The Social dilemma – why am I scrolling more than I’m sleeping?

The Social dilemma – why am I scrolling more than I’m sleeping?

Scroll versus sleep? I recently watched The Social Dilemma and it left me feeling pretty hopeless. I thought I was pretty good at not being on my phone, putting it down at 11pm and trying not to lift it until 8am the next day. But the screen time reminder thinks otherwise. It likes to prod fun at me with jeering messages informing me my screen time is up 15% on the previous week for a grand total of 6 hr 17 mins a day. Six hours a day on my phone… how? Doing what? Achieving what? I claim that I don’t have time to read two books a week but I can do 6 hours A DAY of giving Zuckerberg more data to manipulate and sell. Scandalous. Six hours is the number of hours I sleep. More sleeping than scrolling is the healthier option here. So every week I look at my screen reports and vow that next week I will be better but better never seems to happen. Why?

Even while watching the documentary which informed us of the heinous nature of social media and the power our smartphones have over us, I still found myself reaching for my phone every time it buzzed and sometimes even when it didn’t. Our phones have become an extension of us, an additional limb; tethered to us at all times. You would be shocked if you looked at the amount of times you pick up your phone on a daily basis. Mine exceeds 200 nearly everyday. Can you imagine doing anything else 200 plus times a day that isn’t a natural bodily function like blinking or breathing? Our phones have become so intrinsically linked to our person that we pick them up subconsciously and unwittingly immerse ourselves in the online sphere rather than engaging in the physical world around us.

According to an article by Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes,  whenever you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical called dopamine along a reward pathway resulting in a feel good feeling. Therefore it is no wonder our phones are such a distraction; they have become a quick and easy way to get a dopamine hit by simply getting attention from your network in the form of likes, comments, retweets, all with just a few taps of your thumb. The constant chasing of this validation is an addiction and neurologically damaging. The documentary indicated the soaring levels of anxiety and depression amongst young people brought on directly by social media overload.

We are thus left in this social dilemma – we know the constant scrolling and constant use of social media is damaging yet it also has a wide range of positive aspects. We know that it allows us to connect with friends/family on different continents, to engage with educational content, lending a platform to marginalized voices and boosting social justice movements to name a few. This is even more imperative in 2020. Perhaps The Social Dilemma needs to be taken with a pinch of salt? There aren’t three men in a room who are carefully planning and controlling every aspect of our feeds but there is a carefully curated algorithm tailored to us. It manipulates features to make our devices as addictive as possible to keep us tipping those scales towards more scroll and less sleep. Thus with this in mind – it is no negative feat to try reduce our screen time. Is it too late for us to change our habits? I don’t think so. You can take control. You can have your own algorithm in real life. Several small changes can lead to a bigger overall shift in our relationship with our phones. I have been setting screen lock to kick in at 10.30pm-8.30am, turning off notifications for apps, leaving it at home when I go on a walk and charging it in a different room are all small but significant ways I have started trying to reduce my screen time. It’s actually becoming easier as time goes on. Hopefully in a few weeks I will be reading rather than refreshing, talking more than texting and most importantly sleeping more than scrolling.

Lucy Mullan is an Msc in PR and Communications at Ulster University, working part-time at Keys Premium Finance. She can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-mullan-2b8309102/

When you can’t control the situation, control your reaction to it

I think everyone would agree that normality has been thrown out the window and a ‘self-isolating book for dummies’ would be greatly appreciated right now. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon so I have came to the conclusion that we have two options:

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  • We can let the situation take control of us
  • Or accept that we can’t control the situation but we can control our reaction to it.

 

The cliche is true: we really are all in this together. I am now 5 weeks into isolation and the version of me that you would have seen 4 weeks ago is extremely different to now.

The Meltdown

When isolation began I worked from home for a few weeks. Truth be told if not for work I would have lost my mind! It was the only thing filling these long and empty days (and I know a lot of people will relate). Next thing you know I am off work for 4  weeks and now what? This is the question I asked myself repeatedly. For the first time in so long I had no purpose and that was the most difficult thing. The next few days was a downward spiral of: anxiety, sleepless nights and mind draining bordem.

The Comeback

Looking back now I’m annoyed  that I wasted a week moping around feeling sorry for myself. Little by little, day by day I started doing things that I had been putting off because I was so busy. Then it occurred to me that I have been handed a huge opportunity! Think about it under normal circumstances if someone said to you: ‘take 4 weeks off work and do nothing or go try new things or spend time with your family’ YOU’D BE BUZZING! SO that’s exactly what I did!

A New Chapter

First steps: Write a list of things that you always said ‘I’d love to try that’. Now go and do it. It’s that simple. Read the book that you bought 6 months ago, try a 30 day online yoga class, bake a cake, start a blog.

(This actually is my list and I have now done all of the above!)

Doing all of these things was great and it distracted me for an hour everyday. But I knew that if I was to take back control I would have to be in control of my emotions and my mind.  After a lot of research and many podcasts later I learnt that journaling may be the answer to all of my problems. I have kept a journal on and off for many years but I’ve never committed to it, so after lots of research I realized that I definitely wasn’t doing it right before nor was I getting the many benefits out of it.

