A photo by Julia Caesar. unsplash.com/photos/asct7UP3YDE

Navigating your Mental Wellbeing

Our UTS LSS Brennan Program Director and UTS LSS Student Wellbeing Blog contributor, Alice Zhang writes…

Mental illness is something that’s very prevalent in Australia, yet we often forget that mental illness cannot be switched off while you work, study, etc. Here’s some tips and resources to help navigate tricky emotions and symptoms while in law school.

Background Noise

Setting up some background noise can help increase productivity and also help with insomnia.

Keep putting off studying?

Procrastination is just a way of coping with anxiety or stress about the task you are trying to achieve. Try and take a small break and revisit the idea of the task, or break the task down to make it much more accessible and seem less scary.

  • Go for a walk
  • Make a to-do list with small achievable goals
  • Set a very small goal to get started
  • Get the supplies you need
  • Turn off your phone and close any social media
  • BoosterBuddy Phone App
    • Help your buddy by helping yourself! This app is particularly good for mental illness. On bad days you can select what you are struggling with and the app will give you small tasks to help you feel accomplished and get you out of bed or motivated.

Trying some slightly more creative study methods than just reading can help your memory and learning while making study a little more fun. Things to try:

  • Mind maps
  • Flashcards
  • Colour coded highlighting i.e. titles, terminology, definitions
    • Also helps you see how the piece is structured
  • Try different styles of handwriting
  • Pretend to teach
  • Spend a bit of time before and after class reviewing the material, and in a week, and a month review it again to refresh your memory

Distract Yourself

If you’re feeling like your anxious or negative thoughts are snowballing, try distracting yourself for a bit with some relaxing activities:

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness is a great way to curb unhelpful habits or ways of thinking! Try these free mindfulness and meditation apps:

  • Smiling mind
  • Stop, breathe, think
  • Digipill

Feeling low?

  • Compliment generator (refresh for more compliments: http://ourstereo.com/compliment/)
  • The Dawn Room:
    • Be comforted by kind messages while the night sky turns into dawn
  • Interrupt your negative thoughts and try to bring it back to the task in front of you
  • Remember that you are your own parent – speak to yourself and take care of yourself like you would your child!

Remember to seek professional help when it all gets a bit much to handle on your own! There are great services around such as headspace and Kids Helpline which are specifically targeted for young people under 25, Lifeline, the UTS Counselling service as well as bulk billing private psychologists that you can visit for free with a referral from your GP under the Mental Health Scheme (10 sessions) or ATAPS (12 sessions).

 

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Protein Charged Breakfast

Being a student, we bet you’re often rushed for time in the morning. Come the weekend though, say hello to indulgent homemade brekkie. It’s just the best way to start the day. Sipping on a nice cup of tea or coffee, it gives you the perfect opportunity to have a nice chat with your family and friends, read your favourite magazine/book, catch up on the news, or just take time to relax.

Here’s a simple, classic bacon and egg breakfast idea with an added little touch to it. And for those who are not a fan of bacon, we have you covered with a classic yogurt and muesli recipe.

Let’s be real, you’ll definitely find the time to make a nice breakfast now.

Option 1: Good Old Bacon and Eggs

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Ingredients:

  • Bacon (make sure it is free range).
  • Eggs
  • Mixed nuts to sprinkle on top (e.g. pepitas, cashews, almonds, etc.)
  • Baby tomatoes

Method:

  • Start by cooking your bacon on a high temperature. The trick is to flick it often.
  • Cut the baby tomatoes in half while the bacon is cooking.
  • Once the bacon is ready, cook up your eggs (should take about 3 minutes)
  • You can also cook your tomatoes at the same time as the eggs or you can have them raw, whichever option you prefer.
  • Once the eggs are ready, plate up! Sprinkle some nuts on top of it all for some added crunch and protein.

