), how are you feeling? Just tired? Completely drained? Close to death? I personally had a relatively tame RAG week, going out only 2 nights (3 if I include the night away for Valentine’s on which a lot of prosecco, gin and rum were consumed) and getting back to a friends house at a reasonable hour (4am) far away enough from college road to get a great 5 hours sleep. Regardless of how close to dying you and your liver, and your mental wellbeing, are this weekend, can we just take a secound to think about what we put our bodies through sometimes? It’s really rough. I am not saying we should regret it and stop going out, not at all (although there is a ball passed which you really are just doing the dog on it, as they say); but it’s no harm to be aware of the damage it can cause and to ensure that we allow our bodies the time to recover.

So, really, this is a bit of an after-sesh self-care post; a little what-to-do in the days after a night, or nights, or week, out.

Sleep. You lost out on more than you think, because during those 4 hours that you did manage to get at the end of the night before having to get up for lectures or worse: work, the alcohol in your system prevented you from getting to that stage of deep-sleep called REM sleep, which is the most important kind. There is a great article on the effects of alcohol and sleep quantity and quality here, if you’re interested.

Hydrate. Alcohol, albeit a liquid, dehydrates us. Even if you were cute enough to make sure you had a glass of water in between each alcoholic one during the night out, you’ll still need a lot of rehydration the day after. It’s tough drinking water when you’re feeling a particular way, but do try – have dilute in it if you have to. Any liquid is better than none, except for anything with alcohol in it, obviously.

Eat. Carbs are the best on normal days, and even better on hungover days. They will absorb what vile poison you’ve poured into your stomach. At least, it feels that way. Even if that isn’t really what happens, carbs help, and they’re yummy. Even if I feel great after a night out I indulge in all my favourite carbs. Any excuse, including no excuse, amiright?

Give it a rest. Have a break, have a *night in*. You don’t have to go out every single night you have the opportunity to. Contrary to what you might believe or fear, you are not going to miss out on anything that important. To hell with the fear of missing out; it will not hurt you (in fact it will really help you, your wallet and your head, both physically and mentally) to just stay in. Have a chill night. Have a hot shower, put on cosy clothes, throw on one of your favourite movies or one you’ve been dying to see, and make sure you have all of your favourite snacks on hand. You can even get your full 8 hours sleep, if you’re really loving yourself. Wild.

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