Journaling

“ What a comfort is this journal I tell myself to myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved.” Anne Lister.

After a few weeks I perfected the journaling technique that worked for me. This quotation is the best way that I can explain it. Usually we would open up to other people. But there is so much going on in the world right now that no one wants to hear my first world problems, so I open up to my journal.  I wanted something that would: add structure to my day, allow me to aim for goals, let me reflect on how I felt and visualise beyond this time in my life (creating a sense of hope). I can honestly say that the benefits that this process has had on my mental health has been mind blowing and for the first time in a long time I have control and I am happy. 

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Journaling pages pictured on my blog @mindtalkblog

I was always that person that bottled things up and kept myself to myself. I hid behind an insecure smile and I found it difficult to sleep because the conversation between me & my mind was so negative. I can not stress enough the positive impact this has had on my life and especially on the quality of my sleep. I now sleep like a BABY!

Tip: I have gotten into the habit of finishing my journal entry every night by writing down a few things that I am GRATEFUL for. Because no matter how tough the situation is, we all have at least one thing in our lives that we are grateful for.

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My Blog

The new me had so much energy and positivity that I wanted to share my thoughts about journaling with other people. I believed that everyone should have the chance to experience how I feel. So, on 15th April I set up my own blog on Instagram called mindtalkblog. It talks about all things journaling: what it is; how to do it; tips & techniques etc. and to my surprise the response has been amazing!

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https://www.instagram.com/mindtalkblog/ FOLLOW ME!!

I have wanted to create a blog for years but something in the back of my mind has always stopped me. Perhaps it was my confidence or perhaps I had to go through this experience first. But finally I ran out of excuses because all we have at the minute is time. Time to take chances, time to grow and time to flourish.

So I will say it one last time: When you can’t control the situation, control your reaction to it.

 

Kayleigh Tinney is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently doing a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on: Instagram – @Kayleightinney and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kayleigh-tinney-76b240161/.

Life with Asthma

Most of you will know what Asthma is, but for those who don’t it is a chronic respiratory disease. Basically when your airways are branded as ‘sensitive’, meaning they easily become inflamed and are itching to react as soon as they come into contact with something they don’t like.

CL1My dad has it, my brother has it and of course I have it. I was diagnosed with Asthma before I was five, extremely young for such as serious disease. My Asthma as a child was awful verging on severe. In all honesty, I know so many people that underestimate the disease and how deadly it can be. But it only takes a quick look at the stats to change this.

‘In the UK every 10 seconds someone has a life threating Asthma attack with a death rate of 3 people per day.’

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Don’t get me wrong as a child I loved a wee spin in an ambulance every few months. Isn’t that every child’s dream to be speeding up the road with the flashing blue lights on and the serine blurring feeling like a VIP. Mummy not so much. The water works were on and the worry was through the roof. I knew it was bad when even the out of hour’s doctors knew my name.

Everyone has their own triggers and their own ways of dealing with it. Anything can really set it off. For me it ranges from the cold, winter air to damp, dusty carpets. Not ideal when you’re living in a student house. Even little things have me struggling, e.g. cleaning my room without the dust getting to me. Luckily, my mummy comes to the rescue here which is a big win as my room has seen some states. When I can feel an asthma attack coming on I always find that breathing through/into something helps me to focus on my breathing whether it is into a paper bag or an anti-allergy pillow. 

On the downside one of my triggers is hay. An absolute nightmare with my grandparents and 5 out of 7 of my uncles on my mum’s side being farmers. Having to stay out of sheds and not being able to go away up the farm with my cousins had me tortured as a child. You wouldn’t have wanted to see the tantrums I had, especially when they were feeding pet lambs. Worse yet, have you ever riden a horse? Because I haven’t.

Trust me plenty of people with Asthma smoke but it really depends on how bad you have it. Me? Well if I took one puff out of a cigarette I’d be wheezing for a month or two at least. Personally, other people smoking around me doesn’t bother me as long as the smoke isn’t blowing in my face but I think that’s a pet hate for a lot of people. Just a quick heads up, if you see me on a night out please don’t be that one annoying person that keeps offering me a fag. There’s only so many times I can say ‘no’ nicely.

But that’s not even the most annoying thing.

It’s that annual Asthma check-up. Oh how I dread it every year. Only because of the Peak Flow test. Yes, it looks simple. Yes, all you have to do is blow into a tube. And yes, I still suck at it. Leading to that endless row with the nurses about how I could never do it, for them to tell me that I should be scoring better and giving me the same rant as the years before. SO ANNOYING.

TOP TIP: If you want to infuriate a person with Asthma then here’s an easy way to do it. Tell them that you had it or your sister had it and it was cured. Yes, sometimes Asthma can disappear in children or settle down for adolescences but there is NO cure for Asthma. So, we really don’t want to hear it.

Lucky for me my Asthma has settled down over the past few years. I no longer have to constantly worry about the activities I’m doing or where I’m going and I’ve had no recent spins in an ambulance. But I still do keep my inhalers close just in case that changes. On that note I’ll leave you here with a photo of my younger self, how cute was I?

