Author Archives: Alysia Georgiades

Social media might not be as harmful to wellbeing as originally thought, study suggests

Ever since social media was introduced with the likes of Facebook, Myspace and MSN Messenger, there have been concerns about what it could be doing to our mental health.

Studies have been conducted for years focusing on the effects different platforms have on people’s wellbeing, with most concluding it can be harmful, especially among teenagers.

But a new study conducted by the University of Oxford finds this to be false, concluding that the impact social media has on wellbeing is “trivial”.

The study asked 12,000 10-15 year olds how long they spent on social media a day, and how satisfied they were in different parts of their life. Professor Andrew Przybylski explained to BBC News that “99.75% of a person’s life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social media”.

So why do so many believe it does?

 

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The study investigated teenagers social media habits between 2009 and 2017: image courtesy of Unsplash

WNOL spoke to people about social media to find out if the study’s findings are reflected by the general public.

“It can be really addictive,” says one woman, who uses most platforms on a daily basis.

Another woman believes it can have an impact wellbeing, especially if someone already has an insecurity. “I think it can either bring on mental health issues, or it can escalate them and heighten them. I think any little comment can start something quite serious.”

This coincides with the study, which argued that other investigations into social media haven’t considered teenagers who might use social media more often because they already have mental health problems.

Tobias Dienlin, a media psychologist at the University of Hohenheim who was part of the research team on the study, says he predicted the results.

“If you asked me before the study I would have said, I don’t think we’ll have strong effects, it’s very unlikely. But I can understand people who are reading the news would be surprised.”

WHAT DID THE STUDY FIND_

When asked if social media could be used to improve mental health, one man WNOL spoke to believed the damage had already been done. “I feel like the negative effects are more apparent than the force that’s trying to overcome that,” he explains.

“Everyone should reflect on their social media usage,” Tobias says in response to many people still believing social media harms their wellbeing, but tries to reassure users that they shouldn’t be as concerned as they are.

“We shouldn’t ring the alarm when there’s not really an alarm to be rung”.

He believes that more research needs to be conducted on the same scale as the Oxford study. “The research we are currently doing is still in its infancy, there’s still so many things we can improve”.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

What does the biodiversity crisis really mean?

Earlier this week a UN report was published describing a biodiversity crisis. But what does this mean, and how does it impact the world we live in?

Ella Cohen, a Zoology student at Capel Manor College, helps explain what the new findings mean for the future of the planet, and what needs to be done to prevent important species from extinction.

The report concluded that 1 million species are endangered, highlighting that frogs and other amphibians, corals and marine mammals, and mammals that we often eat, could all be extinct in just a few decades.

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Hundreds of species have been extinct since the 20th century: Infographic created by Luca Staccini

Ella believes primates in Madagascar are a big concern. “The current ecosystem out there is tremendously vulnerable and unbalanced. The amount of tourists travelling to the remote island create an additional strain to the success of populations out there.”

She also says coral reefs and fish populations are also forgotten about, but admits pollinators will have the largest effect on the planet. “They are at the core of reproductive success in the natural world, having a direct impact on society too”.

These endangered species are already having an impact on the environment, but if nothing changes, they will become even more serious. The food chain is a part of our ecosystem that works in balance with thousands of species, but if key plant and animal life become extinct, it will alter the process in detrimental ways.

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The effects of climate change are already evident on coral around the world: image courtesy of Logan Lambert from Unsplash

Take the lynx and the snowshoe hare in Canada. The lynx are predators to the hare, hunting them as a main food source. At the same time, the hare’s peak population can be too much for plant species to cope. The hare’s then become weak as they have lost vegetation to graze on, making it easier for the lynx to catch them.

But the hare’s population decreases so much that there’s no longer enough for the lynx to hunt, whose population also begins to decrease. This then gives the hare’s a chance to breed and increase their population again.

If one of these species were to become endangered or extinct, the delicate system they live in would shift, causing the surrounding environment to change.

