Staying Hydrated

This week is Nutrition and Hydration Week 2017 (13th -17th March ) so Fight The Fads have put together their top tips on how to stay hydrated!

sporty woman drinking water

How much water do we need?

It is recommended that men consume 2L or 10 glasses/day and women 1.6 L or 8 glasses/day.

However, water requirements depend on your activity levels and the surrounding temperature, so only view the above recommendations as a minimum!

 

The easiest way to identify if you are consuming enough water is checking the colour of your urine:

clear or light yellow = well hydrated
darker = dehydrated (the darker, the more dehydrated) DRINK WATER!

FTF tips on building your water consumption:

  1. Carry a bottle with you and fill it up periodically.
  2. Keep a glass of water on your desk at work.
  3. Keep a glass next to your bed. Many of us wake up dehydrated first thing in the morning.
  4. Switch one glass of soda or cup of coffee for a glass of water.
  5. Drink small amounts of water throughout the day to ensure you get enough.

NOTE: We often forget that we get hydrated from foods we consume, such as fruits, soups and stews. This accounts for 20-30%, the remaining 70-80% of our water needs comes from drinks, so choose wisely!

 

University Mental Health Day 2017 – Why I Run

We hope you are looking forward to University Mental Health Day tomorrow as much as we are! This year, the theme is ‘active mental health’ and our Wellbeing Coach Wilna Gracias ,who is organising this year’s event, was keen to reflect on the benefits that her passion for running has brought to her own physical and mental health.  To take part in UMHD 2017 and #moveit4mentalhealth, check out the timetable of events here.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Wilna running Why I Run – Wilna Gracias (Wellbeing Coach)

If you would have told the 15 year old me that the older me would be a marathoner, I would have laughed in your face.

Back then I was your average overweight teen that spent most of her time in front of a TV and/or on the couch doing homework.   In an effort to feel good about myself, I tried all the fad diets and extreme weight loss techniques out there (remember Taebo and sweat suits).  However, I failed after each attempt and each time was left feeling powerless.  I turned to food to soothe these feelings and hence added to the stress.

Fast forward to 2010. I’m living in New York City working as a social worker, and overall, feeling pretty accomplished.  They say if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere and to the outside world, I had made it. With two degrees under my belt and a growing career, I had it all.  Except for that feeling of failure and powerlessness that was associated with being overweight.  It crept up when I looked in the mirror, when I went shopping for clothes, and even when I made choices about what to eat.  I could no longer deny it or cover it up-I was unhappy and uncomfortable in my own skin.  It was time to do something.  I chose to RUN.

UMHD

 

I ran my first half-marathon in April of 2010 and haven’t stopped running since.  I’ve run over 9 half-marathons in 2 different countries (US and UK). I have also run 4 marathons with Team for Kids, including this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon just last week.  Team for Kids is a group of adult runners from around the world who add meaning to their miles by raising funds for New York Road Runner’s Youth and Community Services programmes. The funds raise provide low cost-health and fitness programs to kids who would otherwise have little or no access to regular physical activity.  These programmes serve over 200,000 children in more 1,000 schools each year.

Not only have I shed the unwanted pounds and poor body image, I have re-gained control of my body, health, and life.  So when I’m asked why I run, the truth is that it reminds me that I’m EMPOWERED.  Running reminds me that I have the power to change my life.  Running reminds me that power is believing in yourself and working towards your goals.  Most importantly, running reminds me that power is not something you keep to yourself, but share with others.  Thus far, I have raised over $6,000 for Team for Kids and hope to continue to do so in the years to come.  I want to share to the gift of running with as many people as possible.  It has changed my life and I know it can change others’ lives as well.

 

Sustainability Week – saving the pennies and the planet

This week is Sustainability Week at KCL and there are a whole host of activities designed to help us embed sustainability into our everyday lives; good for our financial well-being and helps to feel that we are giving something back, which in turn boosts our mood.  With that in mind, Student Money Mentor Claire is back again with some tips for saving the pennies whilst saving the planet! 

Sustainability

It’s not that easy being green, living every day the colour of the trees…. And the colour of a £5 note.