Option 2: Yogurt with Muesli and Fruit

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Ingredients:

  • Natural yogurt
  • Fresh fruit (e.g. strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, banana, mango, etc.)
  • Toasted muesli (for our homemade toasted muesli recipe, click here)
  • Honey (optional)
  • Nuts (optional)

Method:

  • Cut up the fresh fruit.
  • Scoop out some natural yogurt into a bowl.
  • Sprinkle your toasted muesli, fruit and a few nuts on top.
  • If needed, you can drizzle honey on top of it all. Most muesli is actually quite sweet to begin with so you probably won’t need any added sweetness but it’s always an option!
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5 Fitness Apps to Get Motivated

Our Student Wellbeing Advisory Group (SWAG) member and UTS LSS Wellbeing Blog contributor, Chanelle Nader writes…

We all know how important it is to incorporate exercise into our daily routines but if you’re anything like me sometimes the closest I get to exercising is double-tapping a fitness post on Instagram.

So if you’re in need of a little nudge or inspiration for your workouts look no further because here are some great fitness apps to get you started. The best features of these apps are most of them are FREE, interactive and fun (yes, I do know the definition of the word).

 CScreen Shot 2016-08-17 at 3.54.39 PMouch Potato to Running 5K

Train over 8 weeks from Couch Potato to finishing a 5k
m run using interactive alerts and audio commands. You can also sync the app to your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

PRICE: Free

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Nike + Training Club

Pick from over hundreds of different workouts for every fitness level from Nike trainers and famous athletes.

PRICE: Free

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PumpUp

Get amongst the fitfam community on this app which allows you to discover fitness topics, share progress photos and upload meal ideas. It also has great workout routines and lets you create your own workout.

PRICE: Free

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Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 3.53.51 PMMap My Run

This GPS Running and Workout Tracker gives you feedback and stats to improve your performance and personal best.

PRICE: Free

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Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 4.17.36 PMSweat With Kayla

The popular Kayla Itsines’s Bikini Body Guide is now in an app form which is highly interactive and quick to complete with 28 minute workouts.

PRICE: $4.61/week or $54.99/3 monthsScreen Shot 2016-08-17 at 4.17.51 PM

Beauty of a gram

Can your surroundings affect your mind and body?

This semester, the UTS LSS Student Wellbeing Blog would like to bring attention to how your surrounding, including how you use social media, can affect your mind and body. Our aim is to help you find balance and ground yourself.

To kick things off, our contributor Camille Maciejowski has written about the book Beauty of a Gram by P.Kern to open the door to this rather ‘difficult to talk about’ topic.

Now before we get stuck in, have a read of the following questions:

  • Do you ever scroll through your Instagram aspiring to be or look like some of the people you see?
  • Have you ever made comparisons between how you look and how others look based on what you see on the internet?
  • Do you sometimes feel like you’re numbing your brain or wasting your time by scrolling through Facebook with no real direction or meaning?
  • Have you ever felt like your life is pretty uneventful or that you’re not achieving much at all after watching numerous Snapchat stories?

These questions should have made you start thinking about (and maybe even reflect on) how you use social media and whether, in some instances, it actually makes you feel pretty crappy.

social media2

Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/i9LD4EcwUQE

Beauty of a Gram is about understanding the array of misleading attitudes towards diets, eating habits and distorted self-images that we are bombarded with every single day. It’s about helping you take a step back and understand the fact that, today more than ever, the media has instilled distorted self-images through unrealistic perfection benchmarks and ignorance of individuality. As a result, way too many people suffer from low self-confidence and negative self-talk, which can lead to serious detrimental consequences on both the mind and body. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Lucky for us, discussion about this topic is more and more common and it is through people like P. Kern that we can enliven the reality of what leading a positive and happy life actually means. Although Beauty of a Gram is mostly about dealing with negative body image and unhealthy vicious cycles of dieting, this concept is part of a much wider phenomenon.

As law students, we often set ourselves extremely high expectations whether it be getting unattainable high grades or slightly too ambitious career goals. Goal-setting is a great thing, but you should recognise when you are overstepping the mark and plunging yourself in an environment full of pressure. Thankfully, there is a way out! It starts with balance, being grounded and not letting social media or any of your surroundings push you over the edge of being unsatisfied with yourself.

