A Way out of Binge Eating

Binge eating disorder is one of the recognised eating disorders, and commonly involves feelings of powerlessness and the inability to control one’s eating. Binge eating itself is behaviour that is a major symptom of the former.

Binge eating differs from a one off treat-yourself kind of meal. While it’s completely okay to treat yourself and overeat a little – perhaps for a special occasion, or once in a while after a long day, repeated, regular binge eating is a problem. Not everybody who falls into a pattern of binge eating might find themselves clinically diagnosed with binge eating disorder, but a lack of a diagnosis is certainly no good reason to put your efforts into curbing the habit.

  • Identify why you binge eat

When do you find yourself engaging in binge eating? Do you do so when you are at home, or away from home? Do emotions come into play? Are there any other factors that are common to your experiences binge eating? These are all questions that you need to ask yourself to determine the root cause of why you are struggling. While there are many strategies you can implement to curb your binge eating habits, you will ultimately make the most progress by addressing the factors that cause you to binge eat in the first place.

Treat the illness, not just the symptoms!

  • Identify food that you binge eat, and distance yourself

There are certain foods that you are likely more prone to binge eat. If it’s difficult to identify the same foods that you are constantly going back to, consider the food groups they belong to. Try and identify that you are eating the most of.

It may be helpful to remove those foods that you are prone to binge eating, or at least hide them. Thus, there is a possibility of reducing your binge eating due to an absence of the foods you are typically drawn to.

  • Don’t eat alone

While we aren’t so blessed to be surrounded by friends and family all the time, making the effort to make sure you aren’t alone during mealtimes or in other situations where food is available may help. Humans are social beings, and having friends and family around may boost your awareness of your actions. Eating meals with others are also helpful.

Engaging in conversation during meals may also help to slow your eating. Your body experiences a delay between ingesting food and feeling full. Slowing your eating will give your stomach the chance to tell you that you’ve eaten enough, and this awareness may help combat your eating habits.

  • Eat off a plate

The general idea is to prepare or plate your food before you begin eating. It is much easier to get lost in a packet of chocolate, chips, nuts, or crackers if you’re eating out of the bag. Placing food onto a plate or into a bowl before you begin forces you to visually identify what you are intending to consume.

Placing the rest of the food that you don’t plan to eat back where it belongs – the fridge, the pantry, helps too. By engaging in these behaviours, of portioning out and plating your food before eating, you acknowledge what food and how much food you are planning to eat.

  • Distract yourself; don’t rely on willpower

As much as we’d like to believe that we have control over our actions, habits are hard to break, sometimes, sheer willpower won’t cut it. And that’s completely okay! Not being able to will yourself to stop eating does not mean you are any weaker of a person. It’s just a lot of biological and psychological factors at play that are undercutting your intentions!

Distract yourself instead. Place your mental energy elsewhere when you are thinking about and resisting the urge to eat. Start a conversation with a friend, think about something that needs to be done – laundry, university assignments, working on job applications – whatever else there is to devote your mental energy to.

If the mental redirection isn’t enough, a physical distraction helps too. Leave the house; go for a walk, or a jog. If that’s too hard, do some star-jumps in your room, put on your favourite music and just dance. Engage your mind and body in some other way. Something that has helped me personally is to paint my nails. You can’t eat if your hands are otherwise preoccupied.

Ultimately, while these are all potentially useful strategies to combat binge eating habits, the most useful tip would be #1. Get to the root of why you have developed this habit. People binge eat for many different reasons, reacting either to physical or mental stimuli. Whatever the reasons are, identifying why you have fallen into this habit is the first step to conquering it. Once you know what is driving your behaviour, you can implement steps to change it for the long term.

Not succumbing to binge eating urges today, or this week is awesome, and definitely a milestone, but the real progress starts when you begin addressing what is causing it. Binge eating is a manifestation of some other kind of stress you are probably dealing with. It doesn’t mean that you’re any weaker or lesser of a person. It’s just another challenge to overcome, and something about yourself you can better.

Take the time to listen to your body and understand yourself. And if that’s really hard right now, try these strategies to curb your binge eating, and reach out if you need more help.

