Your May Feel Good Focus

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by the Feel Good Team

As the academic year draws to a close, we understand that some of you may be feeling a mixture of emotions including excitement, stress, anxiety, and fear. Whatever you might be feeling, it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself through this time and take moments for yourself.

Feel Good Exams

Throughout May we’ll be helping you to cope with any stress you might be feeling during the assessment period.

As part of Feel Good Exams (Monday 10- Friday 28 May), we’ll be encouraging you to #Find15 (minutes) away from your screen to do something that you love. This could be anything that makes you feel good such as yoga, walking, reading, dancing, or even sleeping!

Balance is the key to ensuring the work you produce is completed to the best standard you can achieve. We’ll also be sharing some ideas for 15-minute delicious Feel Good recipes.

To get started, why not read Drama and Creative Writing student, Mercedes’, blog post on how she manages her wellbeing during the assessment period.

You can stay connected to everything Feel Good Exams via our Instagram and Twitter pages.

And did you know Mental Health Awareness Week will take place from Monday 10- Sunday 16 May? This year the theme is nature, focussing on the amazing impact getting out into to nature can have on our mental health and wellbeing.

So maybe if you’re feeling particularly stressed or bogged down during the assessment period try to #Find15 in nature.

Tackling loneliness

This year has left many of us feeling more isolated and lonelier than we have ever felt before. However, everyone will face feelings of loneliness at some point in their life.

Loneliness arises because of a person feeling that their need of rewarding social connections and relationships is not being met. It is also possible to feel lonely amongst others, due to feelings such as an inability to relate to them, feeling as though they do not care for you, and feeling misunderstood. Starting University and entering a new community and culture, can make feelings of loneliness more prevalent.

And with evidence suggesting a strong connection between loneliness, anxiousness, and depression, we want to ensure you are aware of the support available to you from the university and the wider community if you find yourself feeling lonely or isolated.

That’s why we’ve created our new Tackling loneliness webpage designed to help connect with others and make you aware of the support available to you.

Our May recommendations

Activity: Jo Wicks 15 Minute Full Body Fat Burner

Try this quick 15-minute-high intensity workout to get your blood flowing and encourage endorphins to your brain!

Activity: Yoga with Adrienne – 15 minute morning yoga

Or if you’re looking for something less intense, this simple 15-minute practise is the perfect introduction to yoga. Yoga is a great activity to do in between long sessions of sitting down to get the body moving and rebalance the mind.

Recipe: 15 minute Singapore noodles

This simple plant bases recipe is nutritionally dense and super easy to make when you haven’t got much time- give it a go!

Something new: 15 minute guided meditation

Have you ever meditated before? Meditation is a great tool to help you prevent stress and calm any existing unwanted feelings of anxiety. This practise will guide you through a peaceful exercise to help you quieten your mind.

And breathe: how to look after your wellbeing during the assessment period

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by Mercedes, BA(Hons)Drama and Creative Writing

Three cheers for exam season! No?

Yes, I know this season in education isn’t always the most popular for various reasons (I personally feel a wave of nausea come in when I hear the E word). But if you think about it, this is one of your moments to show them what you’ve got!

Now, first things first, the hard work will pay off. It absolutely will.

Luckily for us, we are in an age where you (yes, you) have mattered more than ever before. Where your wellbeing is top priority. It would be a disservice for me to tell you to work hard, but not tell you to care about yourself harder. We really begin to feel the pressure of expectation around this time, and it’s vital that you have a method under your belt to combat stress and anxiety if and when it arises.

So, how do we win in wellbeing? By first understanding that “before anything else, my health matters”.

You’ve mattered from the beginning

You are way more than just a student number in the system. I often found it hard to separate study and leisure and I almost felt like I didn’t deserve to take a break, even when I was physically tired and falling asleep at my desk.

Down went another coffee to get the work done. Looking back now, I wish I had given myself grace, and treated myself like a human and not so much like a robot.

So to you, give yourself a break! It is okay to stop for a moment and just breathe. Centre yourself. Let the overwhelm die down before hopping back into that coursework or essay. Time may be of the essence, but you really do matter more.

Find your “thing”

A beautiful thing about being your own person is that you have things that really work for you, but might not necessarily work for others and that is perfectly fine.

For me, I love to create! I’ll make beats, or write poetry, or just throw on an album, lie there and listen to it. If I could paint, I’d paint. The process is, I’m taking the stress and pressure I feel and releasing it in a way that awakens a different side of my brain and produces something tangible.

You don’t have to be perfect at any of those things either, but you’ll find yourself getting better at it so it’s a win-win! You may find yoga works for you, or maybe it’s exercise, or maybe it is a creative outlet, maybe it’s reading. Whatever it is, or if you have no idea what it is, take time out for you and try something new! There’s a heap of things that could work for you, it’s up to you to find out.

