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.

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!

Your March Feel Good focus

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by the Feel Good Team

Spring is on its way!

After what feels like a long winter, we’re all settling into the first semester and spring is finally round the corner!

Whilst the sun coming out tends to lift our spirits, as the government restrictions continue, it’s never been more important for us to focus on our mental and physical wellbeing.

In this Feel Good Focus, one of our placement students, Afiya, will be sharing with you her ‘top tips to takeaway from 2020’ to help you reflect on what was a hard time for many of us and focus your attention on what we can learn from those experiences.

But first, did you know March is Women’s History Month?

We’re proud to be launching our programme and with this year’s theme #ChooseToChallenge, it’s an opportunity for us all to take an active role in championing gender equality here at UWE Bristol and beyond.

Join us for our launch event, “Redefining Feminism” on Wednesday 3 March, from 12:00-13:30, where we will be welcoming Peaches Golding OBE (Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Bristol) in conversation with Bassmala Elbushary (UWE Bristol student and Equity Student Committee). Peaches will share her reflections of how women are a force for change through a lens of intersectionality – whilst exploring issues of widening access to opportunity, education, social justice and mental health. This event is open to all and will include an executive welcome from Jacqueline Chelin, UWE Bristol Deputy Director of Library, Careers and Inclusivity.

The full Women’s History Month programme can be viewed on our UWE Bristol events.

Afiya’s top tips to takeaway from 2020

Time is the real currency

Time is an undervalued resource that people tend to take for granted. It’s important that it’s fully utilised as once time has gone it can never be replaced, unlike money.

Cherish your loved ones

Life can feel hectic at times with many deadlines and other commitments. In order to avoid burnout and maintain productivity I’ve found it important to keep in contact with loved ones! Staying connected with loved ones is a great way to help you feel refreshed and ready to face challenges.

Adapting is key

The ability to adapt to different environments and see change as an exciting challenge is a useful skill. The world is constantly changing, and life tends to throw us curve balls. Focusing on adaptability can really help us through.

Save money if you can

Last year was unpredictable and one thing I’m taking from it is that if you’re in a position to be able to save some money, it can be a good idea to provide a bit of security in challenging times.

Meditation is powerful

The past year has highlighted to many of us that focusing on mental health is important. Meditation can be a great way of preventing and dealing with stress as well as the repercussions of covid-19.

Live life to the fullest

Growing up, it feels like you have all the time in the world. As teenagers we tend to procrastinate and leave important things until the last minute. But going forward, I think that 2021 should be the year of getting productive and avoiding procrastination.

Our March recommendations

Book: Matthew Walkers’ Why We Sleep

With all the time we spend looking at screens, one of the most relaxing things that we can do is to switch our minds to a book. Sleep is often disregarded as being a minor factor within our wellbeing. But this book highlights exactly how important sleep is for our mental and physical health and provides some useful tips if you are struggling to drift off naturally.

Craft: Luminary bags

We want to encourage you to get creative this month. Having a go at a creative activity can help you to switch your mind off from the world and create something beautiful. Anyone could have a go at making a luminary bag, this example uses old maps and it will bring some warm light into your home!

Recipe: Chargrilled sprouting broccoli with sweet tahini

A great way to get those fruit and vegetables in your diet is to keep up to date with what is in season and discover new recipes around those! As well as sprouting broccoli, artichokes, beetroot, carrots, cucumber and leeks are all in season.

Activity: Get outdoors!

As the weather gets warmer, getting that outdoor exercise in may become a little bit less daunting. Breathing in fresh air increases oxygen levels and in turn boosts serotonin levels, naturally improving our mood.

Furthermore, spring is a magical time to observe nature, the trees are becoming greener again and flowers such as daffodils can be spotted in most areas in the UK. Observing these changes is a great way of implementing a sense of mindfulness into our everyday lives, helping us to manage our worries.

Check out UWE Bristol’s alum Helen Ilus ‘Greenground Map’of Bristol inspired by Harry Beck’s London Underground Map for ideas on where to go!

Helen Ilus ‘Greenground Map’of Bristol

Your February Feel Good Focus

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by the Feel Good Team

We’re excited to announce our annual programme for Feel Good February, here to help you start the year in a healthy way. And with the ongoing UK lockdown, we believe that this might be the most important Feel Good February to date.

February is also LGBT+ History Month, an annual observance and celebration of the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights movement. This year’s theme is ‘Mind, Body and Soul’ and there will be opportunities for everyone within the UWE community to get involved. We hope that you can attend some of the events and show your support!

Feel Good February

Over the month we will be bringing you a series of free activities and events designed to inspire and empower you to ‘feel good’ and look after your health and wellbeing!

This year will look a little different, with all our events running virtually. However, this means that all the events are accessible from wherever you are in the world, with a hope that you can feel part of the UWE community and perhaps even meet some new faces!

Inspired by the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ designed by the World Health Organisation, the Feel Good team will be running four themed weeks over February focusing on relaxing, eating well, getting active and trying something new.

So why are these themes important? Here are some reasons why relaxing, eating well, getting active, and trying something new, can have a huge positive impact on your wellbeing!

Relax

  • Managing stress is vital for your mental health and wellbeing.
  • It’s a positive thing to talk, seek help, or engage in activities that benefit your mental health.
  • Everybody deserves a break and taking time out can re-energise you.
  • Manage your stress levels with self-care strategies that work for you.

Everyone has their own ways to relax and we’ll empower you to find yours!

Eat Well

  • How energised and healthy you feel is down to how you fuel your body.
  • Eating a balanced diet is good for mental and physical health.
  • Try going veggie or vegan to help the environment.
  • Stay hydrated for a healthy body and a clear mind.

We’ll be sharing healthy recipes and tips to help you eat well!

Get Active

  • Exercise boosts your mood by releasing ‘feel good’ endorphins.
  • Regular activity is a great way to manage stress and let off some steam.
  • Getting outdoors is proven to be really beneficial for your mental health.
  • Its also great for connecting with others at an exercise class, sports club or walk (socially distanced of course).

Get involved with some of the virtual activities taking place or just grab some shoes and go for a walk.

Try something new

  • Challenge yourself with a new activity -you’ll leave feeling accomplished.
  • Connect with new people who share your interests.
  • Get involved in your community, not only can you gain valuable skills but it’ll also improve your sense of wellbeing.

We have a huge range of exciting activities you can get involved in.

Our February recommendations

Podcast: Venetia la Manna’s Talking Tastebuds

In this episode Venetia La Manna chats to a special guest Kenny Ethan Jones. As an activist and model, Kenny was the first trans man to front a period campaign and in the episode he discusses body politics, mental health and intimacy.

Film: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

Filmmakers re-examine the 1992 death of black, gay rights activist and Stonewall veteran, Marsha P. Johnson.

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.