Michelle Xu

Easter Binge

DISCLAIMER – As the author of this article I, myself must begin with admitting that I am an addict of chocolate and cannot always practice self-control. However, this Easter, I will be trying my absolute best, so join me, together let’s fight the bludge, binge and overindulgence this Easter.

It is that time wonderful time of the year, where every were you go, you cannot escape the sight of chocolate bunnies or chocolate eggs. Easter is a great time to spend with your families, check up on uni work or just to continue to do more procrastinating. However, Easter is also one of the most common times where we binge eat, especially the chocolate goodie. There problem isn’t the hot-cross buns or the chocolates, it is rather those of us, who are guilty of consuming excessive colossal sized Easter eggs and bunnies.

Chocolate is one of the highest kilojoule or calorie foods, so that is the reason many of us experience the surprise weight gain. However, don’t fret, because this Easter, we have a plan to help prevent the weight gain and binge. So, you will still be able to keep the chocolates without the guilt.

STEP 1 – SLEEP

Getting enough sleep is crucial, as it helps our bodies recover and controls our hunger cravings. Not getting enough sleep or not getting good quality sleep, clouds out judgement and we aren’t able to make logical decisions, this makes us prone to making emotional decisions when it comes to food.
Get enough sleep during the Easter break and come Easter Sunday, your cravings will be at bay and you will hopefully be able to enjoy the day with your hunger under control.

 

STEP 2 – MOVEMENT

This doesn’t mean you wake up at the crack of dawn, to go on a marathon run so you can eat all the chocolates you like, rather it is ensuring you keep moving through out your day. Generally, what happens during Easter lunches and during the long weekend is that, we are sitting and sitting some more, so just try and get moving on the day. It could be as easy as hiding the eggs for hunt, volunteering to be the responsible one accompanying the kiddies on the hunt by walking around with them, of just moving around every hour. Another easy thing to do is just go on a walk, it isn’t too strenuous and achievable, just monitor your daily steps during the long weekend, try setting a goal of getting at least 10,000-12,000 steps, roughly equivalent to 45-60 minutes of walking.
To keep you motivate walking through the day can help you burn anywhere from 300-600 extra calories a day, so get off your posteriors and get moving.

STEP 3 – Protein
Easter is all about eggs, the Cadbury crème eggs kind, right…? WRONG.

It’s also about regular eggs, the hard-boiled ones as well. Try and consume, a healthy nutritious protein back breakfast. Protein packed breakfasts helps keep you feeling fuller for long and will make it less likely for you to binge eat. So, try and eat eggs for breakfast, or an avocado smash toast. Seafood contains protein as well, so eating seafood for lunch will also be beneficial for you.
I will personally be having a veggie omelette and some Greek yoghurt with berries and lunch with be I will be enjoying fish and prawns.

STEP 4 – Hydration

Drinking water helps our body curb cravings and it also helps flush out toxins. So, if you’re feeling bloated after your chocolate bunnies and eggs, drink water. Water will move all the fluid retention and waste out of your body.

STEP 5 – Less is more
Don’t not skip meals, in hope of saving those calories for the chocolate, as this will only make you hungrier and add to the cravings. Rather have smaller portioned meals, that are lighter. Your body will still be getting the adequate amount of fuel that is needs.

STEP 6 – Don’t Deny yourself.
Enjoy those chocolate goodies, but remember step 5, so have a controlled amount. Moderate it, share your chocolates with others (give them those calories), if still have heaps of chocolate left over, hide them for a rainy day.

Have a Happy and Safe Easter Break. Enjoy your chocolates and time off.

Jess Prakash

Make the most of your uni lunch break

For someone attempting to be a “thrifty uni student” I forget to pack lunch about every 3 in 4 days (judging from the lines at Mecca on Harris St. around midday I’m guessing most of you do too!). So this month I’ve taken on a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em (and eat their delicious food)” attitude, and prepared a quick guide on where to get the tastiest eats around UTS! Whether you’ve got a leisurely hour to spare, half an hour, or are literally sprinting to your next class and need to stuff something into your mouth along the way, there will be something for you!

