Random Acts of Kindness

Happy 1st week of uni everyone! It is amazing that it is March already.  Febfast is over, another great event/awareness month in February is Feel Good Feb.  This description is from their Website:

“Feel Good Feb was created to encourage and inspire people to initiate random acts of kindness for their fellow community members. There has been extensive research to prove that ‘giving out good’ not only benefits the receiver but also increases the happiness of the giver. There’s mental happiness and physical benefits for all involved. It is a win-win situation!”

I know February is over, but it really got me thinking about Random Acts of Kindness and how we could put some “good feelings” into Semester 1 here at UON.  A Random Act of Kindness does not have to be a big deal, it can be as simple as asking a lost looking new student if they need some directions. Or smiling at someone who looks like they need it, give up your seat on the bus, the list is endless.  Random Acts of Kindness take very little effort and energy but can make a huge difference to someone’s day.  Imagine the domino effect if everyone here at UON did one small act of kindness this week, or even this month.  The flow-on effects would be beautiful.  Happier students, less stress, brains more able to learn. Exciting stuff!  Have a think about something little you can do.  What will be your Random Act of Kindness today?

p.s. You might be happy to know that I survived Febfast and did not have a single spoonful of chocolate icing! It was great to raise some money for a good cause; it was also really good to achieve a personal goal!

Managing Cravings

Well, it’s day 1 of my febfast challenge – no chocolate icing for me!

I am doing great so far, however I am aware that I am at work and my icing ingestion usually occurs at home.  So, I thought it would be a good idea to have some strategies ready to manage any icing cravings that do arrive after dinner tonight.

  1. Remove or avoid temptation – I ate the last of the temptation in my house yesterday!
  2. Stay connected and accountable – I have told my family (and everyone reading this) what I am doing, this way if I ask my husband to go down the road to get me a tub of Betty Crocker Chocolate Icing, he will say no and give me a hug to help with the disappointment
  3. Plan a substitution or distraction – I am going to have a bottle of water with me tonight and plan on reading my new book
  4. Surf the urge – think of a craving as a wave, it will peak then eventually go down
  5. Use relaxation or grounding strategies – these are great for taking your mind off cravings and lowering those stress levels – my favourite is focusing on my breath (5 deep breaths and I notice a significant calming effect)
  6. Exercise – getting moving does wonders for mood, stress and cravings – I am going to up my yoga classes this month as I know it will help

These strategies can be used for any type of craving.  If you have any other other useful strategies, please let us know! Don’t forget you can support me, and a worthy cause by donating here.

The 26th of January

Tomorrow is the 26th January and is commonly known as Australia Day. It is the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet and a day where many celebrate the official national day of Australia. For many Australians, Australia Day isn’t a day of celebration. It’s actually a day of mourning and a day that reflects all of the sadness and hurt felt by many Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people over the years. For many Australians, the 26th January is known as Invasion Day or Survival Day.

I am a Caucasian Australian and certainly not the best person to write about Survival Day. I did however want to highlight an important issue and encourage people to think about what 26th January might mean to other Australians.

This video asks Indigenous Australians what ‘Australia Day’ means to them.

There are campaigns to change the date of Australia Day, and part of those campaigns is bringing awareness to the wider population about what Australia Day means to its Indigenous people.

In discussing Survival day and the possible impact on UON Indigenous students, a staff member from Wollotuka here at UON said “If Koori kids are feeling isolated and alone then they should seek out their local Indigenous community to ask for support. It’s important that our communities feel welcome and safe on such a distressing day”.

If you need to tomorrow, please reach out to someone in your community. The university support services and Wollotuka will be back on Friday 27th.

febfast – What will you give up?

Welcome to 2017 on the blog!

I have a few friends that regularly participate in febfast and give up alcohol for the month of February.  I ffhave donated money before but never participated myself, or really known much about what it is and how it works.  I thought it was purely related to alcohol, however a look at the febfast website showed that you can choose to take a break from just about anything!

febfast started in 2007 as a way to raise money to connect disadvantaged young Australians with resources and support.  Participants publicly declare that they will give up something for the whole month of February, and family and friends sponsor them to raise money for a great cause.

Changing ingrained patterns and habits can be hard.  Participating in something like febfast can be a great way to start making some of those changes you have been thinking about for years.   Are you thinking about giving something up? Alcohol? Sugar? TV? Check out the febfast blog for some really ‘creative’ things you could give up this February, my favourites are the sky and eyebrows!!

As I am writing, I can hear this annoying (but insistent) part of me saying, “What are you going to do?” You can’t write about this and not do it yourself!” I hate it when I am right! So now to decide what to give up…

Alcohol…nope, I am pregnant so have already given that up. TV…nope, I don’t really watch much TV anyway. Eyebrows…definitely not, I am quite attached to my eyebrows (see febfast blog).  Hmm, so the annoying part of me knows exactly what I should give up but it involves an embarrassing confession.  I write this with my head down, cringing…

IcingI may currently have a pregnancy craving.  And I may currently be giving in to said craving and eating Betty Crocker chocolate icing, from a tub, with a spoon, on a daily basis. There, I said it.  So, I am going to take a pause from my daily consumption of chocolatey goodness for the whole month of February. Eeek.

So you can choose something you want to take a break from this February, or, you can sponsor me and help support disadvantaged young Australians. Stay tuned for updates during February!

