What I’ve learnt during lockdown

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by Chanté, BSc(Hons) Occupational Therapy

The gift

About three weeks into lockdown, one of my family members came tumbling down the stairs with what seemed to be a revelation. He sat me down and started rambling as if he’d found the solution to the pandemic – unfortunately, he had not.

He had instead discovered the key to personal growth in a time where I for one felt as though I’d been temporarily stunted. He began with saying that we’ve finally got ‘it’. ‘It’ being time. All we’ve ever asked for – or at least all I’ve ever asked for – is more time. This, however, is a very specific type of time. It’s one where you have minimal distractions and nowhere to go. It’s a time where you can sift through your thoughts (good and bad) and filter through your experiences. It’s a time to learn.

He continued to jabber on about how we have few excuses after this period. The only excuses we’d have are those that we have little control over or the ones we’d made for ourselves. From a very contrasting view, this quarantine period has been a gift. We’ve been gifted time to change the things we can and reflect, learn and adapt from those that we can’t.

“It’s a time where you can sift through your thoughts (good and bad) and filter through your experiences. It’s a time to learn.”

Up until this revelation, I’d been feeling an overwhelming amount of pressure to achieve something during this chapter. I felt as though I’d be a disappointment if I hadn’t written that novel I’ve always wanted to write or if I hadn’t learnt a new instrument. What I have learnt, however, is that achievements don’t only have to be a skill, career or a major award. An achievement can be learning something new about yourself, mending a friendship that had troubles or making the decision to change something that needed changing. It’s often many small achievements that make the biggest difference.

Although I haven’t learnt how to play the saxophone yet or written a single page of that novel, I’ve learnt how to be present. I’ve learnt that through all the chaos, It’s important to remind yourself that it’s okay to just be. It’s healing, its powerful and enriching.

“What I have learnt is that achievements don’t only have to be a skill, career or a major award. An achievement can be learning something new about yourself.”

I’m lucky enough to have spent lockdown in the English countryside surrounded by fields of rapeseed which dons the most beautiful little yellow flowers. As a quarantine ritual, I’d walk into the fields and just sit and surround myself with the yellow. I’d indulge in the smells and sounds of the fields. Although this sounds pointless and like a cheesy romcom scene, I knew I’d achieved something by this practice because I felt at peace.

My quarantine ritual

I felt comfortable with myself and my decisions. I had used the gift of time. I had made those changes. There’s no doubt that there were periods were I was riddled with anxiety but I’d take my time, my deep breaths and process those thoughts. I’d remind myself that my present needs my presence.

I’ll leave it up to you, but as this bizarre phase of our lives is slowly coming to an end, make those changes because maybe my thrilled relative has found the solution to the pandemic after all.

If you need someone to talk to or just need a bit more support, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

How to organise your work and study from home

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by Chloe, BA(Hons) Creative and Professional Writing

Going from a full or part time schedule at university, to completing our deadlines and coursework at home, can be a real struggle, especially when there isn’t a regular routine or timetable.

During my time in lockdown, I’ve thought about what’s worked to keep me motivated. So, whether you want to watch my vlog or read my blog below, here are my top tips on how to manage your workload and study from home.

Time management

It’s important to make your own timetable to keep on top of coursework, deadlines and assignments – this might mean putting aside a set number of hours or shorter sessions to finish a certain task. One method that you can use is a priority list where you write down your ‘top 3 priorities’ for the day. This helps split your day into three parts and gets you to focus on three main goals.

I also give myself bonus tasks – these are a few extra goals that I could get done if I have enough time. These tasks are what they sound like – a BONUS, they are non-essential and it doesn’t matter if they don’t get completed.

One of my priority lists – you can tick these off once you have done them and know you have been productive. Who doesn’t love a satisfying tick!

Find yourself a study space

As well as managing your time it’s also essential you find yourself a study space where you feel comfortable enough to work. Having the right environment when you study can be a contributing factor to your focus levels and overall quality of your work. So try to find somewhere that has minimal distractions, where you can concentrate and be calm.

