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.

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!

Kindness is key

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by the Feel Good Team

Moving away from home to University can be a daunting time, especially at the moment. And whilst you might be really excited, some new students might be struggling with nerves and worries.

Here we really care about your wellbeing and happiness – and it starts with all of us being nice and looking out for each other. And with it being World Kindness Day what better time to share some little acts of kindness which might make a difference to someone’s day!

And whilst we know that the pandemic has restricted how we can interact with each other and limited how much contact you can have with another person, there are still lots of ways you can be kind to others.

Why not try out some of these random acts of kindness?

  • Organise a virtual catch up or phone call with a friend or family member, especially if you think they are lonely or are self-isolating.
  • If you’ve got a course mate who’s a bit quieter than everyone else, reach out to them. It costs nothing to say ‘hi’ or give them a wave if you’re on campus– you could be the first person who’s been friendly to them.
  • Make a cup of tea for one of your flatmates.
  • If you see somebody looking lost on campus, ask them where they’re going. You might not be able to direct them, but you can always see if you’re headed to the same place.
  • Reach out to a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • If a friend is having to self-isolate, arrange to watch a film or TV programme with them at the same time and video call.
  • Tell someone you know, why you are thankful for them.

And most importantly remember that everyone is going through a difficult time at the moment, so have patience with other people and be kind to yourself as well!

Want to know more about Feel Good? Check out our webpage!

Worried about settling in and making friends?

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by The Feel Good Team

Moving to university is a massive change and can feel pretty intense. Loads of our new students tell us they feel worried about settling in and making friends, which is completely normal. So we’ve put together some top tips on how to get involved and make friends.

Smile and say ‘Hi’

Simple, but it can make all the difference! Introduce yourself and smile – whether it’s your new flatmates, new classmates, or people at an activity. Even just having one or two nice conversations helps you to feel more confident and less worried – so be the one that breaks the ice first!

Food with your flatmates

Everybody needs to eat, and it’s a perfect way to do something together and get to know who you’re living with. Whether it’s navigating your way to the local supermarket together, ordering a takeaway, or making pasta and pesto, it’s a good way to chat and have a laugh. You can even get your whole flat involved for a pizza night.

Lacking confidence in the kitchen? Check out our Cooking up a storm blog post for tips!

HallsLife

If you’re living in halls, then there will be loads of fun stuff going on, including online activities, run by HallsLife. This is a great way to get to know people living in your flat and in your halls. This also encourages a bit of friendly competition with other halls too, which can be fun.

Find your society

With thousands of students, we have clubs and societies that suit everybody! Signing up for activities, clubs, teams or societies is a great way to meet other new students who have similar interests to you.

Get involved

Find out what’s going on across the university and get involved! The Students’ Union is a great place to meet other students and they have loads of virtual and face to face events coming up! You can also connect with others via the HallsLife and Feel Good Facebook pages and Freshers groups.

Cooking up a storm at University

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by the Feel Good Team

What is Feel Good?

The Feel Good programme is based on healthy behaviours for your wellbeing. We believe in empowering you to make healthy choices and run events throughout the year to help you relax, eat well, get active and try new things.

Eat well

We all love eating out and getting food delivered (especially after months of lockdown) and it can be fun whilst you are settling in and meeting new people.

But it can get expensive and unhealthy pretty quickly, so try and balance it with some healthy, home-cooked meals too. Making sure you’re eating some wholesome, balanced meals is so important to keep your energy levels up, keep you feeling good and well.

Once you’re settled in, cooking in your accommodation can also be a great way to get to know your new housemates. Whether you’re cooking group meals together, or doing your own thing – it’s a chance to socialise and get to know your new housemates.

Our top tips for cooking at university

  1. Bulk cooking is cheaper than cooking one meal at a time. Make a big dish of something like pasta or chilli, store it in the fridge and you’ve got a quick, easy and delicious lunch or dinner whenever you need it.
  2. Pick the no-fuss stuff. Buying the supermarket’s ‘own brand’ items wherever possible will save you so much money. You pay so much extra for branded items and it doesn’t taste that different – so shop smart.
  3. Buy it dry. Stock up on dry rice, pasta and own brand cereal. They aren’t very expensive, they’ll last ages and can be used as the basis of loads of different meals.
  4. Multipacks means more. Whilst multi-packs might cost more upfront, you’ll save lots in the long run. For example, a bag of crisps or a Diet Coke can set you back around £1 for just one from a small convenience store or a vending machine. But in supermarkets, you can normally get a multi-pack of 6+ for just double that price.
  5. Don’t forget the seasoning! When you start cooking away from home you might find your food tastes so bland… That would be seasoning! Salt and pepper, basic seasoning and spice mixes are cheap and make a world of difference to your dishes.
  6. Ice ice baby…If you want to buy meat or fish it can be a lot cheaper from the freezer section (just make sure you have a freezer in your accommodation before you buy it). Meat-free alternatives like Quorn can sometimes also be cheaper, and they are high in protein and low in fat too.

And did you know it’s Feel Good Fortnight? Events started on Monday and run until Sunday 4 October. See all our Feel Good Fortnight events and get involved!