Friday, 13 December 2013

Tips for a Happy and Healthy Christmas Season

Holiday drinks, a lack of exercise, day after day of eating too much of the wrong foods, and the combination of excitement and stress also upset even the best intentions for a happy and healthy Christmas. Here are a few tips to keep your season merry:
1.    Don’t assume that everyone else’s holidays are perfect.
2.    Tensions are bound to happen. People’s lives are disrupted at Christmas, and it’s easy to get tired and emotional, especially when alcohol is involved. We are often required to be with people we don’t really wish to be with. Try to be more flexible and understanding, or, if that’s not possible, just avoid any situations that are likely to lead to conflict. 
3.    Don’t spend more than you can afford. It will only make you feel worse afterwards.
4.    Most of us will overeat at Christmas, so it’s even more important to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This will also help to keep the stress at bay.
5.    Even holiday food can fit into a healthy eating plan. The key is balance and moderation. Emphasise fruits and vegetables, and avoid that third helping of trifle that you know will just make you feel sick.
6.    Remember to chew your food slowly and thoroughly. Chewing is essential for the digestive process and can help prevent bloating, wind and indigestion. Chewing thoroughly also reduces the likelihood of overeating as it allows the brain the register when you are full.
7.    Take a walk after Christmas dinner. You’ll feel a lot better than if you collapse on the sofa, and it’s better for your digestion.
8.    Check your fire alarms.
9.    Wash your hands often, scrubbing thoroughly for 10-15 seconds, to prevent the spread of infections.
10.                       Make a New Year’s resolution to (pick at least one):
quit smoking, cut down on alcohol, be more active, eat more fruit and vegetables, cut down on salt, practice meditation or relaxation, learn a new skill, spend less time watching television, spend more time with loved ones, get a check-up, have your teeth cleaned, be happy!

 (if you want help with any of these, contact Cindy Dring, Health Promotion Officer, at ext. 2048 or email

And the winner of the Google Nexus 7 tablet is...

Everyone who completed the e-PUB between in October and November was put into a draw for a fantastic array of prizes. The winners have now been chosen just in time for Xmas.

The winners are:

1st prize Google Nexus 7 tablet – Zack Bryant

2nd prize Dinner for 2 in Rouge – Daragh Keane

3rd prize One hour massage – Terence O’Reilly

4th prize 20€ Print That voucher (3 prizes) – Kealan Moore, Nikki Black & Rebecca Carey.

There will be plenty more prizes and competitions next semester –Keep up to date by following riskybizzness on twitter and facebook

And if you are curious about hope any cheeseburgers you drank last month check out the E-pub. Click here to start.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Xmas Shopping! Is it good or bad for you?

With the festive season on us there is a lot more head scratching going on about the good and the bad aspects of shopping.  In a recent interview with Medscape consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, noted that on the plus side shopping gets us out and interacting with other people, but it also can leave the consumer stressed and when they get home wondering why they bought what they bought. The problem is that retailers know how to affect the decision making of consumers.

‘They use smells,’ Explained Kit Yarrow. ‘They use music. They know that when people touch things, they’re more likely to buy them... They know all these things.’ Kits recommends that consumers ‘wait 20 minutes until their body relaxes and their mind can start taking over again before they make a purchase.’ For more on this check out the full interview on Medscape
Being suspicious about the whole consumer thing should not however make us blind to the benefits of giving gifts. We just have to remember we don’t need to buy big and flashy or even new. Some of the best presents I’ve given and received have been homemade or bought in charity shops. The favourite book of my children is an autographed copy of Roald Dahl’s ‘Danny the Champion of the World’ which was bought for thirty cents in a charity shop.

The simple and scientific fact is that giving gifts is good for you. In a recent article in the online version of Berkley University’s Greater Good Science Centre, Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie listed the five main benefits as:
1. Giving makes us feel happy. 
2. Giving is good for our health.
3. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection.
4. Giving evokes gratitude
5. Giving is contagious.

Check out the article 5 ways giving is good for you for full details including facts, figures and youtube clips. You’ll never want to be a scrooge again. 

Of course if you are looking for something to buy, feel free to check out my books - there's still some signed copies in Dubray Books in Galway and Rare & Recent Books in Cong. Enjoy!

Related article: True Confessions of a shopping mall Santa

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Clutha Vaults thoughts and recollections

Sometimes we simply cannot go through the day with a smile and skip in our step. Some days sorrow and confusion can threaten to overwhelm us. I am having one of those days - or more accurately one of those weeks.

The Cluatha Vaults played a large part in my development as an artist and thinker. It was there I stood up on many a night to perform in front of an audience, along with other poets, singers, musicians, ranters and what not. One of those poets died eight years ago and the wound has not yet healed. Over the weekend news came that another was sitting in the bar on friday when the helicopter fell through the roof of the bar. Old griefs were awoken by new fears.

I’ve been distracted since Friday night. Saturday passed in a strange surreal way. It was my son’s sixth birthday. Lots of children, lots of laughter, noise and occasional tantrums from over excited weans. In the evening I checked in with friends on facebook, shared thoughts and fears. I watched the movie Rushmore; and managed to wind down.

Sunday, I made the point of not watching or reading the news. I hung out with the family tried to have fun and relax, but suddenly I would find myself distracted. I would feel an awful sense of angry dislocation. Or else memories would burst into my head, images and sights and sounds of lang gane events and peoples

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was determined to be a poet – well being the man I was (and am) I should say that I was determined to be the greatest poet. One of the most important things in my development as a writer was joining the Castlemilk Writers Workshop. Among those who welcomed me and helped me take the first steps towards being the writer I am now was the poet John McGarrigle. Tuesday morning the news confirmed what we had all dreaded. John was named as one of those who died in the Clutha.

I’m lucky that I’m based on the campus of NUI Galway. The place is filled with support services, if needed, not least  Health Promotion office but also the Chaplains and Counsellors  But for the moment I’m doing fine by myself. I’ve lightened my workload and allowed myself space to think or not think; I chat with friends or not, depending on how the mood takes me. 

I make occasional phone calls or internet chats back home and hear the same thing from friends and family; Glasgow - that great bustling, gallus, brash city - is a sombre place right now. 

I keep my journal close at hand; jotting down passing thoughts helps keep me grounded. I choose to lose myself in fun stuff; playing with my children, listening to music. I don’t brood or pick at the events of the last week, but neither do I block it out. I just let it settle in its own way and remind myself that some days its okay not to be okay.