Revision Tips for Wellbeing

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An important part of  leading a green lifestyle and taking care of the planet involves taking care of yourself. During the revision period, exam stress affects most people and can make you feel exhausted and anxious. These simple tips give you ideas for small things you can fit into your day to help maintain your wellbeing and reduce your stress during revision…

Get outside

Let’s face it – being cooped up in the library is no fun at all. Take a short walk outside during study breaks to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, helping to focus your mind and get a bit of clarity. If the weather’s nice, study outside in a garden, or schedule a walk along the beach with friends to get away from your laptop screen and give yourself something to look forward to!

If you fancy getting your hands dirty, join Transition for a spot of therapeutic gardening and seed sowing at Andrew Melville Hall on 1st & 15th May from 12.30-2pm.

Gentle exercise

Exercise is one of the best stress busters around! You might feel like you are unable to take much time out from studying over the revision period, but instead of giving up on exercise completely, taking regular breaks that include some exercise will refresh yourself and clear your mind – try a quick walk around the library, or doing some stretches in your room. Depending on what time of day you work best, fit exercise into your study schedule – for example if you work better later on in the day, go to the gym first thing in the morning to wake yourself up and get ready for the day ahead. If you’re still struggling, go with a friend and turn it into an opportunity to catch up!

Yoga is another good option, with YogiSoc running the following classes throughout the revision fortnight:

Monday Meditation – 7.30-8.30pm, The View, donation to charity
Tuesdays – 5-6pm, 136 North St, £2
Thursdays – 3-4pm, 136 North St, £2
Saturdays – 3-4pm, grass at East Sands, free

Get a good night’s sleep

Tiredness can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, and can make you feel overwhelmed. On top of that, when you’re tired your brain won’t be working at it’s best, so aim to get a good 8 hours sleep a night. Ensure you’re getting enough quality rest by winding down in the hour before going to bed – stop checking social media, switch off your laptop, and read a magazine or listen to some calming music to help you drift off.

Eat healthily (& regularly!)

Try not to give in to the temptation of junk food – make sure you maintain a healthy and balanced diet whilst studying to meet all your nutritional needs. Keep healthy snacks like dried fruit and nuts on hand to fuel your brain through revision, and make sure you’re eating regularly to help ease your body into a routine.

Eating healthily needn’t be expensive – Transition will be giving away free fruit and veg from their Edible Campus gardens outside the library on 29th April, so be sure to swing by their VegTable!

Have a hot drink…that isn’t coffee!

Taking a break to have a hot drink can offer some comfort when the going gets tough. While coffee is normally the drink of choice when studying, try to avoid having too much caffeine as this can ‘hype’ you up and make your thinking less clear. Go decaf, or try a hot chocolate or herbal tea instead.

The Fairtrade Steering Group will be giving away 250 free packs of Fairtrade Clipper tea outside the library on Thursday 30th April from 11am.

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Remember to look after yourself, and if you need more help battling exam stress, Student Services have some great resources available online.

Interhall Energy Highlights 2014/15

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This year’s Interhall Energy Competition came to an end at the Hall Champions League Award Ceremony this week. Celebrating the achievements of all the halls across sports, charitable fundraising, and energy saving, it was great to see so many committee members in attendance, fueling some friendly interhall rivalry!

Overall, the combined efforts of all the halls this year has reduced the University’s CO2 emissions by a fantastic 205 tonnes…that’s the weight of 34 male African elephants!

In order to achieve this, the Hall Environment Reps have been doing some fantastic work raising awareness for a range of environmental issues through a variety of activities, including:

  • bike repair workshops
  • maintaining their hall Environment boards
  • Fairtrade bake sales
  • green film screenings
  • food waste collections and composting
  • books/clothes/DVD swap events
  • installing shower timers
  • shopping bag re-use initiatives
  • “bring your own cup” parties
  • seed sowing and gardening
  • Facebook campaigns to encourage recycling
  • …and much, much more!

Each month’s winners also put their prize money to good use, investing in publicity materials for environmental campaigns, equipment for their hall gardens, and funding bike maintenance sessions with the student Bike Pool group.

