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.

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.

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.