“This can have negative effects on our diets, our health with an increased risk of disease, and the whole ecosystem will collapse,” Ella says, saying that it’s important to have a balance between humans and the other species we share the Earth with. “By allowing the ecosystem to sustain itself we can all thrive in existence together”.

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Deforestation is leaving thousands of animals without a home, and reducing biodiversity in the surrounding area: image courtesy of Pexels

We are always told to make small environmentally friendly changes to our lifestyle, but we never know how much our contribution is having.

“We must be mindful of our choices, habits and behaviours. Humans are selfish and it is about time we realise that we are not just living our lives for us now”. Ella believes that our actions don’t go unnoticed, and if we are all more mindful of our diets, we can slowly reverse our actions.

“Things like single-use plastic in the form of straws or containers need to go. And sourcing food as locally as possible and introducing more vegetables into your lifestyle can make all the difference.”

If everyone were to follow this lifestyle, positive effects would begin to occur, but it really does take everyone. Countries around the world need to support each other to replace old, harmful habits, with new methods and ideas, that will bring the planet back to a healthy state.

Featured image courtesy of Pexels

Who will win the Premier League?

After 37 matches, 39 weeks, and a total of 1,042 points won between 20 teams, the 2018/19 season of the Premier League is about to come to an end.

But who will lift the trophy?

Luckily there isn’t a long wait, with the final matches taking place in two days time. But football fans will be paying attention to two teams in particular.

Manchester City are currently at the top of the table, but Liverpool are just one point behind them. All City needs to do is draw or win their game against Brighton & Hove Albion to stay on top, but Liverpool have to win against the Wolverhampton Wanderers to keep their hopes of lifting the trophy for the first time alive.

Neither team have lost any of their last five matches, both being on top form in the final stages of the season. But with Liverpool fresh from their win against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, they might have the momentum needed to win their final match.

WNOL asked football fans in London who they thought would finish at the top, and everyone backed Manchester City.

“I think City will win, I want Liverpool but city are in form”, says North Londoner Alexander.

Charlotte agrees. “City because they’re not going to lose their last game”.

“They have effectively a one-win advantage over Liverpool, and even if Liverpool win at Wolves this weekend I really can’t see City losing or drawing at Brighton” says Birmingham-born Laura.

Jody, from Essex, also thinks the Manchester team have it in the bag “because they are better”.

Meanwhile, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United are all fighting for a place in the top 4 to compete in the Champions League next season.

Both Chelsea and Arsenal are on form after winning their semi-finals on Thursday to form an all-England Europa League final.

Chelsea and Tottenham currently hold third and fourth spot respectively with 71 and 70 points, but with only one point between the two teams, and three points between Tottenham and Arsenal, anything could change by the time the whistle blows on Sunday.

Featured image courtesy of Nathan Rogers from Unsplash

Women in football: there’s still a long way to go

With the women’s FA Cup Final taking place tomorrow aftertoon, and being broadcast by BBC One from Wembley Stadium for the fourth year in a row, it’s clear that female football has come a long way. But with many people still unaware of the match, and not invested in women’s competitions, it seems they’re not quite as equal as their male’s counterparts.

WNOL spoke to the University of Westminster male football captain, Bryan Ijeh, about what needs to be done to improve coverage of women’s football matches.

“I think that footballing authorities have not been giving enough support to the women’s game. The lack of media coverage has made the women’s game less attractive to invest in as a sponsor, which is unlike the men’s game who have huge T.V and media deals in place.”

The BBC cover most of the women’s game, including the FA Cup and the World Cup, which is taking place in France this June.

 

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The women’s FA Cup Final will be held at Wembley Stadium for the fifth year in a row

“If there is a proper effort made to put forth women’s football just as much as it is done with the men’s game it will certainly increase its following. If they are portrayed in the same manner with endorsement deals and publicity, people should automatically take more of an interest” Ijeh says.

More and more female players are becoming household names, such as Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton MBE, who captains Manchester City and is playing in tomorrow afternoon’s final. But they are far from the likes of Kane, Sterling, and Alli, who everyone knows by their surname.

