Despite the bad publicity they can sometimes get, emotional purges can be an important part of human nature. Sure, “blowing off some steam” feels good, but, much more importantly, it serves a cathartic purpose: Purges — the sudden release of emotions after being “pent-up” or “stressed out” for a while —allow us to have fun for a little bit, and to come out afterwards feeling fresh and productive. If we’re angry, we can go whack a punching bag for half an hour, sweat it all out and move on with our lives. If we’re sad, we put on a sappy movie, bawl our eyes out and feel better afterwards. And, if we just happen to have three midterms in a row and two essays due in the same week, we freakin’ rage our faces off the following weekend.

You probably guessed it: I’m talking about Halloween. But I’m not here to warn you about the perils of partying too hard this weekend. The only thing I will say about that is DO NOT touch the pretty horses on DP, trust me. No, I’m here to tell you that a night of harmless debauchery might actually lead you to being more productive later on — as long as it’s done right.

They key to making your purges productive is balance. Like all things, equilibrium needs to be reached. Too much “blowing off steam,” can be detrimental in the long run, and not just to your liver. These purges should be a once-in-a-while reward — something to look forward to if it’s deserved. If you accomplish something great, you should celebrate, both to commemorate your achievement and to give your body and mind a little “R and R.” However, overdo it and, like some sort of demented Pavlov’s dog, you’ll just be conditioning yourself to jump to your purges every time you face the slightest bit of stress.

Take the punching bag example: If I sock a bag every time I feel frustrated or angry, I’m conditioning myself, in the long run, to react to my anger with violence. But does this mean we should constantly bury our instincts, always holding in our natural reactions in life? I don’t think so. These purges are what make us human. Feeling emotions, especially intense and spontaneous ones, is all a part of our nature, and completely denying ourselves of them is just as bad as always giving in to them. Going wild and crazy a few times make us feel what we are — alive. True, catharsis isn’t good if you give in to it too much, but, then again, nothing is good for you in excess.

I always try (key word, try) to plan ahead, setting aside days where I know I’ll be working to get stuff done, and other days where I’ll be free to just screw off and do whatever I want. And, I don’t know about you, but Halloween definitely seems like a perfect time for this; a small weekend oasis in the desert known as fall quarter, isolated by oceans of midterms and essays.

We all know that UCSB gets a bad rap for perhaps being a little too “cathartic” sometimes. But, as every Gaucho will tell you, our focus on getting junk done applies to both recreation and productivity. Basically, we work hard and we play hard, and as long as the two are in balance, there is nothing wrong with that. Just have your catharsis under control — don’t let your catharsis control you.

So go ahead and show the world just how hard you can rage this Halloween weekend; you’ve probably deserved it. But please be smart safe in the process. After all, you have to live if you want to be cathartic again next weekend.

Jay Grafft wants to warn you that, “But officer, I was just purging,” is not an excuse that will get you out of the drunk tank. Trust him on this one.

Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, October 28, 2013 print edition of the Daily Nexus.