We’ll bring you a number of other posts on this topic, so stay tuned!

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Berry Boost with a hint of Green

Confession: I’ve always been one for experimenting with ingredients, seeing what’s in the fridge & pantry and using it to create a new concoction! Sometimes this can end terribly, though not with this fool-proof recipe😉

Eating green doesn’t mean having green fruits or vegetables in every meal, it can be as simple as incorporating it into your favourite recipes. This refreshing juice with a hint of spinach can be the perfect morning snack or an uplifting boost after a workout session, simply follow these quick steps…

Ingredients Juice Booster Blog_Sonali_Image 2

1 cup of coconut water

1 cup of frozen berries

Handful of strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Half a banana (doesn’t matter whether it’s overripe)

Handful of baby spinach

1 cup of ice

 

Steps

  1. Cut all fresh fruit
  2. Place all ingredients into a nutribullet, juicer or mixer
  3. Combine
  4. Once smoothly blended, pour the juice into a glass or mason jar and enjoy!!

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Interfaculty Sports Tournament

The UTS LSS Sports Director and UTS LSS Wellbeing Blog contributor, Christian Bablanian writes…

Staying active is an imperative aspect of keeping both your physical and mental health in check, so making the choice to lead a more active lifestyle is a fantastic step towards improving your wellbeing. Getting involved in sport gives you an opportunity to stay active, take a break from your laptop screens, and have fun with your friends while you do it! The UTS LSS have teamed up with five other societies on campus to kick start your new active lifestyle with the inaugural UTS Inter-Faculty Sports Tournament!

 

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Shifting back into gear

It’s at this time of session when we start questioning, where did the holidays go? What did I even do? I just needed one more week and then I’d be ready for uni. It’s only the second day back and I already feel two weeks behind. Or (my personal favourite), I really need two six month holidays twice a year.

Understandably, the jitters are real and before the tension sets in, let’s pull the brakes and take a moment to consider the bigger picture. We have 12 weeks – including the much anticipated Stuvac – to fully apply ourselves and get involved in numerous valuable opportunities. The UTS LSS recognises and promotes the need to practice a healthy work/life balance. Please keep this in mind as we consider, Seven Start of Session Strategies to ease the transition back into uni life:

1. Timetabling – ensure you’ve enrolled in all your courses and have a good idea of class locations & times. Remember, you have the first few weeks to settle in and change your tutorial or seminar times to match your availability.

2. Organisation – take some time to read through your subject outlines and note down any compulsory textbooks you may need to purchase & the relevant dates of assessment tasks. Sometimes you may have multiple compulsory texts or different editions to choose from, lecturers often provide good recommendations in the first few classes so be sure to listen out. Remember to check out the UTS LSS Textbook Exchange page for great second-hand book offers from fellow students. Alternatively, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, there’s always StudentVIP Textbooks and Zookal.

Also, if you don’t keep a diary, there are plenty of great apps to help you stay organised which are compatible for both Apple and Android products including, Any.do, Google Now, 24me, Quip, Wunderlist and Speaktoit.

3. Time management – take some time this week to gage an understanding of your academic, professional and personal commitments. Be sure to allocate time to unwinding, spending time with family and friends, keeping active and participating in an enriching opportunity; read more on this below…

4. Extracurricular activities – there are a wide variety of activities, programs and competitions offered by the UTS LSS to enrich your university experience. From Junior Competitions for first and second year law students to the Interfaculty Sports Games to Peer Mentoring and the Start of Semester Party and many more activities. Check out our website and Facebook page to see the latest opportunities on offer.

5. Readings – it may seem like an arduous task but remember to keep up with your readings, a list of these are usually found in your Subject Outline or Subject Guides. This preparation can be helpful for providing you with additional guidance for lectures and tutorials.