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Claire Loughran is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-loughran-959871169/

Successful Way to Binge Watch Netflix

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Firstly, to binge watch Netflix successfully you must know the good series so I will let you all in on what I think is good now and what I recommend before letting you in on my trick of binge watching, I tend to binge watch some series multiple times. And I will let you all in on a few Netflix top tips… Unless you already know that is.

  • Friends

This is an all-time favourite for a lot of individuals because of the relatable characters like Joey, Rachel, Monica, Ross, Chandler and Phoebe who have real life problems. Friends fanatics tend to find it one of the most quotable shows making it very exciting to rewatch with sayings from Ross like  “Pivot” and “We were on a break” or creative songs by Phoebe “Smelly Cat” being one of many. Google have recently celebrated the anniversary of Friends with quirky reminders of the show – if you google the characters you’ll understand. Friends founded itself in the middle of the rising New York media in the ’90s. When watching Friends at some points in the last few seasons you might feel, why am I still watching this? The series finale is a near- perfect end to the show we continuously wish we had new episodes to watch. And it’s rumoured we might get to!

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  • Stranger Things

Like Friends the young, constantly growing cast can be relatable but new at the same time. New characters that have been introduced to our screens included Billy, Bob Newby, Max and numerous other characters, these new characters help to create a new but developed narrative in each season which will make us as the audience more likely to watch on and see how the new relationships develop. Stranger Things has its advantage of young characters there is a lot of humour especially in the sci-fi/ 90’s aspect to it. ‘Stranger Things’ is meant to include tension, but the constant humour creates a friendly nature, the adults present a perspective for other potential audiences. The interesting characters within the show is the best reason to binge watch this show it is based in a fictional town but tends to have distorted views of non-fiction within, it is a great watch and season 4 will hopefully be out soon to do some more binge watching.

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  • Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is one of my top picks and was released on BBC in 2013 and has been expanding to audiences since then – it is about a small family run gang in the Streets of Birmingham after the great war – it is run by the Shelby Family with they key character being Tommy Shelby who is also one of the most hated characters. (who is my personal fave). Even though the Peaky Blinders have 6 episodes in each season, it gives viewers a lot of action in a short space of time than any other period dramas, constantly keeping your heart in your hands. With the number of episodes Peaky Blinders is easy to binge watch over a weekend. As soon as you start to grow to love the characters the show wastes no time putting them in danger putting your body in full adrenaline mode keeping you on edge. With characters like Tommy and John Shelby you will be dying for more episodes, the Shelby men are easy on the eye.

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  • Gossip Girl

There are so many reasons to watch Gossip Girl, the New York fashion scene – since majority of characters are wealthy, they have a lot of high-end clothes. With the ladies wearing high heels and Blair Waldorf’s fashionable headband the men also know how to strut their stuff. The cast are also very likeable characters with relatable characters having problems in their personal lives. It takes place in New York, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Upper East Side – you can visit some of the places in Gossip Girl which is exciting for any fanatics. The key phrase in this show has to be *key the music* “You know you love me XO XO GOSSIP GIRL.” However, the second last episode the characters realise who Gossip Girl was the whole time, which is the penultimate moment of the drama, then finding out other characters who have known already. (I am currently rewatching so felt that this was a necessary one).

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OK, so getting into binge watching there is a lot of Netflix hacks to know – there is a latest tab which will keep you into seeing new and upcoming shows and you can click into them – you can also get reminded of when they come out on Netflix by getting notified when they arrive! Another tip is the preview section, you can watch a clip that will show you a good preview and understanding, you can add shows to your watchlist after watching the previews by pressing the plus sign or play and watch the whole thing there and then. You can get recommendations by getting ratings, so give something a thumbs up if you really love it.

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Step 1:

Clear your schedule:

  • You need to make sure that you have no priorities when starting to binge watch, when several episodes deep you’ll not want to do what you might have planned to do later on.
  • You need to review your show before starting as some shows don’t have that many episodes and may be binge watched in a few hours but some a few weeks. This may make you choose between a night out with the pals or a night in with Netflix and chocolate.
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Step 2:

Find somewhere cosy:

  • Since you’re going to be chilling in the one spot you might as well make yourself comfortable. So, try binge watching on a recliner or on your sofa, try watching on a TV and avoid watching on a computer or mobile phone because it can cause eye strain.
  • Only problem with watching TV in bed is it can lead to insomnia, this can be seen through studies that have concluded the blue light from screens trick your brains and making you feel more awake. Screen time affects sleep through its effect on pre-sleep arousal.

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Step 3:

Stock up on treats:

  • Nourish yourself so you don’t have to get up mid-season, if you like healthy snacks, don’t forget to stock up on them.
  • Try to portion out your snacks so you don’t make yourself sick by eating too much at the one time.
  • You might as well have a few treats do give you a bit of energy.

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Step 4

Use a binge-watching session as an opportunity to hydrate. (This step is optional)

  • Keep your water handy to yourself and refill between episodes.
  • Feel free to twist it up with some of your healthy snacks (berries/ orlemons) to give it a bit of flavour.