 

I’ve got an hour…Mecca Café (646 Harris St. Ultimo)

 

FYI, in January Mecca changed its name to Soma, despite having all the same food, staff and vibe (why, you ask? I have literally no idea, but will continue to refer to it as Mecca for the rest of my uni degree). The great part about lunching at Mecca is you can get a table for a group of friends, but equally not feel like a loser dining there alone. With friendly staff, a relaxed industrial chic interior, and delicious healthy food it’s tough to beat!

 

Favorite orders: the (vegan) Kale Caesar salad or the Middle Eastern-style chicken pita. Although last time I was here the smell saffron-spiced shakshuka served with warm pita bread was giving me serious food envy.

 

I’ve got half an hour…Bo 7 Mon Thanh Tam (Level 3, Market City, 9-13 Hay Street)

 

In the time it takes to figure out how to pronounce the name of this small Vietnamese restaurant in Market City, they will have served you up some of the best pho you’ve ever had! The actual place is rather devoid of atmosphere but who cares when it’s boasting (probably) one of Sydney’s only MSG-free phos?! With winter coming it is the perfect way to warm up between classes…and the fab price of $9 doesn’t hurt either.

 

Favorite order: Pho! This one is an 8-hour medium strength broth, native to Vietnam’s south. Healthy and surprisingly filling!

 

I’ve got ten minutes…Sushi Hub (2/815-825 George St. Haymarket)

 

You’ve got limited time…you’re about to die of starvation…don’t panic! Just power walk your way up to Sushi Hub on George St. With an abundance of hand-held rolls available, all for around the $3 mark, you’re sure to get a satisfying lunch in on the go! Bonus points if you try one of their brown rice rolls for extra #health purposes.

 

Favorite order: I’m a sucker for the spicy salmon and avocado roll or the tempura prawn roll. They’ve got a great range of mixed sushi boxes you can grab on the go as well (just hope your tutor is okay with you eating in class!)

 

Lily O’Keefe

The Importance of Having Things to Look Forward to Throughout the Week, and Our Minds, and Breaking Things Down

There was a time, quite possibly not too long ago, a time where most of our weeks were routine. We almost knew it off by heart, could perform it instinctively and with our eyes shut and or second thoughts.

Routine. Our days were well planned: morning breakfast, school, homework centers (if you went to those) followed by home, and by what we were never fully sure of; was it a belated lunch or an early dinner? I suppose that depended on how hungry one was.

The monotony of our lives at that point in time was quite clear. However, as we progressed into adulthood, one of the most common factors that created the divide between our daily routines and what we would actually prefer to be doing was the succumbing to our responsibilities.

What in retrospect seemed easy, routine, and something we had come to expect from for nearly 13 years (that is from primary to high school) seems to have unequally proportioned our responsibilities, as though we were thrown away from our own planet, onto the planet of everyone else’s.

From this, the most certain result is that we lost the time to do what we would usually do if we needed not to do anything else. That is, a time when our responsibilities did not control our daily lives, to the extent where all we do is fulfil one thing whilst thinking of another, losing the power to break things and compartmentalize accordingly…

Things to Look Forward to

Whilst it is really easy to think about the next assignment, chore, class, work, study, reading, exercise, sleep (the list goes on) and stress over them, it is arguably more difficult to think and plan forward to having a thing which provides that jump in your step.

The trick to this is that we must create and make that thing which allows us to have something to look forward to. It is much easier to dwell on our responsibilities than to make good of them. It is because of this that having this thing is so crucial to general health and wellbeing.

What is this ‘Thing’?

The little trick that the world never told you is that this thing is whatever you create or want it to be. Whatever you make it to be is what it should be – no need for unnecessary complications. A question you may ask to yourself now is “how easy would everything be if that were the case?” and that’s a question that holds significant merit.

Our Mind…

When we think about our schedule for the upcoming week, it is all happening in our minds. Whilst our minds are a great tool, they often are our greatest enemies when it comes to health and wellbeing. Our minds controls us, but we control it. So, when thinking about the next assignment and as you begin to panic for whatever reason, the chances of you exaggerating the possible chain of events which could occur is extremely high, and the importance of being able to break things down like we did in our younger years seems to be all the more important.