We are what we consume

I used to stress eat like it was nobody’s business and it didn’t do me any good. The bank account was not pleased and neither was my physical fitness. I’m not saying you have to hit the gym every time you have a spare 20 minutes, or you have to eat greens and greens only just to get through this assessment period. Not at all. But what I am saying, is that what we feed ourselves is what fuels us.

Eating well and staying healthy are both very strong contributing factors to self-care. Once I resolved that Domino’s isn’t going anywhere I began to treat it like a luxury, and not a necessity. Now, I buy groceries and make home-cooked meals (which is also so therapeutic!) Setting time aside to make food that’ll benefit your body and mind is another great way to feel better about yourself.

Can you see the theme here? Assessment season can be brutal, especially depending on your degree. But you want to feel healthy and headstrong for when you sit those exams, or submit that coursework and hopefully you can take some of my tips and your own flare.

Remember, you’ve mattered from the beginning!

Why apply to be a PAL leader?

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by Max, BA(Hons) Philosophy and PAL leader

Becoming a PAL Leader is about more than the added income, ability to undertake the ILM L3 in Effective Mentoring, or having some experience on your CV. It’s about having fun and making an impact with students who are going through the same thing you have just been through!

In this post I want to talk a bit more about the other sides of being a PAL Leader, that might not seem so obvious.

What do I do as a PAL leader?

What I really love about being a PAL Leader is how flexible the work is. At the end of the day, you’re there to help the students and facilitate their success at UWE.

This means that you help on a range of topics, from managing money, preparing for second year, or thinking about careers, on top of all the usual course-related content, like essay planning or even discussing particular books/topics as a group.

I have a handful of semi-planned sessions for some of the above key topics, but otherwise I will find out what my students want the following week and come prepared with a handful of resources – and maybe a toned back presentation (always using a Mentimeter where possible!) This means that outside of the timetabled session, there really isn’t much preparation required, as the training helps you deliver quality content and the rest of it comes from your experiences.

I haven’t had any other job quite like it. The flexibility truly makes it interesting, every single week.

Why did I apply?

  • For the chance to help students through things I struggled with. Ensuring that the next cohort get to enjoy all the tips and tricked that I picked up, through trial and error.
  • To make a positive impact and legacy on my course, ensuring the year below are going to enjoy the course just as much as I have – that’s where it’s really about applying your personal experience and sharing what you’ve learned with them.
  • To develop myself as a well-rounded individual. It’s rare that you get the opportunity to develop mentoring skills so early in your career, so this was a great introduction to that.

My favourite moments

Especially in the current virtual environment, it meant a lot to my students that I could facilitate a safe space for them to share and speak up, where they wouldn’t feel confident doing so in the larger lecturers/seminars.

There are both direct and indirect moments that you can help and an indirect one for me was getting their feedback about a particular extra-curricular session they had last term. I was able to take this and work with the lecturers to facilitate these sessions again this term. The students were very grateful that I went out of my way and helped arrange something that they wouldn’t have done themselves.

What have I learnt?

I’ve learned many great soft and hard skills as a PAL leader, while at the same time working and developing some skills I already picked up from previous jobs.

Organisation and the ability to be agile

The role taught me to plan a session in a matter of days and then successfully time manage within that session. It was also key to understand the balance of having enough material to fill an hour, but also not have too much that we can’t go off plan and discuss something completely different that the students want.

It’s also about not being phased if no one contributes, or if you don’t make it past the first planned exercise. As long as you can provide value to the students, then you have succeeded in that session.

Professionalism and responsibility

You’re a lifeline to students, who really value getting your insight. It’s not just about having a chat with them for an hour but delivering meaningful content that has a positive impact. And where necessary, signposting or flagging important issues to the relevant staff.

How to mentor, engage and lead classes

This is brilliant experience if you’re interested in a career in teaching but also great to show varied experience on your CV. I was able to work on my training skills from a previous job but now I can also show how I adapted them to a different setting and audience.

Thank you for taking some time to read my post, for more information on the PAL leader role check out the Be a PAL Leader web page and have a think if this is a role you can make your own and leave a lasting positive impact on fellow students.

You might not realise just how much you’ll enjoy!

UWE Skilled

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A six-week online course aimed at graduates and final year students who are concerned about the challenges of entering the modern workplace.

Worried about finding work? Don’t be.

We know the pandemic has thrown a lot of plans in the air, whether you’ve been out of University for the past year, or are about to graduate. 

But don’t worry. We’ve teamed up with Skilled to present UWE Skilled – a pioneering six-week online course designed to equip you with the digital and interpersonal skills that modern employers are looking for and help you to nail that next job interview.

Sign up now >

Who are Skilled?

Skilled have an exceptional reputation for the online learning they design, develop and deliver. Their team are pioneers in online education and experts in working collaboratively with universities to launch courses which deliver quality, access and strong outcomes for students.

They conduct research, speak to decision-makers and gather vital data to tailor each course, giving the students they teach, a solid advantage over their peers.

They’re determined to close widening digital and soft skills gaps, and have a passion to empower learners and transform lives.

We feel that these principles match the University’s values and ambitions, to give UWE Bristol students and graduates the best possible employability skills and prepare for their future careers.

