An introduction to mindfulness

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by Happy Mind Collective

Who are Happy Mind Collective?

Our aim is to make mindfulness more accessible. Starting with school children and then their teachers and parents, we realised that simple, everyday mindfulness techniques could have a big affect on people’s productivity and wellbeing.

An introduction to mindfulness

Designed for busy students, our introductory mindfulness course has been written as a practical ‘how to guide’. It’s designed for students of all ages and levels, 15 minute videos, tackling the the most persistent problems in your day such as focus, planning, prioritisation and workload.

Divided into 10 concise modules, the techniques are designed to be easily applied to daily work tasks to integrate mindfulness into your work life, giving immediate benefits to your productivity and performance.

As a UWE Bristol student you get free access to the modules from now until Sunday 28 February.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

  • Helps to replace negative thought patterns and rewire your brain by creating positive mind qualities.
  • Teaches you to respond mindfully to unforeseen problems that crop up in your day rather than reverting to negative unhelpful habits.
  • Develops a more balanced and high performing mind by increasing focus and effective prioritisation.
  • Decreases in unproductive multitasking and mental tiredness and stress.
  • Studies have also shown that it improves memory and sleep quality.

We aim for helpful, prescriptive information without theory and mysticism. So we give you the most immediate practical information straight away. Once you have seen the benefits you will look for its broader application in your life and work.

To get started simply create an account and start working your way through the modules.

This course acts as an introduction to mindfulness, if you want to take the practice further we have more in depth programs that develop a daily practice.

Nilaari: Culturally sensitive help with stress and anxiety

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by Nilaari

Who are we?

Nilaari is a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic led registered charity with over 20 years experience delivering social care support, talking therapies and training to adults and young people across Bristol. And we’re working with UWE Bristol to provide specialist support for overseas and BAME students.

Bristol is a brilliant place to be a student, that goes without saying, but many BAME and overseas students find there are often huge changes and mental adjustments that need to be made when they get here.

What do we do?

Here at Nilaari we’re aware of the difficulties that can arise from being ‘different’ or thought of as ‘other’ and the micro aggressions that you might be experiencing which can affect your mood and wellbeing.

We also understand that being at university over the last year has seen many additional pressures and all of this can play on your mind and cause stress, anxiety and low mood. We know about the new anxieties caused by covid 19 and we’re also very aware of the negative impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has unsettled so many BAME people in a variety of ways.

When you contact Nilaari, we put respect and dignity first. We’ll listen carefully, respond appropriately and focus on coping strategies to build your resilience. We can also signpost you to other specialist support if you should need it. Our services are free and totally confidential.

So if you are a student, either from overseas or from a BAME heritage, you can contact us and talk with one of our qualified and experienced diverse team. This can be a one off conversation or regular weekly sessions, whatever you need to help you deal with what’s going on in your life right now.

How can you access our support?

Just send an email to: zara.b@nilaari.co.uk with the subject line: ‘Nilaari BAME Student Offer’. In the email provide your name, student number and safe contact telephone number.

We’ll then acknowledge your email and place you on the waiting list to be contacted by one of our lovely counsellors as soon as there is a space.

Please don’t suffer in silence and if you need more urgent support take a look at UWE Bristol’s wellbeing support options.

Asymptomatic testing

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On behalf of the UK government, we’ll be offering free asymptomatic tests for UWE Bristol students who need to be on campus. Testing will be from 4 January until 5 February 2021.

How do you work out when you need to book tests?

If you’ve already moved back into accommodation, have your tests as soon as possible after arriving. If you’re moving back into accommodation because you need to be on campus for teaching, have your tests as soon as possible after arriving and limit social contact between tests.

Use the links below to book your test. Book each test separately.

Frenchay Campus, Centre for Sport

  • Dates available: 4 January to 5 February
  • Opening times: 10:00 to 18:00 (last appointment 17:30). Seven days a week

Book your test at Frenchay campus >

Living in the city centre?

In partnership with University of Bristol, we’re offering a limited number of tests at University of Bristol’s Students’ Union (Anson Rooms).

Book your test at the Anston rooms >

You can also check with your local authority, who may be offering lateral flow tests for residents.

What to expect

You can find out what to expect on the day of the test on our Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students webpage.

Your January Feel Good Focus

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by the Feel Good Team

Following the festivities of the Christmas break, many of us dread January and the cold weather it brings. This year, with lockdown continuing to be a reality for all of us, it can bring on a variety of new challenges navigating your studies alongside the global pandemic.

The Feel Good Team want to help you to reframe any negative connotations January might have and help you step into the new year positively. This time could be a chance to set new goals (big or small!), focus on your well-being, and practise small acts of gratitude.

Create a calm environment

The environment you surround yourself with can often influence your mental health and your ability to work productively. Here are some top tips for organising your space:

  • Have a clear out – sort through your belongings and eradicate anything that might be cluttering your space or would be more useful to someone else. You could donate your items to a charity, sell them on eBay or Depop, or even offer them to a friend.
  • Keep your desk tidy – don’t have too many things that may distract you or get in your way where you are trying to work!
  • Invest in a soft light lamp to create a warm atmosphere, you could even use fairy lights. This can be a lifesaver on those gloomy grey days!

