Your November Feel Good Focus

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by the Feel Good Team

Hello November! Well hasn’t that come around very quickly.

We hope that you are all settled in and finding your feet. However, if you are not feeling ok, it’s ok! You have to remember that you’re not alone and others are also feeling the same way.

Being at university can feel like a lot sometimes and it can become overwhelming, especially when you start having deadlines. But don’t feel like you need to tackle the stress and worry alone. It’s important to get in touch if you feel you need some help or support – our kind staff here at UWE Bristol are here to help you.

It also doesn’t help that the days are getting shorter leading to people suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or the ‘winter blues’. Symptoms can include lack of energy, change of appetite or feeling sad, low or hopeless.

If you feel that you are suffering from this, here are some tips to help manage and overcome the winter blues:

Keep active

Even though it’s cold outside, make sure you get out during the day to get as much daylight as possible. Exercise is a great mood booster so whether it’s a short walk, run or going to the gym or a class, it can really help get those endorphins flowing. Why not make the most of this year’s free MOVE membership and try a class?

Eat well

When the days get shorter the amount of vitamin D we get from the sun decreases which is why many people feel the symptoms of SAD or generally feel unwell through the winter months. Make sure you’re getting vitamin D in your diet instead, by eating foods like oily fish, or by taking daily supplements.

Some people also find that they want to eat more during winter or snack more regularly. If that’s how you’re feeling, make sure you’re eating a balanced diet whilst also allowing yourself a treat!

Try something new

Try to take up a new hobby, whether it’s writing a blog, sewing, juggling or making banana bread, as it will give your mind something to concentrate on that you enjoy.

And finally…talk about it

Just talking to someone about your feelings and worries can make you feel better. Speaking to friends and family can work well as they know you best and can often give you the support you need.

But if you don’t want to talk to family or friends and are finding something difficult, don’t suffer in silence. Take a look at our wellbeing support options and find the help that you need. From counselling through the Wellbeing Service, to same day support and self-help, there’s always somewhere to turn.

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.