Power of Breaking Things Down

When we break things down, we gain a clearer vision of what needs to be done. When we know what needs to be done, stress is minimized, anxiety is more-or-less a forgotten entity, and our days seem a whole lot brighter, and simpler.

Summary

As we have progressed with our lives, we all seem to have forgotten things that made our lives the way they were when we were in our younger years: simple. Our days were well planned, and we knew how to do and achieve everything we needed to. However, this is one trait I’d argue most of us have sadly lost. If you are to take one thing away from this blabbering of mine is that the power of being able to break things down and having one thing to look forward to throughout your week will almost certainly make a world of difference.

Leigh

Thank Your Support Network

I don’t know about you, but I am by nature and experience a very negative person. I am upset by small things, like being late, or missing a train. I worry all the time, and feel an impending sense of doom when I look at my iCalendar, brimming with classes, and work, and other engagements. I feel inadequate when I get rejection emails, and I feel like I am not in control when I look at assignment due dates and the space where the loaf of bread I just binge-ate used to be.

This is a list of negative things that burden my day from the moment I wake. And mostly, I am ashamed to say that I feel this way.

But that’s okay too. We all go through moments like these – we’ve all said or done things or thought things that we aren’t proud of, and we all go through moments of self-doubt, or lose motivation. These are normal things that we have learned to be embarrassed or ashamed about, and that we frankly don’t talk more about.

 And we need to talk more about these things. We need to be able to have a dialogue about what is burdening us.

In my lowest moments, I have a small but close support network of people that I can complain to, or confide in. But coming to that moment of feeling that it’s okay to talk to someone about what you’re going through is difficult.

 At least personally, I have always felt a pressure to achieve, to be ambitious, to do a million things with the same twenty-four hours everybody else has, and come out on top. I attribute this to multiple factors, including my upbringing, and my personal struggles with self-love and self worth.

 My experience isn’t universal to everybody, but it is quite normal to feel for whatever reason, you aren’t ready to confide in someone. It’s also true that not anybody will do. Don’t pick friends that you struggle to communicate with – people that you can’t see eye to eye to, or haven’t been empathetic or good listeners in the past. Pick friends that you trust, that will understand, that will give you the time of day.

 The right friends and family will be ready and willing to support you with whatever problem you come to them with. And no matter how overwhelming and frightening the notion of confiding in somebody about your daily challenges and stress, try to take that leap of faith. More likely than not, that conversation you’re about to have is about to do you a world of good.

There’s also a way to go about finishing those conversations.

 Whenever I reach a point where I accept my need for support from my nearest and dearest, I also feel ashamed and guilty. Once again, this experience isn’t universal to everybody, but it’s not uncommon.

If not during, immediately after a moment where I confide in somebody, I feel that I have burdened them, and that I was somehow unworthy of their patience and kindness – this is especially so for those closest to me that I lean on more than once. Often, it’s the people you love most that you want to burden the least – but these ideas just can’t coexist in reality.

At some point, I realised that this was not a healthy way of dealing with my stress. While I was partially doing the right thing – voicing the thoughts that plagued me in order to stop demonising them and bring myself back to earth – I was also stacking on additional guilt and shame for supposedly burdening my dearest friends with my own negativity.

 The point of opening up to people in your support network is to ground your thoughts and worries. After confiding, you want to feel somewhat relieved, a little less burdened, or just more able to see things with a clearer perspective. To feel the additional shame and guilt of supposedly being a burden or wasting someone’s time does nothing for these outcomes. To end these kinds of conversations with your friends and family with “I’m sorry, I’m such a burden,” or “I’m sorry you have to listen to this,” actually counteracts the benefits you were trying to get out of talking to somebody about your problems. It also reinforces the habit of negative thinking in your mind.

So I changed how I did things a little.

Instead of saying these negative things that reinforced my feelings of shame, of weakness, of being a burden and an annoyance to the people who loved me – I started saying “thank you”.

“Thank you for listening to me.”

“Thank you for giving me this advice.”

“Thank you for being here for me.”

“Thank you for taking the time to listen, it really means a lot to me.”

Thanking somebody is inherently positive – it communicates gratitude – that you acknowledge the difficulty or burdensome nature of something, but instead of dwelling on that negative, you praise and thank someone for their kindness and persistence in what they have done for you.  

