Welcome and Invest in Relationships

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Feeling nervous about building new social connections? Don’t stress, you won’t be the only one!  It’s daunting to find yourself in a new environment, potentially without the friends and family who’ve been your anchor points over the last years close by and this is something that many new students are experiencing.  It’s worth remembering at this point that you’re entering into a community of almost 30,000 students from over 150 countries and are perfectly poised to meet a new and diverse range of people who could become friends for life.  That’s pretty special.

Invest in Relationships Challenge: Accommodation

So, how can you start to build a social network?  If you’re in uni accommodation, that’s a good place to start. Even if you don’t end up being close friends, it’s still better to be on first name and friendly terms in a convivial atmosphere than passing ships in the corridor.  That said, have a look at some of these challenges below and don’t forget to buy and print your NUS card at the Welcome Fair to take advantages of student discounts while you socialise:

  • Knock and introduce. Take a deep breath and go and knock on the doors of everyone around you in halls.  Say ‘hi’, introduce yourself and, if you get a good vibe, see if they fancy meeting up for coffee/going to an event together such as our Welcome Marquee takeovers on the 21st at Strand (10am-7.30pm) and the 22nd at Guy’s (10am-3pm).

Wilmington DE © @timsavageYou just never know if the person behind the next door will turn out to be a great friend.  In any case, we bet it won’t be as scary as knocking on these doors!

  • The communal meal. Are you in accommodation with a shared kitchen?  Why not get everyone together for some chips and dips and drinks, or a meal if you’re feeling adventurous and get to know each other.  Don’t worry if your culinary skills aren’t up to much just yet; it’s all a learning process and many a uni friendship has been forged over experimental meals in the communal kitchen!

food small Lacking in the culinary skills department? No need to worry!  You won’t be alone!

  • Keep saying ‘hi’. Cut your flatmates a little slack if they don’t initially appear all that friendly.  They may just be taking a little while to acclimatise, so don’t write them off.  Keep being friendly and offer them the chance to come out of their shell when they’re ready.

Don’t forget that your Residence Associates (RA’s) will be putting on social and community-building events throughout the year in your halls – the perfect opportunity to get to know your new neighbours.

Trying new activities

Uni is the perfect time to try out new activities and from bhangra to Dr.  Who, tea drinking, to social justice, there is a KCLSU society for absolutely everyone. If you’re a bit nervous about going, just remember that this is the time of year when most new members join, so you’ll be in the same boat as a lot of other students.  You’ll come across societies recruiting at the Welcome Fair and around campus – they want you there!  And don’t be afraid to try something new.  If you find it’s not for you, you haven’t lost out, but you may just awaken a hitherto undiscovered passion or talent.

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Who’s to know what new passions and talents might be unleashed at the KCLSU Welcome Fair!

Aside from societies, don’t forget that there are other social events all year round within your academic departments, halls and Student Services.   Anyone staying in London over the winter holiday period can also make use of the Global Lounge provided by International Advice.

For a weekly get-together in an informal and friendly environment, why not check out the chaplaincy international lunch, running on each campus every week, aimed at bringing together international and home students of all faiths and none.  Whatever your faith background and nationality, you can be assured of a warm welcome.  Whoever said there was no such thing as a free lunch was very much mistaken!

Keep investing

Amidst the hubbub of freshers’ week and finding your feet with balancing academic work with social time, take some time out to reflect on your support network before KCL. Who in your life do you truly value; which relationships mean the world to you, are supportive and a force for positivity in your life?  Once you’ve reflected; whether this be friends, family, significant other, think about how you can continue to invest in these relationships even if there may be distance between you.

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9f84f38168542230d3d27c1e1b466bfdIt’s a common thing to worry about how a significant life change like going to uni might affect the dynamics of our relationships, but with Skype, WhatsApp, snapchat and student travel discounts, you needn’t feel far removed.  You can actually have the best of both worlds as you continue to nurture your prior relationships and broaden your social circle at King’s.

Keep Investing Challenge: Reach Out

So, why not reach out now?  Think of your super 5 supporters, who you know always have your back and write them down.  Send them all a card to let them know you’re thinking of them, drop them a text or a WhatsApp message and let them know how you’re getting on.

Welcome and Keep Moving

Wondering how to keep fit and active during your time at KCL?  You might already have found a sport or activity that you love with a passion.  If so, that’s great!  You’ll almost certainly find a club or society where you can get involved at your comfort level.  If not, no worries!  It’s the perfect opportunity to experiment and find an activity to suit your level and approach and you can even set up your own society if it doesn’t already exist.  Read on for a bit of guidance and a few fun challenges to help you get moving at King’s.

Active KCL – Take Advantage!

