Written by Susan Hanks



From dancing to baking, we’ve all got our own way of unwinding. It doesn’t matter how we do it, says Susan Hanks, as long as we get it done.

Illustrations by Harriet Carmichael

My reckoning is that everyone has a restorative device.

I remember, as a child, my dad had a Friday night ritual of coming home from work. He’s have a bath hot enough to cook squid in, then position himself next to the hi-fi, with his headphones on, listening to his vinyl/tapes/CDs (delete as appropriate to the year in question) at a volume that has now resulted in a hearing problem (in addition to what my mum terms as his ‘selective hearing’ issue). He’d sip his home brew and look completely vacant and content. This pattern continued for as long as I can remember growing up. I don’t know exactly what he was drowning out with his heavy metal din, but we understood it as his prerogative to do so. Funnily enough it appeared to cease at the same time as the youngest child (me) flew the nest.

Many of my friends bake to take them to a happy place which suits me perfectly. Not to sound completely selfish, but if a stressful week for them at work results in my being greeted by a batch of breads and a variety of cupcakes then all is not lost. Kneading dough and needing a brain break apparently goes hand in floury hand, and never one to bite that hand, I always oblige to keep them company in the sampling segment of the exercise.

Some people go running. That’s all I have to say about that.

I know that for many, and at times myself included, a good-old-fashioned knees-up is enough to blow away the cobwebs of worry. If you love music, socialising and aren’t crippled by self loathing and consciousness on the dance floor, a sweaty Saturday night swaying session could be your answer to unwinding.

One night recently, in a county not far from me, a kindred spirit was kind enough to save me from another weekend trip to the corner shop with only one purchase intended. And not just because she is my best friend and has a sixth sense for these things, but because she was looking for a comrade to help fight the war against – well, opening the wine and letting it all go to shit.

An hour and one hot ear later, I reasoned it was far too late to continue (who am I kidding, start) the routine drill of attacking the to-do list. Instead, I opted to replace the calories I had burned off earlier at my spin class (totally showing off now) by firing Malteaser missiles into my mouth. Much preferring that kind of ‘crunching’ to the type that makes my abs scream, I polished off the packet and thought about how much I love my mate.

So, when life pours you a strong and bitter gin, don’t forget the tonic. Whether you serve yours with ice and a slice, use it to dilute your head noise, top it with icing, sweat it out at the disco, or dial it in on a fatigue-filled Friday night, it can help to keep your glass topped up nicely.

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Written by Susan Hanks

Presenter on Moorlands Radio 103.7FM Drive Time, weekdays 4-7pm. Join Susan in 'shaking what ya mamma gave ya' for the daily Derriere Dance. Rhythm/leotard not essential.