How to look after your wellbeing during the festive period

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by the Feel Good Team

Despite the endless glitzy adverts showing everybody enjoying the festive season, this often isn’t the case for many of us. Whilst it can be a great occasion for joy and spending time with loved ones, it can also be stressful, emotional and lonely.

Here are some of our top tips on how to look after your wellbeing during the festive period.

Talk about your feelings

It can seem difficult to admit that you’re not feeling great, when you feel like everybody else is enjoying such the festive time of year, but talking about your feelings can be really therapeutic, and help you to manage them. You might also realise that your friends and family members have experienced similar feelings.

Sometimes keeping a journal, or writing things down, can help if you are feeling anxious. Try and make time to speak to somebody you trust about how you are feeling.

Do a random act of kindness

If you feel a bit daunted by the idea of volunteering, then why not start by doing a few random acts of kindness over the holidays? Christmas can be lonely for many people but a small act of kindness might make it that little bit easier. You could send a letter to elderly relative or neighbour or if you know a friend is feeling lonely you could organise to watch a Christmas film together via a video call.

Check out our recent blog article on random acts of kindness for more ideas!

Keep active

Light exercise is a brilliant tool for lifting your mood, especially when you might have been stuck at home for most of the day and can take your mind off any festive stress, and it’s free! It’s also a good counterbalance if you are enjoying some festive food over the holidays. It doesn’t mean hours of sweating, but a bracing winter walk or a short body-weight workout at home can get those endorphins pumping.

If you’re stuck for what to do, the Centre for Sport have organised a Movement Advent Calendar, designed to get you moving every day in December. Updates will be posted on their Instagram.

Enjoy the small things and practice mindfulness

Focusing on what you’re grateful for, and the small things that can brighten up your day, can help refocus your mind to think positively, and take your mind off stress. You could perhaps think of 3 things you are grateful for every day, take 10 minutes to practice a short meditation on the free Headspace app, or take the time to do something small for your own wellbeing every day.

Activities like making a festive craft, watching an old favourite movie, or taking a relaxing bath, are all great ways to self-care that can all contribute to you feeling good over the festive period. Mindfulness is a great way to unwind and clear the mind, check out Bemindful, the Headspace app, or the Calm app.

Remember there are always people there to help you

If you are struggling and you feel like you can’t cope, then it is important to speak to somebody. Visit our wellbeing support options for more information on the support available to you through the University.

Feel Good festive countdown

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by the Feel Good Team

The Feel Good festive countdown has been created for you to enjoy the countdown to the Christmas break virtually, with friends and coursemates.

Many of you might have felt anxious and isolated during lockdown, due to spending more time at home and not being able to get involved in our regular social activities, so this year, self-care and finding ways to connect is more important than ever.

That’s why we’ve put together some virtual events to help you connect with others and look after your own wellbeing in the lead up to Christmas and during the festive period. Whether you are heading home for the Christmas break or are staying on campus, there are plenty of activities to get involved with. Some will be hosted by The Students’ Union, and others by the University.

Here are just a few of the events you can take part in:

Movement advent calendar

Want to get active in December? Check out the Centre for Sport Instagram for a new activity every day.

Global Cafe: Celebrate Christmas in the UK as an international student

In this Global Cafe session, we’ll be discussing how we’ve all managed from September to Christmas and what we hope for in 2021. Come and join us for a friendly chat whilst meeting new people.

Throughout December the Global Cafe will be hosting a number of events for international students who might be celebrating Christmas in the UK.

Christmas Day lunch

If you’re staying on campus over the break but don’t want to miss out on Christmas lunch, book to have your festive meal in Onezone. Due to COVID restrictions, there will be a limited number of spaces for Christmas Lunch – 30 people per sitting, over four sittings between 12.00– 13.00.

Let’s Get Quizzical

Join The Students’ Union for their last Let’s Get Quizzical of 2020! Details of whether the event will be hosted at the SU or online will be announced soon.

New Years Netflix night

Join us on Saturday 2 January for a New Years Netflix party! Just download teleparty and look out for the party link on the event page closer to the time.

For information on service closures over the Christmas break, visit our Christmas closure webpage.

Complete our Mental Wealth Strategy survey

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The Mental Wealth Strategy was our sector-leading approach to putting mental wealth first. It ran from April 2018 to August 2020 and if you studied with us for some or all of this time, now is your chance to share your views and be entered into a prize draw to win one of ten £50 Amazon Vouchers.

In relation to mental health, the survey seeks to understand the culture at UWE Bristol along with the extent to which you engaged with mental wealth communications, activities and interventions. Even if you didn’t engage with mental wealth initiatives, your views are still important.

Your responses will remain anonymous and will help to influence the development of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2030.

Complete the survey online by Sunday 13 December.

Team Coach: what is it and what’s in it for me?

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Spotted Team Coach in your timetable? That’s because your programme has been selected to take part in a new initiative as part of our commitment to your self-development.