Merry Christmas

Hi everyone,christmas

Well we have reached the end of another year, I for one am exhausted! This year seems to have gone by at lightening speed, I am looking forward to a chance to catch my breath.

The University’s Christmas Closedown begins today and the University will be closed until Wednesday 4th January 2017.  If you need urgent support over the break, check out our crisis page for emergency contact details.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a well-deserved break. See you in 2017!!

Skype Drop-In over Semester Break

Hi everyone.  I hope you are all enjoying the break! Semester 2 is done so the Skype Drop-In Service is also slowing down until 2017.  The night-time drop-ins have now stopped and will resume when semester 1 starts next year.  The day-time drop-ins will continue as follows:

skypeNow – 20/12/16  

Mondays 1-2pm

Thursdays 2.30-3.30pm

Fridays 9-10am

21/12/16 – 12/1/17


12/1/17 – 3/2/17

Thursdays 2.30-3.30pm

Friday 13th and 27th 9-10amlets-chat

6/2/17 – 26/2/17

Mondays 1-2pm

Thursdays 2.30-3.30pm

Fridays 9-10am

Semester 1 starts on 27/2/17

Back to normal : )


Best of 2016!

best-of-2016Hi everyone.  Kellie and I were reflecting on the blog posts this year and thought it would be interesting to have a look at the stats and see what the most popular blog posts were for 2016.

#3 – Results, Results, Results….

In 3rd place, this post from July 2016 has huge relevance 2 or 3 times a year! Coming up to another grade release date, this post will likely get a few more hits in the next couple of weeks.  Take advantage of the wisdom of someone who has been there and done that.  Fantastic things to remember coming up to release of grades.

#2 – How many balls are you juggling?

This post from February 2016 is all about balance.  The post has some great tips and resources for finding the all elusive balance between work, study, relationships, self-care and fun.  An excellent reminder, I can see why this post nabbed the 2nd spot.

#1 – Pokemon Go: a journey through time and Mayfield

Coming in at number 1. This post from July 2016 by a guest blogger, outlines the benefits of Pokemon Go in a interesting an engaging article that concludes “being a gamer and a wellness enthusiast need not be mutually exclusive”.

Check out what everyone else was looking at that this year that you might have missed!

Technical Difficulties!

Computer Meltdown


Hi there.  We have been having a few technical difficulties with the website this week although it appears to be working now.  However, if there is no new activity (i.e. new blog posts) for a while then you can assume our technical difficulties have returned.  All the usual content will still be available, including past blog posts and tip sheets, and we will be doing our best to get things back on track asap.  Happy 2nd last day of exam block everyone!!

So what’s next?

I remember vividly that period of limbo after finishing the last exam of the semester (Yay) and waiting for final grades to be released (Eek).  I would have one foot in holiday mode and the other stuck in an avalanche of thoughts and self-doubt. “I nailed it…I think I probably passed…Did I do enough…Why didn’t I put C for question 33…Did I even spell my name write on that essay paper…Did I write in English…Oh my goodness I will fail everything, lose my job and the world will explode…”whats-next

Well you get the idea, and I am sure everyone has found themselves somewhere on this spectrum after an exam.  A great tool so the thought avalanche doesn’t bury you is mindfulness, or staying in the present.  This is so helpful when our heads are running back to the exam or forward to results that haven’t been released yet. Check out this blog post about mindfulness, My Smiling Mind is also a great app that gives access to guided mindfulness and relaxation exercises.

Whilst rehashing the past and trying to predict the future can be unhelpful and increase stress, it is good to be aware of support services and options available if your grades are not what you had hoped for.  Something I used to remind myself of when waiting for results was “there is always an alternative”.  Sometimes that alternative looks very different to our original plan, it may mean a redo of a subject or a different pathway to the same goal.  The Skype Drop-in Sessions or an appointment with a Student Support Advisor are a good forum for you to discuss some alternative options that might suit your individual situation and what you hope to achieve.

For those of you with exams left this week, good luck! For those of you who have finished, try and enjoy the present.  Worrying about what comes next can make you miss out on the fun to be had today.

Exam Hump Week

humpWell it’s Hump Week. The first week of Semester 2 exams are done and there is only one week to go after this Friday. Woo Hoo!!
I am guessing most people are pretty tired by this time of the year and just wish exams were all finished. I found myself struggling at work this morning with motivation, the end of the year is almost here and I was focused on that instead what I was supposed to be doing. In an effort to bring myself back from December 21st (start of holidays for me!), I thought about what a huge year it has been and everything that I have achieved. This seemed to give me the boost I needed to be motivated to achieve the other goals I had set for myself this year (and do some actual work!). Most of your attention is probably on your upcoming final exams, however, take a minute to think about everything you have achieved this year and everything you still want to achieve (like finishing semester 2).

Two important things to remember in hump week are: keep up that exam preparation and study and remember to look after yourself. Take advantage of the information on our website, there are a number of past blog posts on study planning and managing anxiety and panic around exams. We also have heaps of great tip sheets such as Exam Anxiety, Procrastination, Enhancing Cognitive Functioning and Relaxation Techniques, to name just a few. Amidst all the study, remember that you will function much better if you are practicing some self-care. Taking time to get a good night’s sleep, eating regular balanced meals, staying active and maintaining social connections will contribute to your general well-being and functioning. Taking some time away from study for self-care will actually help your concentration and memory. If you need some extra support during this time please don’t hesitate to contact student support on (02) 4921 6622. Good luck everyone!!

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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