Making the Most of the Mid-Semester Break

The phrase “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy” was recorded as early as 1659 according to Wikipedia, which demonstrates that there has been a strong understanding of the need for work / life balance for almost 500 years.

So when mid-semester break arrives it is really important to not only catch up on overdue projects and assignments, but also to catch up on overdue sleep, exercise and social connections.

Studies in the science of resilience show that if we live in what scientists call an “enriched environment” i.e fun, stimulating, with good nutrition, exercise and company, that we become much more resilient to stress.

Let’s face it, we know that the pressure of study, assignments and exams will be increasing in second half of the semester, so ensuring a good balance of activity, rest and relationships during the semester break  makes sense.

Make the most of the final week of the break by making looking after your wellbeing a priority.

 

App Review  : Prana Breath

Learning to breathe effectively can dramatically increase your ability to manage stress and perform under pressure, and now you don’t have to even attend that Yoga class to get some breath training.

Prana breath guides you visually to control the ratio of  inhalation to exhalation, which is a simple way of activating the para-sympathetic nervous system, which helps us to calm down and relax.

The makers claim the following benefits, and as a Psychologist and Yoga Teacher I am in agreement, but only if you practice regularly.

+ Improves brain activity: memory, attention, concentration
+ Decreases colds’, migraine and asthma attacks’ frequency
+ Improves the quality of sleep
+ Develops resistance to stress, and physical endurance

Start training now, and you will reap the benefits come exam time !

PranaBreath is available on Android, and a similar app Universal Breathing – Pranayama Lite is available for Iphone

 

 


RUOK ? A conversation can change a life.

It’s a very sad fact that on average  8 people take their own life each day in Australia, and for each death, 30 others attempt suicide.

RUOK is a campaign to address the main risk factors of suicide:  Isolation and feeling like a burden to those around them.  The aim is to  increase our awareness of when our friends, family, co-workers or class mates are struggling, and perhaps becoming more withdrawn than normal.   It can feel uncomfortable for us to reach out, but RUOK helps by giving us simple action plan to follow.

1.      Ask RUOK ?

2.     Listen  without judgement

3.     Encourage action  e.g.   seeing a GP or counsellor.

4.     Check in.     Follow up at regular intervals to stay connected, and encourage further action.

 

NUPSA and the student services team was out and about on campus today spreading the message of RUOK, initiating converstaions  by handing out free fortune cookies to fortunate students.

Checkout the video of them in action here

Just because today is RUOK, does not mean we can’t can’t practice reaching out and asking RUOK throughout the year, today is just a reminder of how important a single conversation could be.  By reaching out you will increase your own self confidence and self esteem, and feel more connected.

We now even have a special bench outside Student Central to remind us to ask too.

Find more details about how to ask RUOK  at https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask

(All photographs courtesy of NUPSA )


Three Good Things

It is common for people to perceive that Psychology is all about mental illness, but this is far from the truth. The field of Clinical Psychology actually started to grow after World war I & II, when many soldiers returned from the war with shell shock ( known at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD nowadays), but there is also a branch of Psychology which focuses on making us better and happier humans. This branch is termed Positive Psychology, and its goal is to help promote “flourishing”.

Flourishing has 3 core features which include; positive emotions,  engagement & interest,  meaning & purpose

Other features of flourishing include;  self-esteem, optimism, resilience, vitality, self-determination and positive relationships.

I’m sure we’d all like a little more flourishing in our lives, and Positive Psychologists have been busy devising practical ways for us to do just that.

One of my favourite Positive Psychology based practices is called 3 Good Things.

 

3 Good Things : Instructions

Time required = 5-10  minutes/day for at least one week.

Each day for at least one week, write down three things that went well for you that day, and provide an explanation for why they went well. It is important to create a physical record of your items by writing them down; it is not enough simply to do this exercise in your head. The items can be relatively small in importance (e.g., “weather was warm and sunny ”) or relatively large (e.g., “I got an HD”). To make this exercise part of your daily routine, some find that writing before bed is helpful.

As you write, follow these instructions:

  1. Give the event a title (e.g., “received compliment on a project”)
  2. Write down exactly what happened in as much detail as possible, including what you did or said and, if others were involved, what they did or said.
  3. Include how this event made you feel at the time and how this event made you feel later (including now, as you remember it).
  4. Explain what you think caused this event—why it came to pass.
  5. Use whatever writing style you please, and do not worry about perfect grammar and spelling. Use as much detail as you’d like.
  6. If you find yourself focusing on negative feelings, refocus your mind on the good event and the positive feelings that came with it. This can take effort but gets easier with practice and can make a real difference in how you feel.

Try the 3 Good Things Challenge.

Commit to doing the 3 Good Things  exercise for a week and see what difference it makes to your mood and outlook on life.

 

 


The material or views expressed on this Blog are those of the author and do not represent those of the University.  Please report any offensive or improper use of this Blog to RPS@newcastle.edu.au.
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