What is it?

In sport, the role of a coach is to support the people participating, reach their full potential. And when it comes to academic coaching it’s just the same!

During Block Zero you were assigned to a coaching group in Microsoft Teams, consisting of around ten other students from your course. Since the start of Teaching Block 1, you’ve been timetabled to meet up every two weeks, along with other groups of students from your programme, and one or two coaches, who are members of staff.

The sessions are facilitated by your coach(es) and based on UWE Bristol’s five secrets to success. During the sessions you’ll watch a video together and complete activities related to the week’s theme (for example: ‘Visualise your future’).

What are the benefits of Team Coach?

We trust Team Coach will:

  • Inspire you to engage in student life in all its forms
  • Empower you to make the most of the many opportunities here
  • Provide space for you to share and reflect upon your experiences
  • Increase your confidence
  • Reduce any isolation you may be feeling due to the coronavirus pandemic
  • Help you graduate successfully

By working together, you’ll be able to build on what you learnt in Block Zero and support each other to seek solutions to any issues you might be experiencing, especially in light of the pandemic.

We want you to succeed in every area of university life and hope you enjoy working with your coaching group!


How to keep moving in self-isolation

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As humans, we are not designed to sit or lay down all day, and in fact, studies have shown that a sedentary life (too much time sitting or lying) can be the trigger for physical health problems, and mental health problems too. However, at the moment, for those of us that may be self-isolating in small student flats, staying active can be far from easy, and may not even feel that appealing to you.

Have you found yourself spending most of your time in bed, or slumped on the sofa, hunching over your laptop? Trust me, we get it. It can be incredibly difficult to stay motivated and moving when you are staring at the same four walls.

Luckily though, there are actually plenty of ways you can add movement into your day, that you may not have considered before. With just a little bit of effort, you can see big differences in how you are feeling, both physically and mentally.

Physical activity is much more than just high intensity workouts, lifting heavy weights or bending into all sorts of strange positions. Scientifically speaking, regular movement of the body (in whichever form you choose) is one of the key ingredients to a healthy body and mind. Moving our bodies releases ‘feel good’ chemicals within the brain to help us do just that – FEEL GOOD! It can boost our self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing our risk of stress and depression.

What does this mean?

Essentially, what this means is, as long as you are doing around 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day (anything that raises your heart rate, such as taking a walk, riding a bike or playing active games with your flatmates), reducing the amount that you are sedentary (sitting or lying), and doing strengthening exercises at least twice per week (following a body weight exercise class, or taking the bins out), you are meeting the guidelines set by the NHS.

Do what’s right for you!

You do not need to push yourself to complete crazy workouts every day. Activities like getting outside in the fresh air for even 10 minutes can be amazing for your physical as well as your mental health, and I would highly recommend it, if you can. But even if you can’t do that, just focusing on trying to move, or finding time to focus on doing something to help you feel good can work wonders to support your health and your wellbeing.

Five ways to stay active whilst self isolating:

Make a routine and stick to it

You may not be able to stick to your normal routine, but you can create a new one which includes alternative ways to stay active. As tempting as it may be to stay in bed all day, in the long run this is bound to make you feel much worse.

So keep your alarm set for a normal time and do what you would normally do in the morning like have a shower and a good breakfast. And if you can get your body moving in the morning, even better!

Set yourself reminders to take regular breaks throughout the day and MOVE. You can find lots of ideas on the @UWEBristolSport Instagram and other social media pages.

Join a virtual exercise class

Throughout lockdown, hundreds of online exercise classes have emerged to help you keep active whilst spending more time at home. UWE Bristol Sport are delivering FREE live workout classes. Click here for a full list of classes available to you.

Never tried one of our exercise classes before? Well now is the perfect time to give them a go from the comfort of your own home!

Sport England have also collated lots of resources from around the UK to help you stay active and Join the Movement.

Maintain your hobbies or start a new one

Just as it is important to keep your body active, it’s important to keep your brain active too! Learning something new, or maintaining an activity that challenges your mind is a great way to keep your brain healthy and one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Get creative with your friends, family or housemates

Fancy getting your housemates involved in your new hobby? Why not video call a friend whilst completing the same virtual workout? Or show your family your new skill during a family video call?

Staying connected in any way that you can is another important way to look after your wellbeing. Plus, if you can teach someone else a new skill, you could be helping them support their wellbeing too – bonus!

Complete the household chores you’ve been putting off

This one is probably quite self-explanatory. Is it time to do the washing up after all that baking?

Visit our how to stay well in self-isolation page for more ideas on how to keep learning, keep well, keep connecting and of course, keep active!

Kindness is key

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by the Feel Good Team

Moving away from home to University can be a daunting time, especially at the moment. And whilst you might be really excited, some new students might be struggling with nerves and worries.

Here we really care about your wellbeing and happiness – and it starts with all of us being nice and looking out for each other. And with it being World Kindness Day what better time to share some little acts of kindness which might make a difference to someone’s day!