The Environment Reps have been supported throughout the Interhall Competition by staff from Transition, the Environment Team, the Students’ Association, and Residential Business Services. On top of this, two student interns, Gillian and Bryony, worked to produce a “toolkit” of resources for the reps, and publicised the competition through the Interhall Energy facebook page, which now has a shiny new logo:

10404450_768810933210166_3441283677716847000_nSo, without further ado, here’s the roundup of all the winners of the Interhall Energy Competition 2014/15!

Monthly Winners

October – McIntosh Hall
November – University Hall
December – Andrew Melville Hall
February – Andrew Melville Hall
March – Agnes Blackadder Hall
April – Albany Park

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Semester 1 Overall Winners

1st – Andrew Melville Hall
2nd – McIntosh Hall
3rd – University Hall

Semester 2 Overall Winners

1st – Andrew Melville Hall
2nd – David Russell & Fife Park Apartments
3rd – Deans Court

Hall Champions League Winner

McIntosh Hall

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Congratulations again to all our winners! We can’t wait to meet next year’s group of Environment Reps and see which hall will come out on top!

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Useful links:

Introduction to the Interhall Energy Competition & Hall Champions League

Top Energy Saving Tips

Why join a car club?

Why join a car club_

St Andrews has yet another claim to fame – hosting Scotland’s very first electric car club!

The club will be run by E-Car, with a fleet consisting of 8 Renault ZOEs and 2 Renault Kangoo vans available to pick up from charging locations at the Gateway building, Agnes Blackadder Hall, and David Russell Apartments, with more charging locations in the pipeline.

But what makes joining a car club better than owning your own car?

Convenience & Flexibility

Car clubs increase mobility by offering all members of the community the convenience of a car without the stresses that come with owning one. Hiring a car means there is less to worry about – the hourly fee covers everything including insurance, servicing, cleaning, maintenance, repairs, and recharging. To make journey planning even easier, E-Car’s booking system allows you to book the vehicles at a moment’s notice, or up to 2 months in advance. You don’t even need to collect a key – just wave your membership card over the reader on the windscreen to unlock the car and get going!

Saving money

Using a car club is almost always cheaper than owning, insuring, and maintaining your own car. With E-Car you pay a one-off membership fee of £50, then pay as you go depending on your usage of the vehicles – from £4.50 an hour for the ZOEs, up to £50 a day for the Kangoos. By only paying for the time that you need, you free up your budget to spend on something more exciting!

Lowering carbon emissions

It is estimated that each car club car ultimately replaces 24 privately owned vehicles on UK streets. Not only will this go a long way towards helping tackle St Andrews’ traffic and parking problems, but by replacing the cars with zero-emission electric vehicles, your personal travel carbon footprint will be lowered too.

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Renault ZOE and Renault Kangoo – the two models that make up the 10-car fleet.

So there you have it – with an average range of between 65-90 miles per charge, there’s no excuse not to go and explore Fife and beyond! If you’re travelling further afield,  check out Charge Your Car for a full list of charging points, which will enable you to charge on the go, with rapid charge points reaching 80% charge in just 30 minutes!

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Got more questions? Check out E-Car’s FAQ page.

Image credit: E-Car Club St Andrews, Renault.

Guest Blog: Biodiversity Enhancement at the University of St Andrews

This week’s blog post comes to you from Nic Wells, one of Transition’s interns, as he introduces you to biodiversity at the University of St Andrews…

Biodiversity MapAs part of its sustainability policy, the University of St Andrews has committed itself to reducing its environmental impact through numerous practices, one of which is fostering and increasing biodiversity on its grounds. Under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) 2004 Act, the University is bound to promote biodiversity, and doing this will raise awareness of environmental issues within the university and the local community.

Why is biodiversity so important?

The biodiversity present on the earth make up ecosystems, and these ecosystems provide us with certain services. Some of these ecosystem perks are intangible like water and air purification, and some are concrete and economically useful, like timber production. Conserving biodiversity makes environmental and economic sense, and doing so can also provide aesthetic benefits to communities.

So, what types of biodiversity is the University working to preserve? How is it doing this?

Birds

bluetit

Birds are key ecological actors. Bird species maintain stable insect populations, increase genetic diversity through plant pollination and ensure forest survival through seed dispersal and plant pollination. Additionally, their migratory patterns and feeding habits have been crucial for environmental monitoring of climate change and pollutant levels (BirdLife International, 2015).