Sustainability and saving money go hand in hand, so in partnership with King’s Sustainability, here are some tips to help you and the environment.

 1Food

We all love it, but in the UK we throw away around 10 million tonnes of food every year. More than 50% of this comes from our homes but the solution to this problem is literally at our fingertips. Firstly, we can do simple things like not cooking excessive amounts of food in one go so we don’t have to throw it away in the evening. Or keeping those leftovers in a Tupperware box and bringing it into uni the next day – not only reducing waste, but also saving you from spending a fiver on your meal at lunchtime.  The SU spaces on campus have microwaves to heat your food up.

Website like https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/ are filled with ideas of what to do with left over bits and bobs in your fridge. Sometimes, though, freezing fresh veg or bread and saving it for a rainy day is the quickest and simplest option. Although don’t freeze and then defrost carrots – been there, done that…. It doesn’t end well…

2. Olio

olio

This is an app I have recently discovered and have fallen in love with. It also revolves around reducing waste and connect people in the local community. You set your location and it scans the nearby area for other Olio users. Users can post food and non-food items they want to get rid off, and if it tickles your fancy, you can arrange to pick it up. Similarly, if you have any unwanted goods, you can give them to someone who needs it rather than throwing it away – one man’s junk is another man’s gold.

 

Environmental awareness green stickers

 3. Upcycling

This is a nifty way to cut down on how much you throw away and save some money. If you are creative too and want to so some DIY, then this ticks all the boxes as you basically take something you are about to throw away and turn it into something else. There are useful websites online like http://www.upcyclethat.com/ or https://uk.pinterest.com/explore/upcycling/ to inspire you.

 If you want some more information about sustainable living and saving money, check out King’s sustainability week- you’ve still got a day and half before it ends tomorrow. There are lots of activities and talks, and even a Swap Shop where you can donate your unloved good and pick up something else in exchange. I hope to see you there!

Stomping the stigma and taking positive steps

What a great time we had interacting with students today for Time to Talk 2017!  Across the University, students and staff came together to ‘stomp the stigma’ by placing a footprint in paint over negative, damaging or thoughtless words around mental health problems and replacing them with words of compassion, understanding and empowerment in our shoe collage.  Throughout the day, we had open, honest and frank discussions about the impact of these words, how to support ourselves and each other in times of mental ill health and how to practise self-care to safeguard our physical and mental well-being.

We’ve collected some of our favourite photos from the day below, with even more photos and videos on our @kingswellbeing twitter feed and our King’s Wellbeing Facebook page.

WP_20170202_12_34_13_Pro      Stomping that stigma!stamping right waysad  stomp filtercrafts right way    WP_20170202_13_04_12_Pro

Replacing stigmatising language with messages of support and empathy

 

green shoe

WP_20170202_13_03_56_Pro  displayThe finished product!

Time to Talk Day 2017 – Stomp The Stigma!

Tomorrow Thursday the 2nd of February is national Time to Talk Day and we’re inviting you to get involved!

tttd17-logo

Even though one in four of us will experience a mental health problem every year, so many will experience feelings of isolation, misunderstanding and stigma.  Sometimes, it can be difficult to talk about mental health, especially our own, or to know how to reach out to a friend in need.  That’s why mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness have come together to run the Time To Change campaign, a movement of ordinary people from all walks of life committed to opening up about mental health; talking, listening and changing attitudes.

At times, the language we hear around mental health in society is negative, judgemental and inconsiderate, when we should be cultivating an atmosphere of respect, support and empathy. King’s formally committed to supporting open discussion and awareness on campus around mental health in 2014 by signing the Time to Change pledge and what better opportunity to do this than Time to Talk 2017!WP_20160204_12_09_16_Pro

Time To Talk 2016: King’s Wellbeing was joined by the KCL peer supporters and Shannon, University Coordinator for Samaritans

You may remember us popping up in your canteens at Time to Talk last year to host a tea and chat session complete with free hot drinks and biscuits.