6. Eat clean and exercise well – early starts and late finishes at uni can disrupt our food cycle, that being, how frequently we eat and what we choose to eat on a daily basis. Be sure to eat plenty of green vegetables for example, Spinach, Lettuce, Beans, Broccoli, Cucumber, Zucchini, Asparagus, Peas, Kale, Silver, Beat, Spring Onions. In the coming weeks we’ll be bringing you some fresh recipes with such ingredients. Try to exercise regularly, whether that may be walking around the block, exercising at the gym or doing a dance class with friends.

7. Sleep – as the academic workload and personal commitments arise and potentially increase over the first few weeks of uni, be sure to develop a healthy sleeping pattern of 8 hours per night. For further insight into the importance of sleep, check out our Sleep Issue.

Without further adeu, welcome back to uni friends! Hope you all have a wonderful start to the session. Let’s make it a good one🙂

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The Power of Kindness

Our Student Wellbeing Advisory Group (SWAG) subcommittee member and ongoing contributor for the UTS LSS Wellbeing Blog, Chanelle Nader writes…  

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo F. Buscaglia

Every day we go about our usual repetitive activities and routines. We interact with the same or different people and before we know it, the day has ended. But as humans we yearn for more. We thrive on connections, happiness, love and peace – just to name a few. So every day, we all have the power to go about our usual activities and leave our imprint of positivity and kindness.

Smile Week at UTS has recently concluded with the Random Act of Kindness Day, which encourages a person to do a selfless act towards another to spread the act kindness. Carrying out a selfless act of kindness is such a simple yet powerful idea that we are able to incorporate in our lives. Here are 10 simple ways you can show kindness:

  1. Compliment someone – a few simple words can go a long way.
  2. Offer up your seat on public transport to someone who needs it more.
  3. Create a ‘Things I Love about You’ jar for a family member or friend – write small messages on why you love the person and put it in a small jar (my sister gave this to me as a Christmas present and it is one of my most treasured gifts).
  4. Pack your flatmates lunch.
  5. Pay ahead for a stranger’s morning coffee.
  6. Call or message a friend or family member randomly in the day and ask let them know you’re thinking of them.
  7. Offer to take on extra chores around the house.
  8. Donate pre-loved clothes or books to a charity organisation.
  9. Spend time with a relative or friend who is going through a tough time.
  10. Simply smile!

Sources:

World Kindness Australia 2016, Acts of Kindness, viewed 25 May 2016, < http://www.worldkindnessaustralia.org/kindness-ideas/>

Positively Positive 2013, Spread the Love: Five Ways to Increase your positivity footprint, viewed 25 May 2016, < http://www.positivelypositive.com/2012/10/23/spread-the-love-5-ways-to-increase-your-positivity-footprint/>

Australian Kindness Movement 2011, What is an Act of Kindness?, viewed 25 May 2016, < http://www.kindness.com.au/what-is-an-act-of-kindness.html>

Mindfulness Post

The Art of Mindfulness

“When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

What is this thing called mindfulness?

There are numerous interpretations of this meaningful and enriching exercise. Put simply, mindfulness involves both internally and externally focusing your awareness on the present moment and the world around you, whilst calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts.

Why is mindfulness important?

By accepting the present moment, whether it be positive or negative, you’re able to identify, tolerate and reduce difficult, painful and even frightening thoughts, feelings and sensations. Mindfulness provides you with a sense of control over your state of mind and empowers you to master your emotions. Therefore, you have greater peace and are able to calmly prepare for the future while in the present moment.

How do I practice mindfulness?

Mindful eating

This involves sitting down at a table with a meal and not being distracted by any other activity e.g. no watching television, listening to music and/or using phone. Eat your meal with full focus as to each piece of food you’re eating, how it looks, smells, tastes and the texture as you chew. You may be amazed how different food tastes when eaten in this manner.

Mindful walking

Apply a similar principle, go for a walk without any distractions and concentrate on the feeling of the ground under your feet and your breathing pattern. Let your thoughts go and focus on the sound of the wind, observe other walkers, the colour of the sky and the shift in temperature against your skin.