What is UWE Skilled?

Find out what you can expect from our new, pioneering course which aims to give you the skills and experience to enter the job market with confidence.

What’s the course all about?

UWE Skilled is about giving you an edge when you enter the job market. You’ll tackle real-world projects, attend online seminars, and join live discussions with a wide range of employers that will interest you.

You’ll meet leading CEOs, get advice from leading companies across a wide range of sectors, and work with some of the fastest growing companies.

It’s a chance for you to gain the skills you need and take action to market yourself and enhance your job search.

It’s the final push towards finding the job you deserve.

How will the course help with my job search?

Hear from Vice-Chancellor, Steve West on how UWE Skilled will help you harness skills that all employers are looking for, no matter what subjects you’ve studied.

Course structure

We know how busy things can be in your final year, so we’ve made sure to keep this course brief and to the point. It’ll take 12-18 hours in total over six weeks, starting 24 May, and for the most part, you can study when you like – all of the training is fully online and delivered through Blackboard to avoid interrupting your degree.

You’ll only need to set time aside for the live seminars and discussions, which will have a set date and time for you to connect. The rest of the course consists of three topics, each split into two weeks’ worth of training followed by a hands-on project.

The first week for each topic will be spent learning and in the second week, you’ll apply what you’ve learned through a collaborative task set by businesses like Apple, Airbnb and Save the Children.

Weeks 1 and 2

Weeks commencing 24 May and 31 May

Think smart. Learn how big businesses use powerful, digital marketing strategies to build, grow, and influence their audience.

Weeks 3 and 4

Weeks commencing 7 June and 14 June

Gathering data is only one part of the puzzle. Learn how ground breaking brands spot patterns and trends to adapt to peoples’ needs. Learn how you can use data analytics to support your job search.

Weeks 5 and 6

Weeks commencing 21 June and 28 June

Harness one of the modern world’s most powerful and fascinating tools. Find out how businesses use AI to change lives – and how you can beat the recruitment algorithms.

How will UWE Skilled prepare me for the world of work?

Listen to Registrar and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) Jo Midgely, talk about how UWE Skilled adds to your degree and helps prepare you for your future career.

Sign up for UWE Skilled

Ready to book your place? Just fill in the contact form. We’ll send over all the information you’ll need to complete the course, including how to enrol on Blackboard, your log-in instructions and dates and times for the live events.

Sign up now >

Your April Feel Good Focus

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by the Feel Good Team

April is national stress awareness month, and with exam season on the horizon, we want to encourage you to take a moment to breathe and look after your mental and physical wellbeing.

And whether you celebrate Easter or not, the Easter break is a great opportunity to do this, so take some time for yourself and eat all the chocolate you want to!

Here are top tips for reducing stress to help you to enter the assessment period with a clear mind.

Do something you love

Ensuring balance is key and whilst it’s great that you might work hard within your course, taking time for yourself each day to do something you love, whether it’s a hobby, crafting or watching a film, will help you to feel more positive and support your academic performance by reducing stress.

Get some sleep

Getting the required amount of sleep will reduce chances of developing poor mental health and will leave you feeling more energised to face the day.

Step outside

Spending time in nature has been found to reduce stress and help with mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. Make sure you take that time away from your screen to engage with the natural world and breath in some fresh air!

Accept the things you can’t change

We often get stressed about things that are beyond our control. Try to focus on the things you can control and don’t let the things you can’t, get under your skin!

Avoid unhealthy habits

We often turn to unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking and caffeine as a coping mechanism for stress. In the long term, these vices don’t help to solve the problem and often create new ones. Try to develop healthy habits to help support you instead.

Take control

The feeling of losing control can often cause us to feel stressed and effect our wellbeing. Whilst you can’t control everything, trying to take control of your feelings by implementing healthy habits can help you to feel empowered and improve your mood.

For more information on how to manage stress and stress awareness month visit the Stress Management Society to find out more.

And If you’re 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.

Our April recommendations

Book: A Monk’s Guide to Happiness: Meditation in the 21st Century by Gelong Thubten

In our never-ending search for happiness, we often find ourselves looking to external things for fulfilment such as buying material things or getting the next promotion. In this profound and inspiring book, Gelong Thubten shares a practical and sustainable approach to happiness. It’ll will help you to develop compassion for yourself and others and teach you great techniques to help implement meditation techniques throughout the day.

Podcast: Venetia la Manna’s All the small things

In this episode Venetia La Manna chats to Gelong Thubten, (he/him) a Buddhist monk, meditation teacher and author of this month’s book recommendation. During the episode Gelong discusses interconnectivity, daily practise and self-forgiveness.

Recipe: Vegan hot cross buns

Try out this Easter classic, these are so easy to make, and you can be sure that they will impress your family and friends!

Activity: Yoga

Yoga can be a great way to help you get moving whilst releasing the stress and tension that might be held in your body. UWE Bristol Sport have some great online yoga classes you can try!