Staying active while staying put

We’ve been in lockdown for nearly 4 weeks now, so understandably some of us may be feeling a little cooped up. Staying active, even for 30 mins a day or less, will give big benefits to our fitness, and overall health and wellbeing. At a time when so much is happening that we can’t control, putting things in place for yourself that you can rely on become even more important. Here are our top tips for staying active while staying put. All of these activities can be done in very small spaces, and with a minimum amount of equipment, so give them a go!

What you’ll need:

  • A yoga mat. If you don’t have one, a towel will do the trick as well.
  • Make-do weights. Use books, water bottles – anything you can get your hands on.
  • Resistance bands. If you don’t have anything to hand, you can do these moves perfectly well without them.
  • Plenty of water. This one’s crucial. Hydration is key so make sure you have plenty of water to hand.

Now to get you started – here’s some inspiration to get you moving, right in your living room:

Exercise regularly

Put in a schedule in place for yourself to exercise regularly throughout the week. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session though; there is a lot happening right now that’s hard to keep up with. As long as you put in an effort to exercise as much as you can, you’ll still get massive benefits.

Reach out to your wellness community

Link up with your friends and family via Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp or Facetime, so you can work out together, if you’re home alone. You’ll be much more motivated to stick with something if you’re doing it together.

Try something new 

Have you always been a runner, or a cyclist? While you can still strap on your trainers and keep doing just that, consider using this time to do lots of core strengthening exercises / yoga to increase your flexibility and avoid injuries.

Find something for you

There is so much out there for you to try, from Yin Yoga (which is very slow-paced and very restorative), to very intensive HIIT classes that include lots of high-intensity exercises that can be performed on the spot.

Look at what suits you – and just start, somewhere

Don’t feel bad if you’re not performing like a fully-fledged athlete right off the bat. Fitness has to be built up. There are amazing services out there that will help you, and that are hosting online sessions delivered by local providers. Try MoveGB, FIIT or Freeletics. Make sure you share your experiences too, so people can find out more about them that way too.

Be patient and kind to yourself

Don’t try and do too much, all at once, especially if you’re new to regular exercise. Take it slow, especially at the start of your new exercise programme, and build up very slowly. There are lots of modifications that you can do to make exercises more accessible for you. As always, if you have any underlying health conditions that prevent you from exercising or aren’t feeling well – give high intensity exercise a rest for a while!

We’d like to pull together exercise activities for you to keep you moving – what would you like to see? Tell us what would help you staying active while staying put.

Ways to curb lockdown boredom

Hi guys, my name is Elaura and I’m a second year History student! Here are some of my tips and recommendations on how to stay productive and positive during the COVID 19 lockdown!

It’s now the third week of national lockdown from the COVID 19 pandemic and we’re all starting to become climatized to life indoors. At some point during this experience, we will all have days where we struggle a bit more and find it difficult to think positively and be productive. So, it’s important that we all look out for one another and find ways to make the long-haul of self-isolation manageable and enjoyable if we can help it. I’ve used this space to share some ideas on how to stay positive, things I’ve found to do with my household to pass the time, and things you can incorporate into your routine to boost productivity.

Things to try at home

Work out

Exercise is a pretty obvious one that I’m sure everyone is doing, but scheduling time to do a routine with family members, or even by yourself, helps pass time, release endorphins and make you feel rewarded after. There are loads of YouTube follow along videos, Live streams from channels via Uni Days and 30 day challenges you can find and try to complete!

Virtual Pub Quiz

As of last week, Jay Flynn created an online pub quiz via Facebook that turned into a massive success. I did it with my family and it was really good fun, I think he’s doing another one soon so keep an eye out!

Online Board games

Something I’ve really enjoyed doing with friends over group calls is play online versions of board games. You can find pretty much anything online from Chess, Pictionary, Cards Against Humanity, the list goes on. It’s great fun and a nice break from chatting about coronavirus.

Bake/cook

Baking is a brilliant way to pass the time if you’re able to get the ingredients right now, if not then offering to cook for your family, cooking new meals for yourself, making the most out of what you have in the cupboards and getting creative is a brilliant way to practise self-care as well as sustainability.

De-clutter your room

Now is a great opportunity to have a real sort out of your space. Dedicate time to sorting through clothes, products and other items to make room for new things when we’re able to go outside.

Read/Watch films

There’s now no excuse not to dive into the pile of books you bought and never got around to reading or start watching all the classic films you’ve been recommended. As a film fan, I recommend downloading the app Letterboxd and creating a Watchlist to get through. Similar apps for books can also be found- this is a great way of keeping record of things you loved and want to recommend to others.

These are just some things I’ve done that I’ve found work for passing the time well and mixing up my daily routine. Give some a try if you’re struggling for things to do, and hopefully it’ll encourage positive thinking and productivity around Uni work! Remember to keep safe and be kind to yourselves!