My study space at home

Take care of yourself

Of course, we have all of this new-found time for studying and dedicating ourselves to our degree but remember to look after yourself. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to work 24/7, be realistic and think about what you would be doing if you were actually in university. This is why priority lists have worked for me, as they split the day up for me.

Remember to take breaks! Taking breaks is actually healthy and allows your brain not to be over-loaded with information or stress – it’s been proven that sometimes shorter bursts of work can be more productive than longer periods of time. On your breaks, try and go outside for a breath of fresh air or stretch out, remembering to follow government guidelines when you do.

Stay connected and reach out if you need help

If you find yourself in the position where you do need some pointers or there are things that you just don’t understand, reach out. There is no harm in asking a question. Message course mates with queries and check your module handbooks, the answers may be there. If you are looking for more support on your deadlines, reach out to your tutors or lecturers via email or blackboard. And if you’re feeling anxious and stressed, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

Even though lockdown is daunting, it won’t last forever. Just try focus on your health and work hard and you will get where you want to be.

To keep up to date on University coronavirus guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

Tips on how to stay happy and healthy during lockdown

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by Jaymee, BA(Hons) Film Studies

Life is a bit strange at the moment. Things have been changing very quickly recently. It’s an adjustment for all of us, but don’t worry if you’re finding this a lot to process. It’s normal to be feeling scared, anxious or apprehensive, as there is a lot going on in the world and it can feel overwhelming.

But all this isn’t necessarily happening for the worst. It’s important that as many people as possible can stay healthy and safe, but there are positives to gain. The most comforting feeling through all this is that we are in it together. Society is gaining a sense of community and togetherness, (the weekly clap for the NHS is so heart-warming) and this is just the start of us seeing the beauty in a very hard time.

Learning how to control fear and anxiety is crucial and it is important to remember that no amount of fear or worry will help or change aspects of the universe that are out of your control. A time like this makes me realise what I took for granted in my life before, and will therefore make me more appreciative of afterwards. And I feel very grateful for having the chance to realise this.

Life for the foreseeable future may be very unusual and uncertain. Nevertheless, these are my tips for staying happy and healthy during lockdown.

Keep some structure and routine to your daily life

For me this starts with a good sleep routine. Whether it’s trying to wake up early to make the most of my day, or pushing myself to go to bed earlier to get a longer, better-quality sleep. I like to start the day with making herbal teas, tidying my flat, doing some yoga and taking time to make a delicious breakfast. I’d also recommend getting dressed every day, even though you won’t be going anywhere! Getting ready in the morning whether that means just getting dressed or putting makeup on, makes me feel more productive and good about myself.

Limit your time on social media and reading the news

The news will more often than not focus on the negatives of what’s going on in the world and it can feel overwhelming. I began to get hooked on reading statistics, yet I found I was a lot happier when I checked the news less. It is still important to be aware of what is going on in the world, but limit yourself to only checking the news as frequently as what works for you, without making you fearful.

Document how you’re feeling

This is a significant global event that we are living through. Writing down your day to day life and keeping some sort of diary of what you have been up to, can do wonders to making you feel a whole lot better. Especially if you are struggling. Find what works for you best, whether it be writing, vlogging or something different. Try different times of the day – I find that writing just before I go to bed really helps me wind down and clear my mind.

Try and focus on the positive things

This crisis is helping me learn new things about life, such as what I took for granted in life before and what I will appreciate more when it’s over. Life is on pause so take this time to reflect and take a step back. Think about where you are in life, what you want in life, what you want to do more of and what you don’t do enough of. Make a plan for when life returns back to ‘normal’.