Time to Talk social media white

This year, we won’t spoil the surprise, but the Wellbeing Team has some fun and creative activities planned to help us to ‘stomp the stigma’! Our absolute favourite thing at King’s Wellbeing is interacting with KCL students, who are insightful, passionate and drivers of positive change.  So come and join us to stomp on that stigma and help replace negativity and intolerance around mental health problems with support and empathy.

 

You’ll find us stomping the stigma at:

Macadam Lobby, KCLSU, Strand campus 11-2

Revelstoke Room, Henriette Raphael, Guy’s 11-2

1st floor reception area, Waterloo 11-2

 If you would like to talk about something that’s on your mind, or are looking for support with your mental health, don’t forget the following services on campus and off:

Counselling Service

Mental Health Advisors

Peer Supporters

Chaplaincy

Nightline

Samaritans helpline is also open 24 hours a day for emotional support and you can visit their building in Marshall Street every day between 9.00am and 9.00pm, no appointment necessary

New Year New Start with King’s Wellbeing

New Year New Start: Build your vision for 2017

 Welcome back to King’s and Happy New Year!  As we step into 2017, our thoughts might be turning to academic and personal goals for the coming months.  Sometimes, we can be tempted to set ourselves lofty targets that leave us more stressed than motivated and feeling disappointed when we don’t meet our own expectations.  How many of us have banished all treats, signed up to the gym and pledged to spend an inordinate number of hours in the library, only to find ourselves binge-watching our favourite Netflix series, unhealthy snacks in hand a couple of weeks later?  We’ve all been there! And that’s OK.

NYNS email signature (002)

King’s Wellbeing takes a different approach.  Firstly, we want you to celebrate your achievements in 2016.  What went well? What are you proud of? Take a moment to reflect.  And what did you learn?  Even if everything didn’t go quite to plan, there is always something that we can take forward into the future to help us grow and we can feel proud of ourselves for making it through a difficult period.

Next week marks the start of our New Year New Start campaign and there’s a reason why we don’t subscribe to the ‘New Year New You’ motto that emerges every January.  We don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with the old you! We believe in the resourcefulness of all our students to build on the foundation that is already there and become the best version of themselves.

So, let’s not focus exclusively on what we want to change and dwell too much on the negatives.  Let’s look at where we want to be, what we want to achieve, and see 2017 as a year of new possibilities.  Try and focus on manageable and tangible goals as part of an incremental process of positive growth.  Don’t forget to recognise your successes along the way, however small, and remember to take care of your wellbeing!  If you’re struggling to identify your goals and how to get there and would benefit from some support, why not make an appointment for some wellbeing coaching?

 Don’t forget also that in addition to King’s Wellbeing, there are a multitude of services on campus to help you attain your academic, personal and health and fitness goals. Check out Study Skills, English Language Centre, King’s Sport and Be Active as a starting point.  If you’re trying to connect more with the KCL community, have a look at the KCLSU societies – from film and literature, to hot chocolate, to circus skills, there’s truly something for everyone! Looking for a friendly face and a listening ear to talk things over in confidence?  You can always get in touch with the KCL peer supporters or the Chaplaincy.  

For New Year New Start, King’s Wellbeing will also be around on every campus over the next two weeks to help you to get off on the right foot and provide a space to reflect on how to boost your wellbeing.  Join us for interactive stalls, relaxation workshops, yoga and more! New Year New Start needn’t be daunting and can even be fun!

 

Fight the Fads – Happy Healthy New Year!

Happy New Year and welcome back to the new term at King’s!  King’s Wellbeing hopes that 2017 will be a happy and fulfilling year for you and is here, as always, to help you reach your academic and personal goals. With the beginning of a new year often bringing resolutions for positive change, Fight the Fads reflect on how to aim for a healthy approach to food without resorting to fad diets.

With 2017 now upon us, it’s hard to not be sucked into that ‘New Year, New You’ mindset. It doesn’t help that the media (generally) makes us feel guilty about indulging ourselves a little over the festive period. But before you get conned into the latest celebrity-endorsed fads and crash diets, read these tips from the nutrition experts for a happy, healthy and fad-free new year. Selection of healthy food on rustic wooden background

We have one top-tip: ditch the diets! You may be surprised to learn that the majority of dieters regain the weight (and often more) that they worked so hard to lose. There are a number of proposed reasons for this high rate of weight regain, and it involves complex interactions between our biology (homeostatic system), the environment and our behaviour- all of which are influenced by genetics. You can read more about the research into this area by following this link.