Find Your Balance

Both this week’s posts are all about the extracurricular; things you can get involved with when you’re not studying. Getting the right balance between studying and other activities is important and will help you to get the most out of being a Bristol student.

Let’s Talk Sport

Sports are a great way to make new friends. There are over 60 sports club at the University of Bristol – from traditional team sports such as football, rugby and basketball – to the more unusual Quidditch, Korfball and Krav Maga. For those who enjoy non-team sports there is also a range of activities available including martial arts, archery and clay pigeon shooting.

“[During Welcome Week] was also the first time I met some of my best friends when I joined the women’s football club, something that ultimately made my university experience.”

– Amy Brook, Sport and Student Development Officer

If you enjoy fitness or just want to get to the point when Bristol hills won’t leave you breathless (don’t worry, you get used to the hills eventually), our Indoor Sports Centre is the perfect place for you. Located on Tyndall Avenue at the heart of the University campus, the Sports Centre is home to an open plan fitness suite, free weights, fitness studios and a double-court sports hall. Or if you’re a water baby, our swimming pool, located on Queens Road, is home to a variety of clubs such as water polo. You can even do lifesaving lessons as well as pay as you go swimming.

Get stuck in with societies and networks

University gives you the chance to meet new people, experience new things and learn about yourself. Bristol Students’ Union (SU) helps students run over 290 societies from A cappella all the way to the Vegetarian and Vegan Society. There is a society for everyone; and if you think there isn’t a group for you, set one up!

“…I got involved with quite a few societies through the SU and by the end of my degree I sat on 3 committees and made the best friends I could ask for. Starting at uni is really tough, and taking your time settling in and getting involved with everything on offer can really help you in your first couple of months.”

– Jason Palmer, Equality, Liberation & Access Officer

The Bristol SU offers networks too; these enable students to build communities and create change. For example, there is a Postgraduate Network which is a student-led initiative for all postgraduate students that gives you a chance to develop the Bristol postgrad community. There is also the PGR Hub which is run by Bristol Doctoral College, based in Senate House, where you can connect with fellow researchers from other parts of the University.  You can find out more about what’s on offer at our Welcome Fair on the Downs on 27 September.

“I enjoyed the Welcome Week Fair because it gave me an opportunity to meet new people from all over the world and make new friends as well as to register with clubs and societies which I was interested in like African Caribbean Society, Debating Club, East African Society, and Bristol Model United Nations.”

– Julius Muga Ogayo, International Students Officer

If you want to find like-minded students before you move to Bristol and Welcome Week begins, you can also join our Freshers Facebook page.

Look out for our next post later this week with some more ideas of things to do beyond your studies.

Mental Health Awareness Week starts 13 May

University life is full of ups and downs. To help manage these stresses and strains it’s important to be aware of your physical, emotional and mental health and take active steps to look after your wellbeing.  

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 13 – 19 May, a good opportunity to think about how you’re feeling and look at what you can do to look after yourself.

Keep talking

Connect – with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. These relationships can help you to feel happier and safer. Talking about the way you feel with someone you know and trust can ease the pressure. Even if they can’t help, just being listened to is a positive step. In return, if you’re caring and supportive to others you might be making a big difference, simply by listening.

The Bristol SU Living Room is a great place to relax and unwind and there’s a weekly programme of events open to everyone. They’re completely unobtrusive, so if it’s not your thing, you can just come along and chill or have a game of foosball or ping pong.  

If you’d prefer, there are lots of people to talk to at the university or via our resources, from student welfare support, to peer support at the Big White Wall and Just Ask – the Bristol SU’s advice and support service. Visit the ‘Where to get help’ page for more information about the support available to you.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on how we can continue to support the wellbeing of our student community, we’d welcome your input in the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey. You don’t need to have experienced mental health issues to take part. It takes about 15 minutes and is entirely anonymous.

Stay active

Recent graduate and netball superstar, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, shares the benefits of keeping active and why extra-curricular activities will enrich your life.

You don’t need to be a high performance athlete to benefit from staying active, even just a gentle stroll will help; all activity is clinically-proven to improve mental health.

During the summer term (29 April – 15 June), all B:Active Campus sessions on the timetable are completely free so if you haven’t already, why not check out what’s on offer? There are plenty of B:Active initiatives that don’t take up a lot of time or require a membership, specialist equipment, or commitment to training sessions, so do have a look. There’s also the B:Active Healthy Minds programme – tailored to helping students who are experiencing mental health difficulties – which is well worth looking into.

As Eboni says…

“You just need to seek out what it is you want to do, what you can fall in love with, and roll with it.”

Balance study and leisure activities

At this busy time of year, help to maintain a healthy frame of mind by sleeping and eating well, taking regular breaks away from your screen or desk and making time for yourself. Doing something you enjoy can improve your self-confidence and lift your spirits; whether it’s cooking, seeing friends, doing something creative or learning something new. Helping someone else, through volunteering for example, or setting yourself a realistic challenge can help you to feel positive about yourself too.