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You can sign up for free trials on Netflix if you’ve never tried it before – the 7-day free trial is one of the best inventions for binge watching because it is a free way of watching without paying and there’s a time limit so you’re more likely to binge. Make sure to cancel to avoid any charges as Netflix normally ask for credit card numbers (this is their way to catch you).

Watch with a friend it may be free for you and is also more fun watching with someone else because you can get opinions afterwards. Try to avoid watching the show with someone who has seen it as they could potentially spoil it on you.

Finally, if you are binge watching before bed turn off 30 minutes before you go so you can get a good night’s sleep, you must give your brain some time to unwind like I said earlier.

There are no real necessary steps these are just a guidance.

I tend to constantly binge-watch series both inside and outside Netflix so hopefully these steps will help you. Another few amazing shows to watch that aren’t on Netflix are “How to Get Away with Murder”, “One Tree Hill” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

For more popular reviews on TV shows go to websites like Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Caithlen Loughran is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/caithlenloughran.x , LinkedIn – Caithlen Loughran and Instagram – caithlenloughran

When One Door Closes, Another Door…Closes??

That’s what it felt like for a few years anyway. Things just weren’t what I anticipated when I left school and threw myself into University life, that I was sceptical of going to in the first place (I’ll get to that in a bit).

‘What’s for you won’t go past you,’ as my ma liked to remind me every so often, when something went wrong or didn’t work out the way I wanted… Usually to my own accord mind you. Being too laid back, going with the flow and thinking everything would work out eventually. Or, was I just being too lazy and not taking life into my own hands? Lazy probably being the obvious answer.

They say things happen for a reason, and everybody is on a different path in life. Perhaps my path was just a little different than usual? I’ve often asked myself this question. Quite simply, I’ve learned a lot from my experiences and journey so far. It has allowed me to become more mature (very debatable) and understand ‘me’ a little better. So here it is.

In school, my degree of choice, at that time, was available to study at either Ulster University Coleraine or Queens Belfast. Queens being the more desirable choice of the two as I was enticed by the reputation of being a ‘Queens student’ but, I didn’t get the grades; Shock…

After multiple meetings with the VP of our school, he convinced me to take on the challenge of going somewhere other than Belfast and the Rose & Crown, thinking it would be the best for me. For me, a gap year was off the cards. Even if it was Coleraine, I just wanted to get to Uni and experience the student lifestyle. So I bought into it.

I had it all planned out in my head, new adventure, living away from home, house parties, maybe go to class the odd time, go for runs on the beach on my days off and hopefully in the end of it all get my degree. Absolutely, none of these things happened. After a month into the course I realised I hated it. I was staying in halls, living with two other lads that were, to say the least, not the most social of people; so the house parties were soon knocked on the head. Living away from home was not great, as I soon came to realise. Living on microwavable meals every day, it was fair to say I missed my mas cooking. And for the runs on the beach, it was f*@King freezing. The picture I had in my head, Uni life turned out to be everything but that.

To no surprise, shortly after February I dropped out. From then I took on my first full-time job. Having no degree or trade, my choices were limited. It’s true what they say, beggars really can’t be choosers. But could factory work really be that bad? The full-time pay did sound good after all. The following March, I started on the factory floor. A normal day-to-day in the factory consisted of; packaging eggs, standing at the same spot looking at the same assembly line and the same people for 10 hours a day, 6 sometimes 7 days a week. Before swiftly getting ‘pRoMoTeD’ to dispatch. Here was just a slight upgrade from hell, were I loaded deliveries onto Lorries to be distributed to local supermarkets. As EGGxiting as this all sounds, it wasn’t.

I spent 9 months there, before getting fed up with the long hours and I can assure you, my hate for eggs was very REAL. I don’t think I ate an egg for a month or 2 after I quit, the bad memories just weren’t worth it.

My next move didn’t get much better. I went and done sparking for a few months travelling throughout the UK spending a lot of my time away from home, working 12 days at a time. I was 19, homesick and had hated the thought of missing out with the lads, the craic back home and feeling the football season just passing me by. Life just wasn’t the same. Yet another job that wasn’t what I wanted or could picture myself doing all my life.

Lo and behold the prodigal son has returned!!!

Yes, I was back in the egg business, something I thought I’d never see again (never say never). People need their eggs, and no better man to get the job done and provide that service than myself. . . . . However, I knew this wasn’t my path. At least I hoped not.

I lasted another 6 months before getting a job in engineering which I actually liked, but I think that was more to do with the craic with the men more so the work. I wasn’t getting a break with the right jobs. It really did feel like once one door closed, the right door was firmly closed shut and wasn’t for opening anytime soon. The only doors I seemed to unlock were dead end jobs.

As they like to remind us, mums are always right. This is leading me onto ‘what’s for you won’t go past you’ paragraph. At work, the men would have kindly nominated myself to do the weekly run to the local deli to get them a fry on a Friday morning. A treat for us at the end of a hard weeks work – few of them could definitely have done with a salad instead, which I liked to remind them of. One morning, I bumped into an old teacher of mine. As we got chatting, I told him I had an idea of going back to university but had no idea what field to go down. Without hesitation, he arranged a date for us to meet up. I agreed to go, in hope for inspiration and to start a new path in life. A clean slate.

