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  • Tue 15 Apr 2014 10:00

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    This is obviously not me.

    Now that Summer term is approaching and some of our budgets are wearing thin, it’s probably a good time to start thinking a bit more closely about budgeting to get through the rest of the academic year. I’ve done a bit of searching for you with help from MoneySavingExpert and my own experience, so here’s a quick list of tips to consider if you’ll be trying to watch how much you spend within the next few months.

    1. Get student discount cards

    I’ve mentioned this a few times in past posts, but they are actually incredibly helpful to have, and you’ll find yourself saving quite a bit of money. Plus, you won’t be a student forever- so take advantage now. You can get everything from travel discounts (which are always wonderful) to discounts on stuff like Pizza Express and Apple products. These cards include the NUS extra card, the 16-25 railcard, and more. Check out my last post on the best benefits of the NUS extra card for more info.

    2. Make a budget

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    I’m a big list writer. If I have a ton of things to do, or something to remember, I always write it down. This can be a helpful thing to do if you’re not particularly good at budgeting. Setting aside certain amounts of money for different activities and necessities will help you get serious about using money wisely. You might be surprised at how much money you’re spending at pubs when you actually add it all up. I recommend making a reasonable budget that includes plenty of money for food, accommodation, and travel, and a bit on the side for social events. Everyone’s budget will differ, but always make sure the most important things come first. Here’s a budgeting calculator I came across to help you create a simple budget plan. 

    3. Cook at home

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    My hall is amazing, but it’s a bit hard to cook lots of fresh food when the fridge is always quite full and the kitchen is often in use. As much as I’d like to cook every day, I find that’s not really an option in my current living situation, and that’s probably the same for a lot of you. It’s hard to resist the temptation to go out to eat, but it’s much, much better for your wallet and your health if you limit your spending on take away. There is often a big selection of ready meals at local grocery stores, and grabbing a bag of lettuce, some salad dressing, and a few vegetables isn’t too pricey if you get the sale items. You’ll find yourself saving a lot of money.

    4. Take the bus

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    This is a really simple one, and it might not be the most convenient or feasible option for you, but it’s undeniably cheaper than the tube if you don’t need to transfer. I always take the bus, because even if it takes a little longer, it’s worth the minor inconvenience. Plus, the tube gets overcrowded and is honestly really boring, while the bus offers a great view of the city. Taking the bus has actually gotten me a lot more familiar with my area, and I have a much better idea of where everything is now. So there are benefits!

    5. Consider part-time employment

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    It might seem late in the year, but it’s definitely worth checking out what job opportunities are currently available, especially if you’ll be here throughout the summer. As an American, getting a job in the UK drastically reduced the pain of the exchange rate between the dollar and the pound, and if your home currency isn’t as strong, you’ll probably feel a lot better about it, too. Plus, it’s a great way to make sure you get out of your room once in a while- and there are not many things as awesome as getting a paycheck when you’re low on cash. 

    For more information, here are a few additional resources for money saving advice:

    Student checklist (MoneySavingExpert)

    StudentCalculator.org

    Budgeting (UCAS)

    How Can I Manage My Money Better? (NUS)

  • Tue 15 Apr 2014 07:00

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    When was the last time you drank? (Water, not vodka; calm down peeps) Little do most of us know, water plays an integral role in maintaining our daily body functions; and hydration is a crucial criteria for survival. Let’s look at some of the benefits you can get by keeping yourself hydrated.

    1) A Healthier Heart

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    Heart attack / heart related complications remain the number one cause of death in the world (Source: WHO. I did my research! Hehe). One study in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that drinking more water is associated with a decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease, whereas drinking liquids other than water actually increased the chances of the disease. 

    I personally think that drinking other liquids shouldn’t contribute too much towards heart disease, as long as it’s not too sweet (fruit juice or something), but oh well, who am I to refute the American Journal of Epidemiology.

    2) Brain Boost!

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    According to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, drinking water when you feel thirsty can help you think and act. The participants who drank water before performing a series of cognitive tasks reacted faster than those who did not.

    "If the slower reaction times translated into real world performance, it could mean that people are generally a little slower at performing tasks," says Dr. Caroline Edmonds, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of East London, who was involved in the study.

    Do drink up before facing your upcoming exams!

    3) Pick-me-up

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    Feeling irritable frequently? Drink more water. Lack of sleep isn’t the only reason you get headaches and surges of irritability - lack of water does that too. When your body is low on water, blood vessels will dilate, causing swelling and worsening the feeling of a headache.

    If you’re experiencing dizziness, this is a sign of dehydration. You should drink small amounts of water slowly over time, and watch as your mood improve!

    4) Appetite Control & Gut Health

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    It’s late at night, and your stomach growls.

    Before reaching for that big bag of Doritos lying temptingly on your foodshelf, try drinking some water first. In many cases, your body isn’t exactly hungry, but thirsty instead. 

    Water may not magically help you lose weight overnight, but substituting higher calorie drinks for water will reduce a large amount of calorie intake. Also, in order to burn calories, an adequate amount of water is needed. Staying hydrated will also keep things in your intestinal tracts flowing, and also keep constipation at bay.

    5) Maintaining Balance of Body Fluids

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    Our body loses a lot of fluid through increased sweating on hot days or after exercising; the imminent lack of fluid leads to dehydration symptoms like headache, fatigue, confusion, and even heat stroke. A lack of water can even affect our organ functions, which, well.. isn’t really good.

    Track your drinking history with several apps available on your phones/tablets! A quick google search will lead you to several apps like WaterLogged, or a cute app called Plant Nanny

    Bottoms up, fellas!

  • Sun 13 Apr 2014 13:01

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    In a high-stress environment like LSE, you’ve probably had people tell you to relax on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, as we all know, it’s really not that easy to “just relax.” Here are a few tips (adapted from this article) to help you calm down now that it’s revision season:

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    Take deep breaths. Take very deep breaths in through your nose, and then breath out through your mouth. The NHS suggests counting to five on each breath, and that’s probably a guideline to follow. Doing this three to five times a day is quite helpful- I’ve just started to try it, so we’ll see how it goes. 

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    Get comfortable. If you’re at home, wear comfortable clothes and try and sit in a position that isn’t rigid or unpleasant. I know that I tend to get too comfortable to get work done when I’m in my room, but that’s exactly the kind of thing you need when you’re purposefully trying to relax. 

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    Try some stretches. I’m just going to quote the NHS article I’m using for this post, because paraphrasing wouldn’t work too well in this case. The following is directly from Relaxation tips to relieve stress, the piece I am basing this entire post on:

    Face: push the eyebrows together, as though frowning, then release. 
    Neck: gently tilt the head forwards, pushing chin down towards chest, then slowly lift again. 
    Shoulders: pull them up towards the ears (shrug), then relax them down towards the feet. 
    Chest: breathe slowly and deeply into the diaphragm (below your bottom rib) so that you’re using the whole of the lungs. Then breathe slowly out, allowing the belly to deflate as all the air is exhaled. 
    Arms: stretch the arms away from the body, reach, then relax. 
    Legs: push the toes away from the body, then pull them towards body, then relax. 
    Wrists and hands: stretch the wrist by pulling the hand up towards you, and stretch out the fingers and thumbs, then relax.

    Happy relaxing!

    #LSEWellbeing