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.

Disclosing a mental health problem

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by the Wellbeing Service

For some people, the transition to university can be made more daunting by the thought of being surrounded by new people who don’t understand our difficulties.

Opening up

Telling people about your mental health is a personal choice and you should never feel like you have to. However, it can mean that new people around you better understand your experiences, needs and behaviours and can support you more effectively.

Telling people does not have to be ‘all or nothing’ – you can choose who you tell and what you tell them and you only need to share what is relevant. For example, you may want your flatmate to know you get really anxious around new people and ask that they let you know if they’re having people over.

If you choose to tell people about your mental health, be aware that this may be the first time they are hearing about these kind of difficulties. Letting them know where they can access accurate information is really helpful in their understanding. Mind have a great website with particular information for friends and family.

A helping hand

The University’s Wellbeing Service can support you to tell staff and friends about your difficulties if you feel it would be helpful for them to understand what you are experiencing. This could be on-going difficulties or a specific set of circumstances. This would be collaborative and is never done without your consent.

Dealing with diagnosis

If you have a formal diagnosis, our Disability Service can support you with telling relevant people in the university about your needs. They can work with you to prepare what’s called an Impact Statement which informs academic staff about your difficulties and how these affect your studies – for example letting lecturers know you may need to leave for breaks if you become too anxious. The service can also support you to arrange ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make your study experience as accessible as possible.

Access support

If you’re finding it difficult to disclose your mental health difficulties, remember that you can speak to someone at the Wellbeing Service for support. To arrange an appointment, contact us on 0117 32 86268 or email.