Finally, a door worth opening.

There’s a silver lining to every story, including this one. Who knew a run in with my old teacher would give me the push I needed to make another attempt at Uni. This time it was different, I knew this because of what I had come through in comparison to when I started in Coleraine, 3 years previous. Here I am, in my final year studies writing my first blog. Who would have guessed with my track record? So if you’re struggling like I was, keep banging on them doors, hoping the right one will open and if not, put it through.

Shea Hamill is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shea-hamill-66026a180/

Top 10 Tips For Surviving Disney World

If you’ve never been or never waned to go to Disney World please put it right at the top of your bucket list as a must. Honestly, it’s one of the best experiences ever. However, if you’re one for lounging about chillin’ by a pool then Disney World probably isn’t for you.

I’ve decided to be the good samaritan and jot down my top 10 tips for surviving the famous Walt Disney World.

1.Plan it out – This is tip number one because hand on heart this will make your Disney experience 1000000x better. No joke. Disney World is a big place (fun fact: it’s the same size as San Francisco. Crazy right?). Plan when you’re going to go and what park you are going to do on what day. To do it right, take a park each day. Trust me, it’ll help you in the long run.

2. Take Rain Attire – If you are planning to go during the Summer months be prepared for rain. A lot of it. Hate to be bearer of bad news but it normally rains or a tropical storm happens every day in Florida so bring your wet gear. Don’t let this put you off though because you don’t even think about that when you’re there. Plus it’ll only rain for an hour or two. So either buy a poncho before you go or get one at the park. They cost like 15 bucks but they have a cute Disney logo on the back of it so its acceptable. I bought it and still don’t regret it. Side note: take it home with you and use it for festivals or outdoorsy things, it’s a lifesaver. Bring flip flops in your bag too. Nobody wants wet, squidgy feet.

3. FastPasses – Best thing about buying package tickets online is the fact that you normally get FastPasses included in your price. With Disney you get 3 FastPasses per day to use. So if your staying at a Disney Resort you get 60 days in advance to make your FastPasses and if you’re staying anywhere else it’s 30 days. Use this to your advantage. It saves you so much time when standing in lines because if you don’t be prepared to stand in a 40 minute queue. It’s your own fault though. You set these up through the MyDisney Experience app.

4. To Do Rides: Okay these are my top attractions in Disney World. 10/10 would recommend.

  • Flight of Passage
  • Tower of Terror
  • Test Track
  • Soarin’
  • Expedition Everest
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Frozen
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Mission: Space
  • Peter Pans Flight
  • Rock N’ Roller Coaster
  • Space Mountain

5. Mobile Quick Service Food – You can find this on the MyDisney Experience App. Go onto the app and order your food from a quick service near you. You’ll pay through the app so all you have to do is go pick it up.  It’ll save you from standing in even more queues.

6. Shows– If you are going to choose a closing show at night to go see make Happily Ever After in Magic Kingdom your number one. So good. So magical. You won’t be disappointed. To be honest, you won’t be disappointed in anything Disney but this is just insane. Side note no.2: instead of getting the monorail to the transport center after the fireworks because its queue galore get it to the Grand Floridian and get an Uber there – you’ll save a load of time.

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7. Get a Magic Band  – A Magic Band is a band around your wrist that links to your Disney Ticket. You have to buy them but they’re a cute accessory. If you get irritated easily with having to go in and out of your bag for your ticket because you need to scan it to get onto your FastPass rides buy one of these.

8. Single Riders Line – If you don’t mind being separated from who your with whilst on an attraction at Disney then make use of this. The length of time that you would have spent in a normal queue is nonexistent in a single rider queue.

9. Toy Story Land in the evening or cloudy day – Please don’t make the mistake of going to Toy Story Land during the day or you’ll prolly end up looking like a squashie if you know what I mean. There is no shelter whatsoever so go on a cloudy day or during the evening when it’s all lit up nice and that.

10. Be a child for the day. – Don’t be a party pooper. Enjoy yourself because everyone else is. Disney brings out the inner child in everyone (or so I think). So if you wanna go on a flying elephant Dumbo ride and wear Mickey Mouse ears, you do you boo. After all you’re at the happiest place on earth.

So now you can go home and live Happily Ever After that you did Disney right.

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Courtney O’Neill is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @Courtneyon21 and Linkedin: @courtneyoneill

The Fears of Social Media

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I have always been interested in social media and how it has influenced every aspect of our lives. People are obsessed with their image, likes and how they present themselves on various platforms, and as the years have went on our social skills and social anxiety have plummeted. We feel the need to be constantly connected to what people are doing, what they are wearing or how many likes they get on a photo of themselves on a Saturday night sitting on the swing at ‘Ollies’, which has manifested the term ‘FOMO’. ‘FOMO’ is simply defined as the ‘Fear of missing out’ or otherwise known as fear of regret.

