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!

Why apply to be a PAL leader?

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by Max, BA(Hons) Philosophy and PAL leader

Becoming a PAL Leader is about more than the added income, ability to undertake the ILM L3 in Effective Mentoring, or having some experience on your CV. It’s about having fun and making an impact with students who are going through the same thing you have just been through!

In this post I want to talk a bit more about the other sides of being a PAL Leader, that might not seem so obvious.

What do I do as a PAL leader?

What I really love about being a PAL Leader is how flexible the work is. At the end of the day, you’re there to help the students and facilitate their success at UWE.

This means that you help on a range of topics, from managing money, preparing for second year, or thinking about careers, on top of all the usual course-related content, like essay planning or even discussing particular books/topics as a group.

I have a handful of semi-planned sessions for some of the above key topics, but otherwise I will find out what my students want the following week and come prepared with a handful of resources – and maybe a toned back presentation (always using a Mentimeter where possible!) This means that outside of the timetabled session, there really isn’t much preparation required, as the training helps you deliver quality content and the rest of it comes from your experiences.

I haven’t had any other job quite like it. The flexibility truly makes it interesting, every single week.

Why did I apply?

  • For the chance to help students through things I struggled with. Ensuring that the next cohort get to enjoy all the tips and tricked that I picked up, through trial and error.
  • To make a positive impact and legacy on my course, ensuring the year below are going to enjoy the course just as much as I have – that’s where it’s really about applying your personal experience and sharing what you’ve learned with them.
  • To develop myself as a well-rounded individual. It’s rare that you get the opportunity to develop mentoring skills so early in your career, so this was a great introduction to that.

My favourite moments

Especially in the current virtual environment, it meant a lot to my students that I could facilitate a safe space for them to share and speak up, where they wouldn’t feel confident doing so in the larger lecturers/seminars.

There are both direct and indirect moments that you can help and an indirect one for me was getting their feedback about a particular extra-curricular session they had last term. I was able to take this and work with the lecturers to facilitate these sessions again this term. The students were very grateful that I went out of my way and helped arrange something that they wouldn’t have done themselves.

What have I learnt?

I’ve learned many great soft and hard skills as a PAL leader, while at the same time working and developing some skills I already picked up from previous jobs.

Organisation and the ability to be agile

The role taught me to plan a session in a matter of days and then successfully time manage within that session. It was also key to understand the balance of having enough material to fill an hour, but also not have too much that we can’t go off plan and discuss something completely different that the students want.

It’s also about not being phased if no one contributes, or if you don’t make it past the first planned exercise. As long as you can provide value to the students, then you have succeeded in that session.

Professionalism and responsibility

You’re a lifeline to students, who really value getting your insight. It’s not just about having a chat with them for an hour but delivering meaningful content that has a positive impact. And where necessary, signposting or flagging important issues to the relevant staff.

How to mentor, engage and lead classes

This is brilliant experience if you’re interested in a career in teaching but also great to show varied experience on your CV. I was able to work on my training skills from a previous job but now I can also show how I adapted them to a different setting and audience.

Thank you for taking some time to read my post, for more information on the PAL leader role check out the Be a PAL Leader web page and have a think if this is a role you can make your own and leave a lasting positive impact on fellow students.

You might not realise just how much you’ll enjoy!

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

Study skills support

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by Library Services

We’re here to help you to gain the study skills you need at university and beyond. A great place to start is our preparing for study webpage which is is full of advice and online tutorials designed to get you ready for academic study.

Here’s just a few of the ways you can get support from the library.

Online workbooks

You can use our online workbooks on reading and making notes, referencing and academic and critical writing.

Workshops

Library staff run study skills workshops, covering key skills such as referencing, using your reading and critical writing skills.

Talk to us

Just visit any of our Libraries and talk to us – or ask a question through our 24/7 online chat service (which you can access from the Library website).

When you get feedback from your first assignment, we can help you to understand and benefit from this and target the improvements you want to make before your next submission.

English language support

Sign up to our workshops on our Communication Skills for International Students programme. Each Faculty has specialist study support staff who provide help ranging from writing to mathematics and programming.

Discover more of our workshops, support and online tutorials on our study skills webpage.