The daily grind: How to chill out

All wound up? An undergraduate, a postgraduate and an employee give their tips. By Ben Lummis
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The Independent Online

"We have to do a lot of group work in marketing and computer games are a great way for us to have a break from the books, break the ice and get to know one another. It's really good for building team morale without killing too many brain cells at the pub.

Most sport games are great for this, but FIFA 07is my pick of the latest crop. The player animation is much more enhanced than in FIFA 06, and the game is so realistic that people who are just watching rather than playing can really get involved as well.

We have had many an argument over a foul; sometimes the referee is fair, but sometimes he makes the wrong call and the atmosphere can get a bit tense. Perhaps we take it a bit too seriously, but we haven't ended up head-butting each other just yet!"

Dave, 25, animator

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, £8.99

"I like to do a lot of different things to unwind when I get home: cook myself a good meal, see my girlfriend, etc, but I'm kind of addicted to computer games now, which is a habit I am trying to break. It all started during high school, when I played every day. Then I started university and I was clean for a few years, but now I'm back on it and have put myself on a disciplined reading programme to escape it all.

A friend just lent me Shantaram, a really good book. It's a true story about a bank robber who escapes from a prison in Australia and winds up in India and forms a new life there. I highly recommend it. He has a lot of cash when he gets to Bombay, so he lives in hotels to start with, but then he makes friends with a local guide, gets to know the area, loses all his money and ends up living in the slums.

He has a bit of medical training though, and he gains some respect for helping the poor. After some chance meetings, he gets involved with the Indian Mafia and it basically spirals from there into a bunch of crazy adventures.

Roberts' account makes for a great story and it has made me really keen to travel. I hear Johnny Depp is making a movie of it now [due out in 2008], so I am eager to see how the film adaptation goes."

Simon, 28, PhD structural biology student

Shine On, by Jet £8.99

"I like to get outside and play a bit of sport in my spare time because it gives me the chance to focus my energy on something a bit more active than slaving over a keyboard. Trouble is, it tends to rain a fair bit in this country so I'm stuck inside a lot. I try to avoid the TV because I always seem to be staring at a computer screen during the day. When I get home, I like to give my eyes a rest and listen to some music and maybe have a beer.

I grew up on The Rolling Stones and The Beatles but lately I've been getting into Jet and their new album Shine On. They have a tendency to be a bit commercial but I their music is really catchy, and the up-tempo style has a positive feel about it. I suppose I wouldn't really describe it as relaxing or soothing, but it's good to listen to when you get home tired on a Friday night and want to lift yourself up to go out and hit the streets."

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