This is not a foolproof guide to finding your way out of your daily pressures, worries, sadness, or anxiety. Honestly, this is not a solution to any of your problems at all. I’m a flawed person. I still haven’t got my shit sorted, but this is something small that I do, that might make a difference to you too.

This is just a way to possibly help guide yourself out of a habit of negativity, and also give your support network the appreciation and respect they deserve.

So next time, instead of apologising for your supposedly being a liability or burden, thank that person who held you while you cried, cursed with you as you let out your anger and frustration, or talked you back to earth in a 2AM phone call.

Michelle Xu

The Importance Of Hydration

Water, H2O or aqua whatever you want to call it. It makes up 70% of our being and it’s really vital for us humans. Winter is coming, so to keep our body and mind working well, hydration is an important factor. After all, no one wants dry skin or even worse dry and cracked lips. All we are ever told to is to consume copious amounts of water so this post will tackle some myths, some facts and some tips and tricks to increase your fluid in take.

Why Staying Hydrated is Important ?

Staying hydrated is important –

  • Fluids help carry blood to your organs
  • Helps our hearts function better
  • Water helps keeps our skins looking good
  • Helps with muscle recovery
  • Helps maintain normal bowel function
  • Helps prevent swelling
  • Helps alleviate head aches
  • Helps regulate our body temperature to prevent heat stroke.

First Fact or Myth – drinking 7 to 8 glass of water a day.

Myth

Why? Well there is no source for this amount and secondly because some people need more water and some less and if we were to get technically how does one measure of a glass. So, try a just keep your fluids up, it doesn’t have to be water all the time, as juices and fruits/vegetables can count. Coffees, teas and carbonated drinks count as well, but its best to keep those to a minimum.

Please note that if it’s a hot day or you’re feeling hot it is best to increase your fluid intake.

Part-taking in strenuous exercise, also requires increased intake of water and other fluid (preferably electrolytes) as water is lost through sweating.

As winter is approaching so too is the cold and flu season, so it is also best to increase fluid intake to help your body recover.

Can you drink too much water?

FACT

It is quite dangerous to drink too much water, as it can cause a reduction and dilatation of sodium (salt) in one’s body, a condition known as hyponatremia. This leads to an imbalance in the body’s essential minerals, as fluids move from the blood to inside cells causing swelling, which can then lead to the dazed or confused feeling, seizures or even a coma. However, consuming too much water over short period of time is a rare instance.

Drinking water helps with weight loss?

FACT

The key word here being help or assist, as water is great for your metabolism as it helps to accelerator one’s metabolism, which is key component for the formula of weight-loss.

Furthermore, substituting high calorie, sugary carbonated drinks to water is a great way of keeping one’s daily calorie intake low. It also helps to eat foods with higher water content, as these foods require more chewing, and it takes our bodies longer to absorb those food, hence our appetites are satisfied. High water-content foods include- soups, broths, fruits, vegetables, legumes/beans and oatmeal.

Tips and tricks to increase your daily intake –

  • Start your morning with a glass of water before you get your caffeine hit.
  • Always carry a bottle of water with yourself, especially to uni or work.
  • Try and take a couple sips every hour
  • Try infusing your water, with seasonal fruits or citrus for a hint of flavor.
  • Try substitute other fluids for water
  • Try eating high water content foods.

References –

(http://www.safecare.com/news/staying-hydrated-this-summer/_)

http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2012/12/13/3653639.htm

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-staying-hydrated

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/water-intoxication#1

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/tc/drinking-enough-water-topic-overview

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water#3

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-ways-to-increase-your-daily-water-intake.html

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Staying-Hydrated—Staying-Healthy_UCM_441180_Article.jsp#.WOMeqRhh2fU

Jess Prakash

Dance like no one’s watching (for real): A review of “No Lights, No Lycra”

“It’s basically an hour long completely sober dance party, in a pitch black room,” my friend said enthusiastically as we waited in line outside the St. Stephens church hall in Newtown one rainy Thursday evening a few weeks ago. I’ll admit, I was skeptical. As someone whose self-consciousness usually only allows them to bust a move in public after a couple of drinks, I didn’t know if the free-spirited free-dancing vibe that was emanating from the crowd of enthusiastic looking (mostly) women was going to work for me. Nonetheless, I handed my $7 at the door and headed into darkness.