Learn something new

Learn an instrument. Learn how to do the splits. Learn how to curl your hair or do the perfect eyeliner look. It could be anything! Take this time to do all the things you always wanted to do, but ‘never had the time’ for. I’m learning yoga at the moment which has been great for keeping up my fitness whilst staying indoors and its helping me with mindfulness and meditation. Whatever you do focus on your health and make self care your top priority.

Go for a walk or exercise

No matter what your reason for leaving the house, remember to stay safe and follow the government guidelines. If you can safely enjoy a few minutes outside however, whether it’s to go on a run or a walk then do. Sometimes a bit of fresh air and sunshine can do wonders.

I hope some of these tips and ideas help you to stay happy and healthy in this peculiar time. If you need more support, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

To keep up to date on University guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

Stay safe and take care!

My tips on how to stay healthy during self-isolation

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by Belinda, MSc Marketing Communications

This is an exceptional time with the pandemic and most likely many of us are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or even sad. It can be hard to stay positive and it may be easy to forget to take care of yourself. The anxiety can be especially strong for those students who may be unable to go home or who live alone. So here are my tips on staying both mentally as well as physically healthy during self-isolation.

Stick to your routine

We all had a routine before self-isolating, so try to stick to it by maintaining a good sleep routine and setting tasks to do or goals to reach for each day. Even writing down a structure for each day might be helpful. For me this helps with getting assignments done as well.

Stay connected

Thanks to technology, staying connected to our loved ones is very easy. I used to go for a cup of coffee with my friends every week in Bristol but now we continue our habit from our homes while video calling each other.

Get outside and exercise

According to the government, going outside once a day for exercising is allowed, so use this possibility. Fresh air and movement will give you more energy and help with stress and anxiety. If exercising outside does not sound fun, there are many apps and home work out ideas to try now that gyms are closed.

Maintain a meal routine and have fun

Now is a good opportunity to learn new recipes while maintaining your regular meal routine. I tend to snack a lot when staying at home all day, so eating healthy meals regularly keeps me more energised for the afternoon hours.

Make time for relaxing and self-care

During stressful periods it is important to set some time aside and do something fun, relaxing or treat yourself. Here are some ideas: make a cup of tea and read (not course books), journal, paint, learn a new language or a skill, try meditation and watch a movie. For trying out new things, there are many apps and videos on the internet which is a convenient way to learn something new from the comfort of your home.

In case you still feel anxious and stressed, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

To keep up to date on University guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

And finally, stay safe, stay at home and remember to support one another. We are in this together!

Winter on campus

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by Lydia Cerguera, BA (Hons) Creative and Professional Writing

There is something quite serene about stepping outside into the dark and breathing in the cool air as you leave campus after a long day.

How can we pause the thoughts that run through our minds of tasks to complete, of lessons we’ve learned, of when to fit in work before the next lecture?

Stand still for a moment. Breathe in the night’s sky. Look up for the moon.

Listen out for the birds who have yet to make it home to their nests. Feel the wind pass you before it rustles through the hedgerows. Take stock of your surroundings.

Winter can be a stressful time for students and staff at university. Deadlines need to be met and content has to be delivered. Take the moments in between to enjoy the nature around you and remember that it, too, is letting go of itself; trees are shedding their leaves, flowers are drooping down to their underground bulbs, and the regular rain aids minerals to spread across the land, nurturing the soil in preparation for spring.

If you’re looking for a place of quiet, the pond areas at Frenchay campus provide tranquility, where the fish rest on the pond beds to calm their hearts in the cold.

As well as enjoying our Frenchay campus’ natural comfort, a bus ride to Bower Ashton will take you to the doorstep of Ashton Court Estate, where deer wander freely and a trip through the woodlands to the top of the hill allows for incredible views across the Bristol landscape. Being wheelchair friendly, Ashton Court is a great place to appreciate Bristol’s terrain for everyone.

A ramble along the leafy paths will offer much entertainment as you watch the robins and blue-tits seek out insects.