It can lead to a ‘compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for a social interaction, a novel experience, a profitable investment, or other satisfying events’. It essentially puts a fear in us that we are not spending our time wisely and makes us imagine how different our day would have gone if we had of just said the simple word ‘Yes’. It is alarming how this affects our psychological wellbeing, and can so easily add to a person’s negative mindset and depressed feelings. If we type in the ‘Fear of missing out’ the first thing that comes up is a definition, which was helpful for me as I used it in this blog, but further down there are pages upon pages of psychological websites on how to ‘deal with it’. This is not just some relatable quote a person posted on Instagram to try and get a trend going, it is real for a lot of people whether they realise it or not.

Personally, and although I hate to admit it as I got older my FOMO has only gotten worse, and that applies to my generation as we grew up with social media and it is everything we know. On that note, this vulnerability has subjected us to be an interesting market to target, as marketers are able to tap into the powerful emotional effects that are associated with this fear. On a realistic level regardless of the situation FOMO may affect people differently, whether it’s not being able to make it to dinner with your friends, not seeing the latest movie when it comes out, missing that hyped up holiday, or not attending your weekly/monthly group night out. But for many it is the sense of knowing that all your friends are out ‘living their best lives’ and you missed it due to something coming up or you just didn’t feel like it. Sometimes you may seem to find yourself checking your group chat for updates, snooping at Snapchat stories to see where your drunk friend has passed out next, or going into work the next day to find out any gossip from the night before. Without realising it you have tricked yourself into thinking that what you were doing was boring, and started to imagine how your day would have gone differently.

Whether we like it or not, we always seem to have those people on Instagram who we jump at the chance to view their stories or latest post because they go on 36 holidays a year, never wear the same thing twice, drive a brand-new Audi, have the best hair extensions, Russian lashes, fillers and around 3 different pairs of Alexander McQueen trainers. By looking at these types of people it tricks us into thinking we are not progressing in life and triggers that tiny voice in your head saying, ‘why can’t I have all that’. But if you think about it these types of people are probably so anxiety riddled and obsessed with keeping up their ‘image’ and social media status that their life is not actually so perfect after all and as the saying goes ‘you don’t know what happens behind closed doors’.

Although this topic you could say is quite sensitive, people including myself need to remember that it is not the end of the world, and someone out there could be looking at everything we do and thinking the exact same. It is nice that we don’t all have the same goals, want the same things, or live a certain lifestyle otherwise life would be dull, and moments would never be unexpected. We need to stop focusing on the what ifs and start focusing on the here and now, forget FOMO and remember JOMO (‘acronym for joy of missing out and describes the pleasure of taking a break from social activity- especially social media to enjoy personal time’).

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Chloe Light is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-light-358421172/ and Instagram @Chloe_lightbulb

 

Welcome to Procrastination Station!

If you’re like me and find anything to do other than what you’re supposed to be doing, then welcome aboard my train departing from procrastination station first stop anxiety and on to guilt and self-destruction. I will be your captain for this evening, and I am a 22-year-old recovering procrastinator.

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The very idea of this blog post came to me while I was distracting myself from coming up with an idea to write this very post…ironic I know! From my summer exams first year in secondary school to my final year of university I have always been somewhat of a procrastinator. The very definition of procrastination in the oxford dictionary is “the action of delaying or postponing something.” I will always find an excuse to delay an assignment or revision to the last possible moment. Disclaimer, not a good idea!!

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I always start with good intentions for the day don’t get me wrong. First step setting an alarm and getting up when it goes off which is the first success of the day which I feel I need a reward for so before I can open my laptop, I check all social media accounts. Down the stairs to the kitchen sit down with my still closed laptop but before I start anything I need revision fuel. Time for breakfast which takes longer than it should, stare at the laptop for a few seconds and then remember I need to shower because how could I possibly do any work if I didn’t feel clean. Off to the shower dry my hair, straighten my hair, moisturise maybe paint my nails while I’m here. Look around my not so tidy room and how could I concentrate on my work knowing this mess is here. Time for some spring cleaning after all tidy house tidy mind. (However, this life motto only seems to apply to me when I have a deadline due.) Now finally back downstairs sitting at the kitchen table laptop fully charged notepad open and pencils sharpened. But then I look down to my doggo staring back up at me and it’s such a nice day outside how could I not take him for a walk?? So an hour around the country side taking in the scenery and it really works up your appetite and just in time for my bestie to txt wondering if we should take a break from all the work we haven’t be doing and go out for a coffee, how could I refuse? Before I know it it’s 9 o’clock in the evening and we’re sitting by the fire waiting on I’m A Celebrity to start and there’s no work being done once Ant and Dec come on.

So, you get the idea and forgetting specifics can anyone else relate to a day like this? This added stress is not good for your mental health especially when it’s self-inflicted and can be 100% avoided, so I decided to do some research and come up with a few tips to help. Some of you might be thinking this is just another way of procrastinating to get me out of starting my assignments and some of you would be exactly right but at least if I know what causes it, I might be able to beat it. Here’s what I found:

There are 4 types of procrastinators.