 

No Lights, No Lycra is a casual free-form dance class that was the brainchild of two dancers, Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett, that began in Melbourne in 2009. What started as a small get-together of friends to boogie to their favorite tunes has now evolved into a global dance community, with weekly dance parties happening in cities from Byron Bay to Berlin. No Lights No Lycra aims to be “a daggy, non-pretentious place to completely be yourself,” and with four locations in Sydney alone its unique offering is clearly appealing to a wide audience.

 

I tentatively placed my bag in a dark corner of the hall, praying I’d see it again at the end of the hour, and my friends and I (holding hands to form a chain so as not to lose each other) made our way to the center of the dance floor. Something that struck me straight away was the good energy in the room, the music hadn’t even come on yet and I already heard laughing, high-fiving and whooping amongst the crowd. The first song came on, and I found myself awkwardly bopping from side to side trying my hardest to remember how I usually dance… This hesitation didn’t last long, and by the second song (Beyonce’s ‘Déjà vu,’ an absolute classic) I was jumping around with my hands in the air, fully aware of the fact the complete darkness was masking my terrible dance moves. I was dancing exactly how I would love to dance at a club when my favorite song came on, but never EVER usually would. The next hour flew by in a very sweaty blur of high-energy 80s disco, 90s R’n’B and current Top 40 tunes that everyone seemed to know every word too. While flailing limbs and enthusiastic fist-pumping proved to be a bit of a safety hazard in the pitch black room, it was nothing that couldn’t be excused as collateral damage to getting your groove on.

 

We emerged from the hall at the end laughing, sweating profusely, and exclaiming “thank GOD I didn’t go to the gym today!” One of the testimonials on the No Lights No Lycra website says “I adore every NLNL session! It is an escape from thought or reason, it’s just a place to do exactly what you feel and let loose!”- and I would say this sums up my experience there perfectly. You know it’s kind of ridiculous to be dancing, in the pitch black, completely sober in a room full of people you don’t know…but it just feels so good! The non-judgmental attitude of your fellow dancers paired with the rush of dance-induced endorphins mean you leave No Lights No Lycra vowing to come back the next week for more. It is truly the best hour a busy university student can take in their day to relax their mind and be silly, so go check out a No Lights No Lycra near you!

 

Info

 

You’ll need: Water, $7, a few friends (optional), and an open mind

 

You don’t need: talent, trendy outfits, makeup

 

Where to get your NLNL fix:

 

NEWTOWN

Main Hall Newtown

189 Church St, Newtown

When: Thursdays 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Cost: $7 at the door

 

BONDI

Bondi Pavilion (Seagull Room)

Queen Elizabeth Dr, Bondi Beach

When: Mondays 7:30-8:30pm

Cost: $7 at the door

Please visit the Facebook Page for more information

NLNL Ambassadors: Ash and Jodie

Contact: nolightsnolycrasydney@gmail.com

 

PARRAMATTA

Studio 404, 404 Church Street Parramatta, 2150

Thursdays 7pm – 8pm

NLNL Ambassador: Katrina

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nlnlparra/

Email: nlnl@thewesties.com.au

Social tags: @nolightsnolycraparra

 

MANLY

Manly Community Centre

12 Wentworth Street Manly

Tuesdays 7:30 – 8:30pm

NLNL Ambassador: Kat

Email: nlnlmanly@gmail.com

Social tags: @nolightsnolycramanly

 

Lily O’Keefe

Mental Benefits of Exercise

 

emma-simpson-153970.jpgEveryone knows that exercise is good for you. For most of us, we know that we should be doing more but are armed with plenty of excuses ready to explain why we don’t get the recommended dose of exercise (thirty minutes each day). Time, stress, lack of enjoyment all spring to mind instantly. During busy periods, exercise will always fall to the bottom of the list of priorities. As law students, we tend to focus on our mental, not physical strength. What is then failed to take into account is how important physical exercise will improve your mental health.