The 2015 women’s World Cup was a big success in putting women’s football on the map, with many Brits watching England’s matches in Canada four years ago. And with a record number of spectators expected to watch the FA Cup Final on Saturday, the interest seems to be on the rise.

“The seeds are being planted and now it is crucial that the footballing authorities and all those involved keep pushing for more equality in the sport”, Ijeh explains.

Star Wars fans and actors pay tribute to Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew

Fans and actors from the Star Wars franchise have been mourning the death of Peter Mayhew, who passed away on 30th April at his home in North Texas surrounded by his family.

 

He played the Wookie in the original trilogy that began in 1977, as well as in episode III, Revenge of the Sith, and The Force Awakens. He didn’t play the role in the latest film, The Last Jedi, but was on set to provide tips and advice to the new actor, Joonas Suatamo.

With ‘May 4th be with you’ celebrating all things Star Wars tomorrow, it’s likely fans will pay their respects to Mayhew, remembering him as everyone’s favourite Wookie. The Jedi Robe Star Wars shop in Northolt, London told WNOL how Peter Mayhew impacted the Star Wars franchise saying “it’s a sad day” for the community.

Many stars including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), JJ Abrams, who directed The Force Awakens and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), have been paying tribute to Mayhew, who his family say “put his heart and sole into the role of Chewbacca”. He is survived by his wife, Angie Mayhew, and their three children.

 

 

 

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Director of The Last Jedi Rian Johnson pays tribute https://twitter.com/rianjohnson

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Suatamo is the new actor portraying Chewie in the latest Star Wars films https://twitter.com/JoonasSuotamo

Women’s FA Cup Final 2019: everything you need to know

With the big match only a day away, here’s everything you need to know so you’re ready for one of the biggest matches of the year.

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Infographic created by Alysia Georgiades

When is it?

The Final kick-off is at 5:30pm on Saturday 4th May.

Where can I watch it?

BBC One are broadcasting the match live from 17:10, but you can also buy tickets for the event here or visit a London pub to catch the game.

What teams are playing?

Manchester City Women are playing against West Ham United Women.

Manchester City Women beat Chelsea Women 1-0 in the semi final in April, whilst West Ham United Women tied 1-1 with Reading Women, but beat the opposition on penalites 4-3.

Manchester City won their first title back in 2017, and are looking to gain their second tomorrow, whilst West Ham United are the underdogs having never appeared in the final. Will they be able to hold their nerve for their maiden trophy?

Where are they playing?

At Wembley Stadium, which has hosted the women’s final since 2015. A record number of spectators are expecting to show their support, after more than 45,000 attend last year’s match.

Who are the captains?

Steph Houghton MBE captains Manchester City, and Gilly Flaherty is heading West Ham United.

Houghton joined Manchester City on January 1st 2014, and was a key player for England’s World Cup qualification, where she also has the role of captain.

Gilly Flaherty has previously played for Arsenal and Chelsea in her career, with her having an important role on the latter’s team, helping them lift the FA Cup trophy in 2015. She was also Chelsea’s vice-captain, and has played for England nine times in four years.

Who are the teams’ managers?

Matt Beard is the manager of West Ham United Women, appointed back in June 2018. The 41 year old has previously managed Liverpool to back-to-back Women’s Super League One titles in 2013 and 2014, and has recently extended his contract with the Hammers for the 2019-20 season.

The manager of Manchester City Women has been Nick Cushing since November 2013. He led them to their FA Cup title in 2017, and has picked up four other titles in two other competitions. He has also helped them reach the Champions League semi-finals two years in a row, whilst his team is also sitting in second place in the Women’s Super League table after losing no matches this season.

Featured image courtesy of maxopt from Pixabay

The science of relaxation: learn to de-stress using your senses

Whether it’s running late for work, revising for exams, or something bigger concerning family or friends, stress occurs on a daily basis for the majority of adults in the UK. But learning how to deal with it is important for mental and physical wellbeing.

 

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One of the most common relaxation methods is visualisation, picturing a scene and focusing on the smallest of details using all of your senses.