  1. Anxious procrastinators.
  2. Fun procrastinators.
  3. Plenty of time procrastinators.
  4. Perfectionist procrastinators.

Anxious procrastination which is self-torture is when you are doing something but feeling guilty about it. Watching a tv series and not being able to enjoy it because you know you should be doing work but continue to watch anyway.

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Fun procrastination, going out with your friends at the weekend when you have an assignment in for the Monday but you’re young and should be out socialising with your peers, so you somehow always seem to justify it.

Plenty of time procrastination. “Well my exams not for another two weeks if I revise something now, I’ll not remember it come the time so best leave it another few days.”

Perfectionist procrastination is when the thought of not being able to produce the best possible work is to over-whelming to even start at all.

We’ve all fallen into one or more of these brackets and some stage. I know I’ve had experiences of all four but now we know what they are we might be able to overcome them.

Tips for overcoming procrastinating and hopping of the train for good:

  • The 10-minute rule – starting something can be half the battle and once you get over the first hurdle you get the momentum to keep going. The thought of sitting down to hours of work can fill with you with dread, so one way of overcoming it is to not sit down to hours of work. Set yourself a time to only do 10 minutes straight. I find once I’ve got the first 10 minutes done, I get into the swing of things and end up getting much more done than planned.
  • Take regular breaks – if you’re a newly recovering procrastinator this may take some more practise but taking short well-deserved breaks for a cup of tea or a walk can be beneficial in clearing you mind and letting new thoughts and ideas flow to you. Just make sure to return to put these ideas to paper!
  • Get rid of any distractions – social media can be your best or worst enemy but it’s up to you to decide. If you are a constant checker of your phone like me a two-minute break on social media can easily turn into 2 hours. For this I would recommend the app “FLORA”. It is a free app that helps you stay focused by setting timers when you’re supposed to be doing work and it doesn’t let you use any of the other apps on your phone. If you succeed it plants a virtual tree in your garden and after a good days work you can have a lovely plant-filled garden or if you fail a dead sad looking reminder of how easily you can be distracted. I don’t like to lose, and my competitive side comes out and helps me stick to the timer. Also, to help the environment the app gives you the option for a small fee to plant the trees you have in your virtual garden in real life. It’s a win-win, a first class honours in your degree and you save the planet. (Maybe slightly over-exaggerated but a good app none the less.)

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  • Make a schedule: making a timetable of when to do university work and fitting it around your part time job and socialising helps make things more organised. Having social time to look forward to is a good motivator to get your work done in the allocated time. Having a schedule of when your work is due and when to do what makes the workload seem a lot less scary and more doable.

As a recovering procrastinator I found these tips the most helpful for me to help overcome this thing that was keeping me back. On a lot less dramatic note this helps you feel less stressed about final year. It can be hard enough as a final year student so being organised can cut your stress levels by half. If you need me for any more ideas you can reach me on my website lastminute.com

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Mary Keenan is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster university. She can be found on Instagram: mary_keenan20 or Twitter: mary_keenan_.

 

Single or Self-Partnered?

If you don’t know already, I’m single *Shocking*. In fact, I have been for 22 years, that is unless I already met the love of my life still wearing nappies.  

You may be asking yourself; why am I making a big deal out of this? What’s the big deal about being single? Why am I about to overindulge about my love life for my peers and lecturer to see? That last one was just for me.  Well to answer all of this, I’ve always had ambivalent feelings towards what it means to be single. I mean, I think I’m quite the catch (probably statements like that are one of a few reasons as to why I am).  However, there’s a new relationship status in town…

Hermoine Granger aka Emma Watson has recently spoken about her dating life and has now coined the term, ‘Self-Partnered’. As Emma is approaching the big 3-0 she reflected on her relationships over the years in a recent British Vogue interview and the pressure that is put on women to have everything figured out.

Watson is best known for her role as Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter franchise which cemented her status as a child star. Her acting career has now spanned 20 years, yes 20 years! Aside from her being one of the most recognised female actors of our time, she also holds a very impressive portfolio of other work. Watson is an education lover like her Harry Potter character and recently graduated from one the top American Universities, Brown University with a bachelor in English Literature. On top of this, she dabbles in modelling and fashion as well as being a determined activist and humanitarian. At the age of 24, Watson was appointed as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. I mean, suddenly my breakout role as Mary in the P4 Christmas Nativity doesn’t quite have the same feeling of accomplishment to it.

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Emma seems like the full package right? How is she still single? Well, just like us ‘normal’ people, she has experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of dating. As you have probably gauged right about now, we are very similar people…However, were we differ is that I can safely GUARANTEE that I have thee WORST dating history imaginable. I may not be a UN Ambassador, but I am an Ambassador for knowing how NOT to pick them.

I guess you could say that my shambles of a love life is an accomplishment in itself in how much I’ve achieved in the short space of 22 years. What I mean by this is that you couldn’t make the stuff up. I must have a magnetic pull that only attracts absolute WEIRDOS. I can’t even include my dating stories as they are most definitely NSFW. However, I will be producing a movie adaptation in which Emma will be playing the lead, ME.