Check out the wide variety of sports and movement-based activities on offer.  Whether you’re a competitive athlete or just looking for a way to keep moving with some fun activities in an informal setting, there’s something for everyone at KCL.

You can choose from club sport on the KCL Sport website, the gym, the many KCLSU sports societies and don’t forget Be Active; KCL’s social sport programme.  At only £25 for the year (free if you’re in halls) it’s a bargain and has something to bring out the inner active side of even the most reluctant sportspeople among you!

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No need to suffer through workouts you  don’t enjoy!

The new Active Wellness scheme is also there to support students experiencing mental health difficulties to implement a health and fitness programme to help optimise physical and mental wellbeing.

Keep Active Challenge: London on Foot

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Tempting as it may be to jump on the Underground to get around, take advantage of the autumn weather to scope out the local area around your accommodation and campus on foot.  Go exploring with some people from your halls or course and identify some nice cafes, pubs or eateries to unwind after lectures. Don’t forget to check if you get a student discount!

Discover some of London’s many parks and green spaces and maybe arrange to walk to campus a couple of days a week (weather permitting!) to kick-start your day with some fresh air and gentle exercise.  You could even book a free walking tour with Free Tours by Foot with some new acquaintances and get to know the city and your fellow students at the same time.

Keep Active Challenge: Being Healthy and Active Your Way

Take 10 minutes to peruse the vast array of sports and activities on offer.  Find one that suits you, your fitness level and approach to exercise and give it a go!

You might also like to check out our very own Wellbeing Coach Wilna’s blog post about her journey to  fitness and marathon running and the benefits it’s brought to her physical and mental health here!

Wilna running Wellbeing Coach Wilna getting into the running zone!

 

 

Moving into Uni Halls

A warm welcome to all of our new King’s students!  And greetings to our returnees; it’s great to see you  back for the new academic year.  We hope this blog post finds you well and settling into your new lodgings.  One of the big adjustments you’re probably making is communal living; it can be nerve-racking to move in with new people!  But just remember, it’s OK to be nervous and everyone’s in the same boat.  Be sure to introduce yourself to your flatmates and neighbours in halls, try and organise something social early on to break the ice and take advantage of any events organised by your RA’s. 

Fortunately for us, Claire, one of our Student Money Mentors and prolific blog writer, is back this academic year with her top tips for making the most of uni, written in her own inimitable style.  First on the list is her take on life in halls and she’ll be back again shortly with some advice for cooking on a budget, so check back again soon!

Not everyone will move into Halls at university. My parents called it ‘digs’, which made me laugh as it made me think I would be living in a literal hole. Luckily, although some apartments may be small, none of them are buried in the ground. There are a few things you ought to do when you first move in though, and a few things to be prepared for.

  1. Someone will steal your food

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Whether it is because they are desperate and have run out of everything in their cupboard, or (more likely) when they have come back late from a night out and are peckish, one day you will wake up and your packet of biscuits you keep as a treat will be finished.

Do not panic.

Yes it is annoying and yes you will hate your flatmates for a bit while you mourn your bourbons, but in the end, it is only biscuits. If they are true friends, they will buy you a pack in compensation afterwards, if not, forgive and forget – save your grudges for bigger things

2. Label your Saucepans

It may seem childish to think that this is ‘mine’ and this is ‘yours’ but it is very easy to get mixed up, and if you bought an expensive non stick Tefal pan, then you don’t want someone burning their sausages and eggs on it and not washing it up. Especially if you are a vegan and can’t eat eggs nor sausages.

The same goes if you have allergies. You don’t want someone storing their walnuts in your plastic container when you have a nut allergy – that is nut cool (get it? XP Okay I will stop). When you move in, make sure you let your flatmates know about anything like that so they can be considerate.

3. Be Fair

Loo roll and washing up liquid can start a lot of arguments. Be honest, and if you haven’t chipped in for a while, take the initiative and buy the next set. Make a rota if you have to, but don’t be the person everyone hates because you always take and never give back. You want your parents to be proud of the person they brought up.

  1. Stay Positive

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Don’t make snap judgements. When you got to university, you are going to meet so many new people so keep an open mind. You will click with some people and less with others, but make sure you approach everyone with an open mind. Try going to Football Try-Outs even if you haven’t played for half a decade, or join the Board Games Night because it may be a lot of fun. The welcome period is when you can dip your toe into so many new experiences, so grasp that opportunity

  1. Invest in an eye mask and ear plug

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If you are a light sleeper, it is worth investing in these. The curtains and walls in Halls can often be quite thin. You may think you can survive a few nights on less than 4 hours sleep but they stack up very quickly and coffee can only do so much.

Trust me, you will enjoy uni a lot more with a decent night’s sleep. If that means having a cuddly teddy from childhood, do it!

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.

 

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 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

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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