For many bird species that have been affected by habitat loss, nestboxes act as substitutes for the holes found in old trees (RSPB, 2014). Nestbox design – hole width and depth – varies according to the species it is intended to attract; for example, a small nest box could attract coal tits or tree sparrows, while an open-fronted nest box would attract robins or spotted flycatchers (British Trust for Ornithology, 2015). The University is in the process of installing small nest boxes, which are designed mainly to attract blue tits, but they will also provide homes for coal tits and great tits.

The University, with the help of a Postgraduate student, is planning to set up around 100 bird boxes throughout University grounds; these will be located in clusters in the arboretum, in the “secret garden” beside the Bute Building, in a space behind the Observatory, and in the Botanic Gardens. Their installation is part of a study that is designed to investigate the vocal communication patterns between blue tits when warning each other about incoming predators.

Bats

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Bats perform important ecological roles. Like birds, they pollinate flowers, disperse plant seeds and control insect populations. However, their contribution to wider ecosystem dynamics is threatened around the world due to losses of suitable habitat.

Bats typically prefer to roost in warm places during the summer and in cooler placers in the winter. During the summer, pregnant female bats form maternity roosts by congregating in a safe place to give birth. If they are disturbed during this period, they may abandon their young (Bat Conservation Trust, 2015). Bat boxes offer additional and alternative resting spaces for bats throughout the year. Like nestboxes, bat box characteristics such as size, location, construction materials and access are crucial to bat inhabitation and survival. For example, placing them close to freshwater, trees and hedgerows provides access to foraging areas (Bat Conservation Trust, 2015).

The University has just recently installed two bat boxes, one at David Russell Apartments and one at the Bute Building.

Wildflowers

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Wildflower species have declined over the decades, mainly due to changes in land-use patterns. Wildflower meadows support higher levels of biodiversity and provide natural services, like pollination, biological pest control and insect conservation, which in turn benefit other fauna such as birds and bees (Haaland et al, 2011). Wildflower strips are relatively easy to establish and maintain. Wildflowers thrive in either seasonally waterlogged soil or areas with low soil fertility (Forestry Commission, 2015). The University is currently running a trial to observe the relationship between greater abundance of wildflowers and insect species levels at Albany Park.

Insects

insecthotel

The primary purpose of insect hotels, also called biodiversity towers, is to provide additional habitat space for small organisms, insects and other invertebrates. Often, the hotels are used during hibernation or breeding periods. They can be built from a variety of natural and/ or repurposed materials. The hotel stacks imitate natural features required by wildlife species like nooks, crannies and rotting tree trunks (Ulster Wildlife Trust). For example, dead wood provides habitat for beetles, centipedes, woodlice and spiders, and materials with holes act as shelter for solitary bees, which are crucial for pollination. The University currently “runs” two hotels: one in the Albany Park garden and one at the BMS (Biomedical Sciences) Building at the North Haugh, and it operates a biodiversity tower in the University Hall garden.

Check out this link to see what nest boxes, bat boxes and insect hotels look like.

Sources
Bat Conservation Trust (2015) ‘Bat roosts’ [online], available: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bat_roosts.html
BirdLife International (2015) ‘We value birds for many reasons’ [online], available: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/introduction/INTRO4
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) (2015) ‘Which birds use next boxes?’ [online], available: http://www.bto.org/about-birds/nnbw/nesting-birds
Forestry Commission (2015) ‘Wildflower meadow habitats’ [online], available: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/urgc-7edjrg
Haaland, C., Naisbit, R.E. and Bersier, L. (2011) ‘Sown wildflower strips for insect conservation: a review’, Insect Conservation and Diversity, 4(1), 60-80.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) (2014) ‘Nestboxes for small birds’ [online], available: http://www.rspb.org.uk/makeahomeforwildlife/advice/helpingbirds/nestboxes/smallbirds/index.aspx
Ulster Wildlife Trust (Year unavailable) ‘Building an Insect Hotel Habitat’ [online], available: http://www.bbcwildlife.org.uk/sites/birmingham.live.wt.precedenthost.co.uk/files/Insect%20Hotel.pdf