 Have a Happy & Healthy 2017: Top Tips from the Nutrition Experts

“Banish guilt from your vocabulary. Set goals for what you want to achieve throughout 2017. Being healthy is not just for January.”

 Annemarie Knight, RD

“Focus new year resolutions on HEALTH not just weight e.g. physical activity or alcohol intake.”

Jessica Lockley, RD2b

“Everyone overeats when they’re tired, bored, down or stressed – it’s biology! Take the time to understand WHY you eat!”

Sophie Medlin, RD

“Walk/cycle to and from work.”

Dr Nicola Guess, RD

“Think nutrition not just calories when making food choices. Learn to cook/prepare your food. Make time to plan/eat/enjoy meals.”

Sinéad Curran, RD

“Ask for tupperware as gifts and take a packed lunch- only takes 10 minutes, saves you £s, and is often healthier!”

Chrissie Brown, RD2b

“Focus on getting the basics right – vegetables, highly processed food, movement & alcohol within guidelines!”

Helen West, RD

My “diet” vs. healthy eating radar:

X Cuts out an entire food group X

√ More fresh, less processed 

Dr Megan Rossi, RD

“Food wise: eat low processed foods as much as possible. Be mindful: Feed your emotional needs with something other than food.”

Mike Sweeney, RD

“Smash your scale and set positive health goals instead.”

Rebecca Scritchfield, RD

“Plan healthy meals in advance and get uses to writing shopping lists. Reduces waste and takes the stress out of thinking what to cook.”

Susan Short, RD

“Don’t buy out of habit, take extra time when food shopping to look at all fruit & veg stocked. What can you add to your diet?”

Clare Cremin, RD

“Have lots of healthy snacks on hand to avoid munching on biscuits etc.”

Maeve Hanan, RD

“For those of us who like meat, but know eating too much is unhealthy & unsustainable- Partial substitution of meat by pulses.”

Dr Terri Grassby, Lecturer in Food Sciences

“Downsize don’t Supersize…the problem may not be what you eat but how much! #portioncontrol

Leah McGrath, RD

 

Crafternooning for Mind and Winter Wellbeing Support

A great time was had by all recently at our two winter wellbeing crafternoon events. Of particular note was the creativity unleashed on our gingerbread figures, resulting in oompa loompas, a gingerbread Santa and some particularly snazzy outfits involving brightly-coloured sprinkles! However, underlying the festive snacks, biscuit decorating and general merriment was a serious message. The purpose of the event was to fund-raise and raise awareness of the mental health charity Mind.

crafternoon

Some of our wonderful creations at our Mind crafternoon event!

Since 1946, Mind, originally the National Association for Mental Health, has been working to provide empowering advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem and to nurture a culture of support and respect. We loved the idea of a crafternoon for all that it represented; a chance to take a break from study, come together to strengthen existing connections and make new ones and open up dialogues around mental health, not to mention having fun!

Mind, and indeed KCL, recognise that for a variety of reasons, the holiday season can be a time of year that provokes strong emotions and may prove a source of additional stress and strain.  For this reason, it’s important that we take care of ourselves, are kind to ourselves and each other and know where to turn for support with our wellbeing.  Whatever we’re going through, there is help at hand if we know where to look.

With this in mind, we’ve collated some helpful resources on self-care over the winter and sources of wellbeing and mental health-related support.