De-stressing exercises

Hold a composed posture and centre your thoughts by questioning, “What is going on with me at this moment?” Process and accept your thoughts and feelings while maintaining a balanced breathing pattern. If you find yourself elaborating on any thoughts or emotions, re-focus on your breathing pattern. When disturbed by troublesome emotions or memories, label them as “that’s a happy/sad feeling.” With practice you can develop your ability to identify yourself as an objective observer.

Helpful articles by Andy Robert, Managing Director of Breathe Australia and Breathe London

How to  be in flow at work – http://www.breathe-magazine.com/being-flow-work

DOES TALKING REALLY MAKE YOU ‘BETTER’?

The UTS University Manager of Baytr and UTS LSS Wellbeing blog contributor, David Lt writes…

We’ve all heard that its important to drink eight glasses of water a day, stand up and walk around at least once an hour, breathe slower and deeper, eat more greens and fibre, exercise more often, sleep eight hours a night, etc etc. It can get a little overwhelming when we think about the amount of small change factors that we need to implement in order to be on-track for a ‘normal’ healthy life as a human. And so why not throw one more in the mix?

Thanks to the clever folk at the University of Cambridge, we now have some more changes to make. But perhaps these ones might not be so hard. In a research paper published recently, it seems that now the proof that our physical health is tied to our mental health is more tangible than ever. According to research findings it might actually subtract from your biological age if you spend more time… wait for it… talking to other people (cue light bulbs and sparkles in brain).

We’ve long know the positive effects of a smile, a laugh, and some good old fashioned ‘bromance’ / ‘womance’ in terms of making us ‘feel’ better. And now we also can know that it is doing our body a world of good. This might be second nature to ‘normal people’, however its best to assume that for some of us, particularly students living fuller lives than most, perhaps we need to remind ourselves that its important to eat, sleep, study, netflix, curate epic insta’s and also actually talk to each other. Working for an organisation like batyr, and working so closely with wellbeing groups and committees within UTS I often see a lot of planning that goes into creating opportunities for students to speak to each other, network, chill out and get relational. And so often, we see a stack of students who paid money or gave up time to be at an event, and everyone is on their phone watching everyone else’s lives outside the room. Its a little tragic to think about sometimes, but I know that things will get better if we just keep trying … right? At this point, I think its a good time to ask yourself whether this kind of change is something that you need. And if the answer is yes, that’s great! Lets have a look at what we can actually do…

Some things that perhaps might make this whole thing easier might be hidden in the choices that form our every day habits. If you are someone who likes to study and focus in a quiet place, away from distraction (and please don’t stop all together), what about trying it out in the library, a cafe or outside somewhere? With more chances to run into people you might find that your day gets a little quicker and more enjoyable.

Auto-correct is great for your phone, and not so great for conversations. Do you ever get the sense that you’re in a conversation where either yourself or the other person is rushing, and finishing your sentences for you? Not in a cute way, but in that ‘I have to go now’ kind of way? When you’re having a conversation perhaps a great idea to try is to slow down, and really listen to what the other person is saying. Sometimes, people just want to talk and not really hear about how you could instantly solve their issues. And sure enough, the time will come where that is what you need too. Slowing down is annoying sometimes, because we fail to stop and ‘be’. Yeah, there are deadlines. But they don’t need to be on our conversations. Right?

‘Weaker social relationships’ (as the article puts it) can lead to a propensity to draw back from seeking support and help when things aren’t going quite right. What are some things that you can do to make sure that relationships go from just ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ in the corridors to actual concrete connections? One thing that definitely works for me is a regular time and place. For some of the crew at UTS that I often hang out with, we have a Friday night standard plan to make sure we spend an hour or so with each other after work or study is done for the day. Same time, same place, every week. Kind of like a TV show. And sure, not every week works for everyone, but at least on any given Friday, some of us are there. Perhaps strengthening some weaker (or fading) connections could be as easy as that? And you don’t even need it to be at central perk… it could be anywhere.

All the answers are definitely not in this page, but it could be cool to start a conversation around the ways that people encourage their social relationships, and in so doing, we know that we can easily make improvements in the way we feel and in our physical health over time. What do you think?

 

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