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.

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!

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.