And whilst we know that the pandemic has restricted how we can interact with each other and limited how much contact you can have with another person, there are still lots of ways you can be kind to others.

Why not try out some of these random acts of kindness?

  • Organise a virtual catch up or phone call with a friend or family member, especially if you think they are lonely or are self-isolating.
  • If you’ve got a course mate who’s a bit quieter than everyone else, reach out to them. It costs nothing to say ‘hi’ or give them a wave if you’re on campus– you could be the first person who’s been friendly to them.
  • Make a cup of tea for one of your flatmates.
  • If you see somebody looking lost on campus, ask them where they’re going. You might not be able to direct them, but you can always see if you’re headed to the same place.
  • Reach out to a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • If a friend is having to self-isolate, arrange to watch a film or TV programme with them at the same time and video call.
  • Tell someone you know, why you are thankful for them.

And most importantly remember that everyone is going through a difficult time at the moment, so have patience with other people and be kind to yourself as well!

Want to know more about Feel Good? Check out our webpage!

What happens when I contact the Covid Support Team?

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by the Covid Support Team

We’re keen to speak to all students who are self-isolating so that we can understand how best to support you – you don’t have to have symptoms to get in touch.

You can get in touch with us by phone on 0117 32 87000 from 09:00 to 19:00 everyday, or you can report your symptoms online and a member of the team will contact you.

What happens if I phone up?

When you first speak to us, we’ll ask you for a few details about yourself including your programme of study, if you have symptoms and if you’ve recently had a test – if you haven’t, we’ll help you book one.

Following this, we’ll ask how we can best support you through your self-isolation and what we can do to help you. This could be supporting you to get access to food and medication, arranging for academic support if you’re worried about falling behind on your studies or signing you up to a wellbeing check-in call to make sure you’re coping.

We’ll need a few more details to ensure an appropriate responses, including:

• how well social distancing has been observed.
• where you have been on campus prior to the onset of symptoms.
• whether there is a clear connection to a confirmed case.
• whether there is an obvious location where social distancing was inadequate and could represent the source of the infection.
• where you live, and whether you are on placement.

This is to help manage the spread within the University setting, and will help us identify clusters of cases, as well as allowing us to ensure that areas can be deep cleaned.

What happens next?

The University will engage with Public Health England and the relevant local authority to identify any specific actions necessary.

If asked, we’ll share contact tracing information with NHS Test and Trace. This normally happens when an individual identifies a potential lapse in 2m social distancing within teaching and communal spaces and NHS Test and Trace need to notify others.

What if I said I need support?

When you first speak to us, you’re helping us manage coronavirus on campus, but you’re also registering your interest in receiving some support. We’ll discuss your individual needs and help you access the support you need.

Accessing food and supplies

Food delivery slots are still available from local supermarkets.

If you live on campus, please make sure you email the confirmation of your booked slot to catering.services@uwe.ac.uk so we know when to expect your delivery.

Let us know if you are struggling to get a delivery slot and we’ll help you get the supplies you need.

Support calls

If you requested a wellbeing check-in, you’ll get a call from us on Mondays and Thursdays to check that you are managing and have everything you need.

These calls are from a ‘withheld’ or ‘no caller ID’ numbers – so make sure you answer!

Academic support

Your programme should be available to engage with online but if it’s not, please let your module leader know.

If you need study support or you’re having trouble accessing your teaching, let us know. You can also contact an Information Point.

Let us know what you thought about Block Zero!

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Block Zero was designed to make sure you were ready for the academic year. We wanted to work closely with you to build up your skills and knowledge so that you were ready to hit the ground running when your programme teaching resumed.


We’re conducting a short survey for all students who took part in some or all of the elements of Block Zero to find out what you thought about it, and the start of year.

The survey asks about your experience, and should take less than 10 minutes complete.

Complete the survey online by Friday 20 November to let us know what you thought, and for your chance of winning one of two MiniRig speakers, or one of four £50 Amazon gift vouchers!

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)

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by Jo Lewis, PAL Manager

You’ll probably notice something called ‘PAL’ on your timetable, or maybe you heard about it during Block Zero.

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is a student-to-student support scheme which helps you with your transition to university, in particular:

  • engaging with your course
  • connecting with your peers
  • increasing your academic confidence and resilience
  • developing good study habits

Online PAL sessions are delivered by second and third students, known as PAL Leaders. They won’t be teaching you, but will facilitate interactive group study sessions giving you the opportunity to ask questions about university life, expectations, course content, online learning and much more!

You’ll also be able to share ideas about assignments, projects and exams – all this in a friendly and collaborative online learning environment. So don’t miss out, you never know, you may go on to be a PAL Leader in the future too!

If PAL doesn’t appear in your timetable and you would like to connect and collaborate with peers, why not attend our online Resilient U PAL sessions? For more information about these student-led sessions, view the Events Diary.

For more information, visit our PAL webpage.