Most students associate the mental benefits of exercise with improving your mood, however, it’s important to acknowledge the other mental benefits of exercise. By pumping blood into the brain, it allows you to think more clearly. This in combination with the release of endorphins helps to relieve stress. Exercise is proven to improve memory as well as prevent brain injuries later on. Although you may consider those improvements in mood only help those who suffer from mental illness, it also works as a preventative measure. Everyone experiences low points and exercise will help to mitigate how bad it could be. Sure, going for a run isn’t necessarily going to immediately improve your mood, but consistent exercise will act as a defense to help your mental health in times of need.

Exercise also has mental benefits that aren’t necessarily directly caused by exercise but come with doing exercise. Doing exercise regularly boosts your confidence; this doesn’t have to come in the form of physical appearance but rather achieving small fitness goals and acknowledging that through application, your body will get stronger, faster and last longer. Doing one sit up won’t give you washboard abs but there is great satisfaction in seeing very real improvements in your strength. When you exercise in a group, you start to widen your social circle, which has benefits of feeling happier and included.

 

 

So maybe you’ve decided that you should make your move and commit to regular exercise, but have no idea where to start. Maybe you feel as though it’s too expensive or simply not a goal you can do on your own. It is important to remember that exercise has come a long way from either going for a run or lifting weights; there’s much more variety to ensure exercises suit your body type and don’t bore you. Gym classes are an excellent place to start. There are classes to suit every level of fitness as well as preferred exercise type. The group camaraderie created by simply trying to do exercise together lifts your spirits and makes you try harder. Similarly, having supervision means that you’re less likely to do exercises wrong and hurt yourself. If you’re nervous about investing money into your exercise, the internet offers a plethora of free exercise tips and tricks. Although there’s a chance you could stumble across something incorrect, it’s the exact same rule for using sources for your work, they have to be reliable. An achievable program to look at is couch to 5km or simple ten minute workouts.

 

At the end of the day, the scientific evidence is there: exercise is beneficial. Only you can calm your doubts and take a leap of faith into truly committing to making a positive difference in your life. In spite of whatever excuses you may have, at the end of the day you have to believe in yourself that you will improve. Don’t be afraid of trying something new.

 

Health Direct 2016, Exercise and Mental Health, viewed 24th March 2016, Canberra < https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/exercise-and-mental-health&gt;

 

Cathy Johnson, Exercise for Mental Health: A No Brainer?, , viewed 24th March 2016, Sydney, http://www.abc.net.au/health/features/stories/2014/08/26/4074904.htm

 

 

Welcome Back!

As lectures and classes have started up again for 2017, I want to welcome everyone back not just to university but also to the Wellbeing Blog! This year we’ll have articles regularly uploaded on Tuesdays, written by myself, the members of the student wellbeing advisory group (whom you will meet soon!), faculty and a whole range of guest contributors (maybe including yourself). Over the year, the blog will cover a range of topics that’ll be both informative and helpful across the broad range of wellbeing.

This year for wellbeing, we’ll be focusing on the integration of good mental and physical health to achieve a state of wellness. The resources from the blog, wellbeing events and access to other information will provide the building blocks to working out how best improve your wellbeing.

My name is Annabelle Parmegiani and I’m a second year Media Communication and Law student, and this year’s Student Wellbeing Director. Outside of uni I compete in triple jump and have found athletics to be a great passion. Over the years I have come to appreciate the importance and significance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle and putting the time and effort into maintaining your own wellbeing.

Although it can be clichéd to the point of cringe, the slogan of ‘new year new you’ has its merits. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the abrupt end to holidays, with schedules inevitably becoming busier and simply slipping into the same learning patterns formed in previous years. A lot can be said, however, to take a moment to assess your first week back at classes. Questioning your attitudes, emotions and responses to the week can be a catalyst for a shift into more positive behaviors. Have you become too involved and obsessed with completing uni work/notes? Have you found yourself already cursing out subjects and ‘the system’? Have you already got 7 different social plans for this week? Taking the time to honestly face up to your own faults will only serve to benefit you.

It’s important to begin with your attitude towards uni. Are you excited? Nervous? Bored? Frustrated? Within the first week, not much has truly happened and having a set mindset towards the semester is more likely a result of preconceived ideas and worries.