Create pockets of time for yourself

If you are finding it hard to get back into the rhythm of studying, ease yourself in gently. Set working hours that you know will suite you- this is personal as morning birds may work better in the morning than night owls! Whatever you do though, schedule in breaks and take some time to do what makes you feel good!

Take some time off social media

Social media can be an overwhelming place that often makes us feel worse. We tend to only see the ‘highs’ of a person’s life on social media, which can cause us to feel lower about wherever we might be. Remember that everyone has bad days and taking yourself away from those visual comparisons can really help lighten our moods!

Set some short-term goals

Long-term New Years Resolutions can often get lost throughout the year as life tends to throw things at us that are difficult to predict! So, why not try setting daily, weekly, or monthly goals?!

If you are keen to try something new why not try Veganuary? Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people worldwide to try a vegan diet in January and beyond. The benefits of a vegan diet range from lowering your risk of heart disease to helping save the planet! Take a look at our recipe suggesting below for some inspiration.

Our January recommendations

Podcast: Venetia la Manna’s Talking Tastebuds

In this weekly interview series Venetia La Manna chats to a special guest about their life with food, well-being and conscious living. In particular check out the episode with Dr Rangan Chatterjee: Healthy Habits for a Full Life.

Film: The Game Changers

This film centres on the story of James Wilks — elite Special Forces trainer and The Ultimate Fighter winner — as he travels the world to uncover the optimal diet for human performance. The film features a number of world class athletes and their experience of a plant based diet, such as Lewis Hamilton, Morgan Mitchell and Novak Djokovic.

Value for money

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Getting value for money from your tuition fees is about more than just making sure you have great academic staff to learn from. That is an important part of it, but University is a much more rounded experience. It involves having somewhere pleasant to study, having opportunities to build your employability skills and career prospects and getting help and support in your academic and personal life.

So your tuition fee is not just spent on providing your teaching. It is spent on everything that contributes to your studies at UWE Bristol, including services and facilities that support your student experience.

Financial report and key financial statistics for 2019/20

What we spent our money on during 2019/20

The following pie chart highlights the University’s financial expenditure per pound of income for the year. You can also view in text format.

Income by type 2019/20 (£m)

Total income for 2019/20 was £303.1m. The following pie chart indicates the University’s income by type during 2019/20. You can also view this in text format.

Expenditure by type 2019/20 (£m)

Total expenditure for 2019/20 was £300.5m. The following pie chart indicates the University’s expenditure by type during 2019/20. You can also view this in text format.

Value for money during the coronavirus pandemic

We understand and hear your frustrations with regards to the tuition fees and debt being accumulated for the 2020-2021 academic year. We appreciate that providing education through online learning is not what you anticipated. This way of learning and assessment may feel very different, but rest assured the University is working hard to maintain the quality of your teaching and learning experience and to ensure that you still have access to a full range of support services.

Programme teams are spending just as much time now to prepare and deliver teaching online as they have in the past. We are also investing in our digital infrastructure. Over the summer we reviewed changes to teaching and assessment for the 20/21 academic year. The Quality Assurance process have assured the University that changes this year provide an equivalent quality experience, and can enable you to progress with your learning, and can achieve your qualification.

Our campuses have been open for teaching, studying and living for the entire academic year and all have been made Covid-secure. The blended approach of some online and some face-to-face teaching has meant that we’re able to balance numbers on campus, to ensure we comply with the government’s requirements.

Equity and inclusion are at the heart of our learning, teaching and assessment plans for 20/21. These principles of fairness are at the forefront of our decision-making process. If you are struggling with online learning for whatever reason, let us know and we can direct you to appropriate support. We are working hard to put in place mitigations, checks and balances to ensure our students are not disadvantaged in any way, these have included setting up ‘Block Zero’, to introduce students to the new digital learning environment, and making changes to the University’s regulations to enable uncapped resits.

Remember, if your course is funded by Student Finance England (or similar bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), the amount of tuition fees you’ll repay will be based on how much you earn, not how much you borrow. UCAS has worked with Student Finance England to publish a useful guide to understand how repaying your student loan works.

How we’re supporting you in your studies in 2020/21

We understand that these are uncertain times, but please be assured that we have a number of measures which can help you either if there has been a specific disadvantage to you as an individual or as part of a group.

Capping has been removed from the regulations for resits and retakes

The University is no longer capping overall module marks for resits and retakes, unless a module mark is already capped.

You can still submit coursework late up to 24 hours after the deadline

But please note that the mark penalty for using the 24 hour window remains. Marks for late coursework submitted in the 24 hour window are reduced to the pass mark (40% in the case of levels 0-3 and 50% for level M).

Assessment support

If you’re struggling with any upcoming assessment deadlines check the assessment support options to find out what help is available to you.

Want some time out from your studies?

If you wish to temporarily suspend your studies, book an appointment with a Student Support Adviser via an Information Point. They can talk you through your options and explain what happens next.

Cohort adverse circumstances

We have a process called cohort adverse circumstances for when a group of students has been particularly affected during an assessment.

Summary of the changes to the academic regulations

If you would like to see how this year’s regulations are different to last year’s please take a look at the table towards the bottom of our alternative academic regulations webpage.

Financial support

If you need some financial support during your studies, we have different funds that you can access.

Support over the Christmas Vacation

Our Holiday Closure webpage has been updated to reflected all the support, opening hours and activities that will be taking place during the closure. Please signpost students to this information.

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!