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.

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.

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!