So, what’s the point I’m trying to make about all of this?

As I mentioned, I’ve had mixed feelings about being ‘single’. I’ve very much felt ‘on-the-shelf’ for years now, heightened by the fact that my closest friends have been or are currently in serious long-term relationships.

As a child, I was bursting at the seams with confidence (Hello, Mary for a reason?) I wish I had’ve bottled some up of it up back then and got drunk on it now instead of drowning my sorrows and being THAT drunk single friend. *Disclaimer: I’m not an alcoholic*

It’s safe to say that my confidence has plummeted since I was a little girl. I look back and wonder where she’s went. Well, she’s been in hiding.

This is because I suffered from harsh bullying at school right up until my second year of University.  I was bullied by different people and as I got older the bullying became much more cruller. During all of this, I was dealing with my own battles which I am still working on today. I’ve been in and out of counselling for years but am now only realising the only person who can help me is me.

Being single was just another character flaw. Something that made me feel like less of a person. Another contributor to not feeling good enough. Therefore, I would actively seek approval and validation from others, in particular guys.  I envied girls who were, ‘living their best (single) life’ while I constantly put myself down for it. Like Emma, “I never believed the whole ‘I’m happy single’ spiel,”

SG11Could be worse I guess…

Having said this, the stigma of being single has lessened over time. As a result of women like Emma Watson who have gone on to say, “It took me a long time, but I’m very happy [being single]. I call it being self-partnered.”

Although many critics have called this a cliché, I can see the appeal of identifying with it. ‘Single’ can at times have the connotations of being ‘lonely’, ‘desperate’ and ‘unlucky’ to name just a few. I’m not afraid to say I experienced all of these and more.

However, according to Urban Dictionary (It’s not in the Oxford one YET),  being ‘Self-Partnered implies you are happy & content with yourself and are not looking for a relationship.’

For me personally, although I may not say “I’M ACTUALLY SELF PARTNERED” out loud when asked about my love life; I will definitely be taking a different viewpoint and stance towards dating and relationships. However, the most important message I’ve gained from all of this, is that I have to fall in love with myself again first *insert RuPaul quote here*.

One last piece of advice…STAY AWAY FROM DATING APPS (TINDER) !!!

SG12Been Self-Partnered since day one        

Susan Greer is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter https://twitter.com/SusanGr15481563, LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-greer-527b79165/ and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sgreer971/

A Former Couch Potatoes’ Guide to the Fitness Influx

I feel like in recent years, the fitness industry has been able to reach many people both online and in circles around me. As someone who dreaded PE at school and just about exercised once a week I wondered if this was due to the fact that our metabolisms all begin to slow so we might not be able to take as much advantage of Dominos ‘Two for Tuesday’ or if there was more to it?

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At the start of my placement year I decided to try a personal training gym that happened to be on the end of the street I had moved to. I booked a consultation and signed up for four weeks with the intention of quitting after because I would probably hate it. Thirteen months on I continue to train three to four times a week and love it.

So, here’s what I’ve learnt.

You can do more than you ever thought you could. I found that I was surprised that I could lift weights that I never would have imagined I could. I will never be the strongest or most athletic person in the gym but that doesn’t matter because you will only get better as time goes on. Exercising teaches you to have a little more self-belief. This then spills over into your everyday life where you challenged yourself a little more, even if it’s just with small things, and you achieve more than you were expecting. I only go for 30 minute sessions so I don’t let myself make the excuse that ‘I don’t have time.’

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Exercising makes you feel good, it’s a fact! It releases endorphins which improve your mood, so even on your worst days just going for a walk helps to clear your head and regather your thoughts. I found this especially helpful when I was stressed during placement or had assignments due. It’s important to remember that sometimes taking a step away from something that you’re working on, even for 20 minutes, can help you look at it from a whole new perspective. In general, exercising helps me to have a more positive outlook on whatever I’m doing.  It’s also nice to be able to take a break from your phone for 30 minutes in the day.

It helps you meet new people. From going to the gym I’ve met so many people I never would have come across in my daily life from a range of different backgrounds. I’ve been trained by people of all ages who are cheering you on to be the best you can be while learning about each other’s lives at the same time.

Nobody is judging you. Some people fear that others are watching you while you exercise, especially if you’re only starting out, but I’ve found that this really isn’t the case. If everyone is working hard, they are generally more focused about what they’re doing rather than what you’re doing.  I have found that it is important to not get caught up with comparing yourself with others, especially online. What I’ve found works for me is following accounts in Instagram that actually inspire me rather than accounts that are simply just skinny girls. Some of my favourites include – @faisalpmafitness who promotes having a positive mental attitude and @whitneyysimmons who tries to see the good in every day along with posting short gym workout videos.

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Even though going to the gym is what I enjoy I understand that it’s not for everyone. You can do anything from going for a walk with friends to ice skating, as long as you’re moving in some way, you’ll feel the benefits of it.

 

Benita Brown is a Final Year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations (CMPR) student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – @benitabrown96 and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/benita-brown-929911194/