UWE Bristol Health and Wellbeing follow up survey

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Well done on completing your first year at UWE Bristol- especially as it’s been such a tough one!

You might remember filling in a ‘Pre-Arrival Health & Wellbeing Survey’ last summer, now we’re checking in to see how things are.

This is entirely anonymous and results will be used to help us set priorities – so let us know what you thought!

Complete the survey >

Thanks for your participation.

Tackling loneliness

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Loneliness is something that everyone feels at some point in their lives and each of our experiences are individual to us. To find out more about loneliness and what can cause and contribute to it, take a look at Mind’s website.

We’ve pulled together some information on how to build connections and meet others. We hope you find this useful and remember, you can always reach out for support if you need help.

To find out how to access any wellbeing support you need, visit our wellbeing support information.

Tips to help with loneliness

Watch this short video from Mind for tips to help you with loneliness. 

Connect with others at UWE Bristol

University events

Take part in UWE Bristol events. The University hosts a wide range of activities throughout the year, from Feel Good to workshops and socials. And, with the roadmap out of lockdown moving forward, hopefully we’ll get some in person events soon too.

MOVE

MOVE offers a wide range of exercise activities and classes to help you meet new people, feel good and be active. Activities are designed for all levels of ability and experience.

The Centre for Music

The Centre for Music is open for members. Join them for music software tutorials, music lessons or music masterclass events. It’s free to become a member and it’s a great way to learn new skills and meet new people.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to meet others, all whilst doing something great that makes you feel good. You can take part as little or as often as you like, and you’ll meet people whilst helping your community.

Connect with others through The Students’ Union

Events

The Students’ Union at UWE are still hosting a range of virtual events to keep you connected to fellow students. And with restrictions easing, keep an eye out for in-person events too!

Societies

Get involved with The Students’ Union at UWE societies – it’s a great way to meet like-minded people who share your interests, learn new skills and most importantly, have fun!

The Discord networking platform

Join the Discord networking platform to meet and chat to other UWE Bristol Students online.

Hallslife

If you live on campus, HallsLife is here to help you feel at home at UWE Bristol. Throughout the year they organise events and competitions that you can get involved with. This is a great way to meet others living in halls accommodation.

Connect with others in the community

Meetup

Meetup is a great way to meet other people in your local area (events and group sessions are currently online). Browse groups by interest (like health and wellness, film, technology) or search for groups near you. Millions of people use Meetup and there should always be likeminded people nearby.

Time outdoors

Time outdoors provides a list of activity clubs in your local area, such as walking, running, climbing and cycling groups.

FriendMatch

FriendMatch works like a dating site, but matches people up with new friends rather than dates. Meet new friends near you, or connect with others around the world. There is a small fee of £4 per month to use the site.

Do It

Volunteering is another good way to meet other people. Search opportunities near you using Do It, the national database of volunteering.

Find support in the community

Befriending

Sign up for an informal weekly phone chat with Changes Bristol Befriending Service. Befrienders are trained volunteers who are happy to listen to you speak about how you’re feeling, what challenges you’re facing and how you’re coping.

Student Space

Student Space offer free, confidential, one-to-one support by text, webchat, phone and email. They’re there to help with whatever challenge your facing whether it’s loneliness, mental health, studies, money, relationships or isolation.

Mind’s online community

It’s a powerful thing to connect with someone else over shared experiences. Side by Side is an online community where you can listen, share and be heard.

Summer events: on campus and online

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by the Events team

To recognise your amazing achievements over the past year, and to say thank you for your hard work, patience and resilience, we’ll be bringing you a range of online and in-person events during May and June. Plus a way to reflect on the past year on social media.

Did someone say Ferris wheel?!

See Frenchay Campus from new heights on a Ferris wheel; enjoy some free ice cream; go play some crazy golf; sit with friends in a field of socially distant hearts; get involved in the front row at our Virtual Live Comedy Event.

Plus we’re organising a social down at the Arnolfini where you can expect discounted drinks and an exclusive private seating area for UWE Bristol staff and students!

Whether you’re joining us on campus or online, we hope there’s something for you to enjoy. Some events require registration in advance so take a look and get booking!

How has the pandemic changed you in a positive way?

We’d also love to know how you feel the pandemic has changed you in a positive way – so print our template, write your response, take a picture or use our Instagram story template and pop it on social with the hashtag #TeamUWE.

It might be ‘I am stronger’ or ‘I am more connected to my community’ – we can’t wait to see your pictures!

We look forward to seeing you on campus and online!

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!

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.

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.

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!