Often overwhelming excitement is born from unrealistic nostalgia and can be met with the overwhelmingly harsh reality of having to do the not-so-fun parts of uni, crushing what was a determined spirit. Nervousness can come from a place of insecurity, whereby you may feel inadequate and unprepared for the challenges ahead be it socially or academically. Boredom can come from a lack of involvement with all aspects of university, not just academics. Part of the reason that study is interesting is because it makes up simply one different facet of one’s life. Frustration, like nervousness can come from a place of insecurity, asking oneself why isn’t my experience better than before?

The point of identifying these attitudes is to help you to begin to shift them into a more productive and positive space. Recognizing that those attitudes are a product of your bias means that you have the power to change them! Mindfulness is a powerful tool and in combination with a couple small shifts in habits can make the biggest difference.

The next step to ensuring that this year runs smoothly is to get yourself a diary. If you have a diary, use it. Whether it be online or physical, an understanding of scheduling is key in preventing as much mayhem as you can. Taking the time each night to write in what’s happening in the future, from assignments to social events is simply a habit that needs to be formed. Similarly, a clear visualization of your schedule enables you face the facts of when there is a lack of balance. It can be shocking to acknowledge how long its been since you’ve last caught up with friends or how many hours you’ve spent studying. Of course life can’t be written down in half an hour slots but regular planning is key to keeping yourself in check and ensuring you don’t get caught drowning in work.

Another essential tool in creating a positive and productive year is to do regular exercise. The benefits of taking some time to do an activity that is enjoyable and gets you sweating is enormous. I don’t want to preach the physical and mental benefits of exercise but rather engrain in the idea of something that you find fun, be it a social sport, beginners gym class, yoga or a run around the block, can only stand to be a benefit in your life.

When looking forwards to actively taking charge of your year, it’s important to remember that it is not the new action itself that is creating difficulty, rather it is the difficulty of changing.

Interview with Pip Ryan Part 2: Work-life balance

Our UTS LSS Student Wellbeing Advisory Group Member and UTS LSS Wellbeing Blog ongoing contributor, Karla Hart  writes…

Is work-life balance something we should aspire for or an unrealistic ideal which constantly makes us feel like our lives are incomplete? Dr Pip Ryan, barrister and UTS law academic, shares her views on work-life balance.

“Sometimes I get a little bit nervous about this work-life balance thing. Sometimes I think the desire for it works against you. How you approach balance in life really depends on what you want and your expectations. Work does not have to dominate, but getting started, meeting deadlines, meeting your budget and getting promotions will require that sometimes you put work first. It can be counterproductive and very stressful to fight these pressures. Indeed, it can be very rewarding and enjoyable to throw yourself into your work.

If you want to take it easy or leave things to the last minute and you are happy with just getting passes, go for it. But don’t complain if you don’t apply yourself and then are unhappy with your marks. If you want to achieve your goals, you have to ask yourself what that takes. If you’re naturally brilliant and you can achieve without doing much work, bravo! I can’t. I’ve never been able to do that. For me, it’s always been about hard work, focus and meeting deadlines. In my 20s, I worked for a judge full-time while studying law. In those years, not once did I feel anything but unbelievably privileged, grateful and happy. I would sometimes burst into tears from sheer exhaustion, but I was also completely content.

I am a big believer in action before motivation. Keep a “must do” list so that you do not turn things over in your mind all the time. If you’re lying in bed worrying about something that needs to be done, get up and do it.

Keep a “must do” list so that you do not turn things over in your mind all the time

For example, I took an article with me to finish when I went camping with my little grand-daughters last year. My husband and I had an amazingly perfect day with these gorgeous little girls. Once the girls went off to sleep, I sat by a lake with a laptop, tea, chocolate, head phones, a little camping lamp, and I finished an article, thinking “I am the luckiest person in the whole world!” Had I been one of those people who won’t work on the weekend, we wouldn’t have gone camping. Had I gone away that weekend with the article unfinished, I would not have enjoyed myself at all. That is how I manage my work-life balance.

Enjoyed reading Karla’s interview with Dr Pip Ryan about work-life balance? Have a read of what Dr Ryan has to say about failure here