  • Winter Wellbeing Guide: Includes fun hints and tips on how to keep each one of the King’s Ways to Wellbeing in check over winter and some organisations to contact if we need help and support over the holiday period.
  • Christmas in London: a summary of what is going on in London, alternative options for Christmas Day and King’s student services over the winter break.
  • KCL Global Lounge: A space at the Waterloo Campus open during the holiday period for KCL students staying in London to come together.  The space will be staffed by student ambassadors and there will be games, light refreshments and films.
  • Global Lounge Facebook Group 
  • Stand Alone Festive Guide, for people experiencing familial estrangement.
  • Kyle’s Blog for Mind on coping with depression and anxiety at Christmas.
  • Mind Infoline: Want to talk about mental health? Mind’s Infoline is there for you.
  • Samaritans provides emotional support 24/7 every day of the year over the phone and is open for face-to-face visits at its central London office throughout the festive season.
  • Sources of assistance or immediate support in the local community 

However you’re spending the holidays, King’s Wellbeing wishes you the very best and will be here for you again with more wellbeing-related events and activities in the New Year.

A Cheap and Cheerful Christmas!

This time of year can really stretch the purse strings.  If you’re keeping an eye on your finances but looking to get into the festive spirit, look no further than this blog post from student Money Mentor Claire.

Cheap and Cheerful Christmas

You may be slightly scared by the holidays, and think that you need to start checking down the side of the sofa for any spare coins, as Christmas is always seen as a holiday which will stretch you thin. But it is time to change that misconception. Here are some easy ways to have fun in the festive season on a budget.

 Homemade gifts

Do not underestimate your creativity and artistic skills. Yes you may stick your hands together with PVA glue and spend ages peeling it off, but that is part of the fun. It is amazing how much you can do with ribbon and pompoms. You can find them from any arts and crafts shop and although glitter may be messy when you are making cards for your friends and family, the sparkle you add for the snow is quite breath-taking and far more personal than any card from WHSmith.crafternon

 

Some homemade cards, decorations and festive gifts from King’s Wellbeing’s recent crafternoon event in aid of mental health charity Mind.

 

 

If you are stuck on gift ideas, check out this website for a list of homemade presents and links to tutorials so you can do it yourself: https://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/cheap-and-easy-last-minute-diy-gifts-theyll-actually-want?utm_term=.pjJv8n2z9#.xyMRLvwAy

If you are a baker, then now is your time to throw on the apron and oven mits.  Pintrest and other websites have a huge collection of recipes (https://uk.pinterest.com/explore/christmas-recipes/) but if you are ever in doubt, add cinnamon or nutmeg to whatever you are baking and it is bound to make the kitchen smell wonderful and festive.

Carolling

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Fa la la la la, la la la la. (I bet you sang that in your head didn’t you?)carollers

Well, why not try singing out loud? Christmas carolling is a long lost tradition which I feel should be brought back to life. Grab your mittens and woolly hats and go singing with your friends! It is a lovely way to spend the evening with your nearest and dearest. Belt your heart out (don’t worry, mulled wine can help if you are feeling a bit shy). It is Christmas after all – the season of joy and goodwill – so your neighbours are sure to smile and may even join in, or offer you a mince pie for your efforts.

 Christmas Dinner

Warning: Do NOT go shopping on Christmas eve or even two days before that. The queues are likely to be huge and people can get aggressive when you are both eyeing up the last turkey on the shelf.

Make a list and stock up. There are often great offers on mince pies and nibbles so keep your eyes peeled. Carrots, parsnips and brussel sprouts also become very cheap in the weeks leading up to Christmas so why not buy extra? Cook a lot on Christmas day and then freeze the leftovers. Or just keep the extra veg in the fridge for a week later. Check the packets and buy the ones with long best before dates.

If you are having a whole turkey or chicken, don’t throw away the bones! They make a lovely soup which will help you keep warm in the chilly evenings and you can even add those extra carrots you bought to squeeze in one of your five a day. (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/moms_turkey_soup/)

Honestly though, after Christmas if when you get the real bargains. Supermarkets always overbuy and try to frantically get rid of stock in January so, even if you may be sick of figgy pudding at the moment, February blues is bound to make you go back to those Christmas cravings, so buy it while it is cheap and indulge in a post-Christmas pick-me-up!

Finally, I hate to be cheesy, but it is honestly true – Christmas isn’t about saving or spending money. It is about being with friends and family and creating priceless memories together. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!’

Don’t forget that our Money Mentors are here all year round during term to give guidance on making the most of your money, whatever your budget.  For specialist and detailed advice on your financial options please contact the Student Advice team. 