Have you got a festive feast coming up in the holidays? Now is the time to take advantage of our Frenchay herb gardens! There are spots in the Walled Garden, and outside K Block and R2 Block, with labelled herbs available for all staff and students to pick and take home to cook with. Some rosemary and parsley with your roast potatoes, perhaps?

If you are finding the last week of lectures hard, then why not bring some nature back indoors with you to craft with in the evenings? You could collect fir cones, dry them on the radiator, paint their tips and dangle them on your bedroom wall with string. Or gather some fallen twigs, dry them out, and glue them into star/tree shapes as decorations.

An effective addition for your room at university would be to paint small stones you’ve found outside – either by creating the patterns yourself or by picking up leaves on your walk, drying them, painting them and printing them onto each stone. Not only is it free (you can ask for some paint at the Resource Centre), but crafting will help to soothe your worries during this busy time. Placing the stones in a dish or along a bookshelf in your room will make for a lovely feature.

There are plenty of ideas to find on Pinterest and other crafty sites, but make sure you only pick up natural items that have fallen – nothing still attached to trees as they are still vital to the network of our wildlife!

Wherever you are during the next few weeks, I would like to wish you a happy and well-rested holiday.

And don’t forget, there is always time to breathe in the night’s sky and stand still for a moment.

Top tips on how to engage with your course

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by Ethan, LLB(Hons) Law

Engaging with your course is about more than just making sure you attend lectures and complete course work (although it does play a part), its also about interaction with others and having the the right mindset to do it for yourself. In my first year I found that the more you put in, the more you get out, whether that is socially or on an educational basis.

Engaging with your environment is so important when wanting to benefit fully from university, however it isn’t easy for everyone to just throw themselves into, which was definitely something I struggled with at the beginning. Hopefully this will tell you how I did it and show you how you can too.

Engaging with your environment is so important when wanting to benefit fully from university

Firstly, the more groups you form and surround yourself with, the easier you’ll find it. A way that I went about approaching this and that went great for me was connecting to people through societies related to my course. These societies perfectly pair both social and educational engagement in a very fun way. This also goes for other groups you can take part in. For me it has been pro-bono groups in law, that allowed me to do actual legal work, connecting me with people from inside and outside the university whilst having a great focus on my legal degree. Groups will also get you involved in web pages and group chats that can also be a great help. I also applied to be a student ambassador which is a really great way to not only get work but also allowed me to form relationships with people who were like minded.

When I first moved to this university I knew very few students and all my flat mates were on a different course. This made lectures quite daunting as I would attend alone and knew no one and it made me less engaged with my course and the university as a whole. However purely just by attending frequently and sitting in the same place you meet others around you who are also doing the very same, making that daunting environment a comforting one. This also gets you into a mental routine which allows you to be more rigid with yourself, so you don’t begin to fall into the downward spiral of not attending lectures and workshops.

There are many ways that will allow you to engage at university, it’s just down to you to take those opportunities.

I discovered that the more you engage with others around you the more comfortable they will feel talking to you and this is something that you can benefit from. For example, when I was first set coursework I went away and worked without discussion and kept my thoughts to myself. My work came back okay but it turned out it had been similar to the others and did not stand out. However, when the next set of coursework came around, I made use of the social connections I had established with my peers and discussed the topic with them. This allowed us to cover areas through in-depth discussion that we might not have otherwise had and corrected one another when we were wrong. This significantly improved our coursework.

It’s my opinion that commitment is key to engaging as well. Commitment opened the door for me to be able to consistently be in the loop, preventing myself from isolation and becoming unfamiliar with my work and those around me. I find it difficult to be able to learn and work to my full potential when other things are on my mind and so feeling settled and comfortable in lectures has helped me focus more on my studies.

My main message is that there are many ways and opportunities that will allow you to engage with your course, it’s just down to you to take those opportunities. Hopefully this has shown you just how easy such opportunities can come about and how you can make the most from them and how you will benefit as a result.

Find out more about how to engage with your course and why it’s so important.