But how do you visualise a calming atmosphere when you’re surrounded by office desks, traffic or road works?

Take this opportunity to learn, by listening to different sounds, learning about different scents, and watching different scenes, and discover how to unwind using all your senses.

Sounds

 

A study at the University of Sussex has scientifically proven that nature sounds help us relax, and Jo, a Londoner, agrees. “Just generally being outside is relaxing” she tells WNOL. Orfeu Buxton from Pennsylvania State University explains that when we sleep, we can hear threatening and non-threatening sounds, with water being considered the latter. It tells our brains not to worry, whereas harsher sounds, like alarms and thunder, can be considered threatening, and wake us up.

 

 

Most of the people WNOL spoke to mentioned “birds singing” as a calming sound. A study led by Dr. Daniel Cox found stress, depression and anxiety levels decreased when participants were watching birds. Listen to the clip and see how the bird calls make you feel.

 

 

For many people living in cities, traffic can be a trigger for stress. But compare it to the sound of waves crashing against rocks – it’s surprisingly similar. None of the people WNOL spoke to had ever considered this, but one man did say white noise, like car engines, is soothing, along with the ocean, so this visualisation is likely to help him destress.

 

Scents

 

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Many people rely on lavender to help them fall into a deep sleep (image by Alysia Georgiades)

Lavender is arguably the most popular scent for relaxation, with a range of pillow sprays being sold to improve sleep. But why does it work so well?

One suggestion from Christabel Majendie, a sleep therapist at Naturalmat, is that linalool, a part of lavender oil, acts as a sedative by affecting vital neurotransmitters that help us sleep.

Maybe it’s time to try one of those pillow sprays…

 

 

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There are hundreds of species of jasmine, but they all have a sweet, calming scent (image by Alysia Georgiades)

Jasmine is another scent that has been proven to combat stress, with its subtle, sweet smell helping participants of a study fall into a deeper sleep than if they were exposed to lavender.

A couple of Londoners mentioned jasmine when asked to list calming scents, which could act as an alternative for those who are not a fan of lavender.

 

 

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Pine will remind most people of Chrismas, but its scent is excellent for our mental wellbeing (image by Alysia Georgiades)

Finally, pine (aka Christmas trees) is proven to be a relaxing scent, with its essential oil being found in most health stores. A study from Kyoto University in Japan found that stressed participants who were taken for a 15 minute walk in a forest everyday, were considerably more relaxed afterwards, compared to a group who were not taken for walks. Burning the oil above a candle can fill a room with its aroma, helping you unwind after a long day.

 

Scenes

 

The University of Illinois found that the more trees in a scene, the less stress a person feels. It’s arguably one of the easiest to visualise, with trees scattered all around London, 8 million to be exact, and was a popular response among Londoners, who all said they enjoy watching the branches sway in the breeze.

 

 

For many people, watching a crackling fire can help them wind down, and this no coincidence.

Dr. Christopher Lynn explained to the Telegraph that watching a fire lowered blood pressure and increased relaxation the longer people were exposed to it. When Jo was asked what she thought she explained, “as long as it’s a cold winter’s night and I have a good book it’s relaxing”, which sounds like a pretty perfect moment.

 

 

You’ve already listened to water, but watching it is also proven to lower stress and anxiety levels. Professor Michael Depledge and environmental psychologist Mat White found that showing images of landscapes containing a water feature alongside greenery resulted in positive responses in the participants that significantly lowered stress levels.

The ocean was a popular response from Londoners, who all enjoy staring at the waves moving back and forth. “I like the waves crashing against the shore” said one person, who finds the British seaside and pebbled beaches more calming than ones with sand.

 

So how do you feel?

After watching the videos, listening to the sounds and imagining the different scents, have you been able to visualise the perfect, peaceful environment?

If you have, try picturing it whenever you’re stressed, or need a moment to yourself, focusing on everything from what you can see and hear, to how it makes you feel. Let your muscles grow heavy and your breath soften, and leave all your worries behind.

 

Audio and video recorded by Alysia Georgiades

 

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