Volunteering for Samaritans – Shannon’s Experience Part 2

King’s alumna Shannon’s experience as a University Outreach Volunteer for Samaritans was challenging, rewarding and gave her pause for thought. In this installment of our blog series on mental wellbeing, Shannon outlines the duties she undertook as part of her role and describes the impact it had on her own perspective of mental health. Samaritans right way up

My Role

 As I was unable to dedicate the hours that would be required to become a listening volunteer, I opted to take on a role in the outreach division – which resulted in one of the most positive and fulfilling experiences of my life. In this role, it was my responsibility to contact universities (the counselling services, libraries, university halls, student societies, and more) to organise meetings with those who we might be able to assist in promoting the Samaritans to students.

Upon meeting with university staff in their respective divisions, I was surprised to find them enthusiastic about advertising our services, having been worried that it might be perceived as potential competition. However, the vast majority of counselling services were happy to have us on board, seeing us a means of additional support for their students- particularly those on the services waiting list.

samaritans

Thus, it was apparent to me that Samaritans was generally welcomed by university mental health services. The wellbeing of the students was paramount, and Samaritans already had a good name- it sold itself. Hence it took little effort on my part to arrange meetings with university facilities where I could talk about the full range of services that Samaritans had to offer, and what would be of most benefit to students. In conjunction with this, I focused on getting Samaritans advertised via various electronic means: in emails that got sent to students, on their webpages, on the counselling services application site, and all over the university on plasma screens where possible (i.e. campuses and libraries). This was so that students were aware that Samaritans knew how stressful university could be- and that they wanted to help.

The role also altered my own perspective on mental illness. Whilst I had my own experiences with it, and did not view it as something that should be stigmatised, it became clear through working at Samaritans just how limited my understanding was. The people who worked there were so much more open than me- and needed to be if they were going to be on the telephone, facing individuals with problems that I myself might find difficult to empathise with. However, as advertised, the service is completely judgment free – this means that no matter what the problem, or what the caller is experiencing, the volunteers wanted to hear it. samaritans number

Working in this role taught me that mental illness can take many forms: it wasn’t limited to existential depression, but rather could be triggered by any number of factors: from routine boredom to the loss of a loved one. All callers are offered the same befriending service- Samaritans understood that small triggers can lead to some pretty big feelings, something that I was taught during my time there.

I also learnt a lot about the vast amount of services that were offered at universities in an attempt to assist students who may be suffering from mental illness. This is particularly pertinent with the newly formed wellbeing service at King’s, and also the  peer listening volunteers trained by the Counselling Service. The support networks for struggling students were expanding, and it was evident to me that mental health was finally being treated with the importance that it deserved. Samaritans wanted to be part of this development in university culture, and encouraged the openness with which mental health was finally being addressed. WP_20160204_12_09_16_Pro

Shannon with some of the KCL peer supporters and Freddie and Julia from King’s Sport and King’s Wellbeing at last year’s ‘Time to Talk’ event.

One example of my active involvement during my time with Samaritans, whilst being a student myself at Kings, was taking part  in the ‘Time to Talk’ event run by the recently set up King’s Wellbeing team. The role consisted of manning a stall and going out from this base to approach students to encourage conversations around mental health. This simple job proved incredibly challenging at first- approaching cliques of students who seemed to be having DMCs was no easy task! However, once we got talking with some of them, it became apparent that the majority had encounters with mental illness- be it a personal experience, or a vicarious one through a friend or a loved one. The event was all about removing the stigma around mental health  and working towards an environment that was open to talking about emotional problems – without regarding them a sign of individual weakness, as has long been the case. It was all about encouraging individuals to broach the day-to-day stresses that, if left unacknowledged, could have serious implications: an initiative that Samaritans had been encouraging since it first began in 1953.

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The quickest way to contact the Samaritans and get a response is by phone on 116 123, this number is FREE to call 24 hours a day. You can also contact them via email, text, the web and by letter. http://www.samaritans.org/   

Samaritans phone lines will be open 24/7 throughout Christmas and new year  and their centre in central London is  open for face-to-face visitors between 9am and 9pm every day throughout this period.