Bristol SU’s Mind your Head events are running into June and are a great excuse to take a break and try something different. Library services are also offering opportunities to get crafting and creating during the Summer assessment period. 

If you like the theatre, honorary graduate Jonny Benjamin will be performing ‘Stranger on the Bridge‘ – an inspiring tale of human kindness, mental illness and redemption. See this moving portrayal of one man’s determination to find the Good Samaritan who changed his life at the Tobacco Factory, 14 – 18 May.

Study support

Need help with revision? The study support pages provide loads of information about where to find study spaces and how to access useful resources. 

However you’re feeling or whatever you’re up to, remember to take time to look after yourself.

Tis the season to…stay active.

Season’s Greetings from our Sport, Exercise and Health community. You don’t need us to tell you about all the benefits of sport and activity; it’s well known how positive an effect it can have on your mental and physical wellbeing. Although it may be tempting to abandon your usual routine over the holidays, there will also be lots of opportunities to stay active at this time of year. Choose things you enjoy and make it fun! Maybe a long walk with old friends exploring somewhere new? Check out your local exercise options – a short membership somewhere or many parks now have exercise equipment you can use. What could you do as family? Ice skating, anyone?!

For those staying in Bristol, here are the opening hours for the swimming pool, Coombe Dingle and our newly refurbished Indoor Sports Centre.

Why not look into how you can get more involved next term? You could join one of our many sports clubs and societies, start a membership and meet like-minded people, or think about sports leadership and volunteering.   

Here at Bristol, sport and activity are more than just a one-off session; it’s about belonging to a community of students, passionate about living life well.

#TisTheSeason

 

 

 

 

 

World Mental Health Day  

For World Mental Health Day, we’re talking to our students about their experience of mental health and how physical activity and programmes like Healthy Minds has helped them cope with different situations.  

Bethany Hickton is a 25-year-old PhD student in her third year, studying aerospace engineering and cellular and molecular medicine.  

‘It’s pretty intense,’ she says with a laugh. ‘I’d really like to become a chief scientific officer — someone who travels around the world looking at complex scientific issues, and then explains it to government so they can make policy changes.’ 

But her dreams were nearly shattered when she slipped and fell down a flight of steps in her first year.  

‘I’d always been a very hard worker throughout my undergrad and since my A-levels,’ she says. ‘I never stopped, so having to take that time out gave me a lot of anxiety. Also, the fractures were five millimetres from severing my spinal cord. I could have been paralysed from the waist down.’ 

Bethany spent 16 weeks in a spinal brace and, a few months after the fall, she was also diagnosed with clinical depression.  

‘I got PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) coming back onto campus, because that’s where I’d hurt myself. Having to take time out physically really had an impact on me mentally.’ 

Bethany didn’t come from a sporting background and says she’d never have thought of trying sports on her own.  

‘I wasn’t sporty when I was younger – I lived in a small village where there wasn’t a lot of opportunity. People in school also made fun of me about my size, which was difficult to deal with. I really lost confidence, which made me eat more too.’ 

After her fall and her diagnosis, Bethany began seeing a counsellor with the Student Counselling Service where she was referred to the Healthy Minds programme.  

‘They told me about this amazing programme which was all about body confidence and having fun. Pete from Healthy Minds got me to lift weights and, out of nowhere, I was good at it. It was such a joyous moment.’ 

Bethany understands the pressure on young people today to look good, coming from social media, especially platforms like Instagram.  

‘I now judge my body on what it can do, not what it looks like. I can deadlift 80 kilograms, I can walk straight into the weights section of the gym, which used to be full of just guys, in my glittery pink sneakers and I can out-lift lots of them.’ 

She says Healthy Minds helped her to find an activity that really suited her, and she really enjoyed.

‘They helped me take the driving seat on getting healthy. Pete noticed I was good at lifting weights, and he signposted me to the captain of the rugby team.’ She now plays in the women’s rugby team as a  scrum forward.  

What advice would Bethany give new students who have just arrived and are trying to settle in?  

‘Find a group of people that are your people. Try and join different societies – it doesn’t have to be a sporty one, and just try lots of different things. You’ll find the crowd that you can run with.’ 

Express yourself 

Come along to the Indoor Sports Centre tomorrow (Wednesday 10 October) and take part in free exercise classes as well as a workshop with a print artist Annie Nicholson, aka The Fandangoe Kid. 

In 2011, Annie lost her mother and sister in a car crash. ‘Nothing has been the same since. For years I was completely derailed – it was sharing my thoughts in a public space that got me through.’ 

The artist says her public art is also designed to help remove the stigma that still exists around loss, mental health, and happiness.  

Annie will be hosting a workshop for 20 people and will begin by exploring the different concepts of narrative art, and how it can be used to express yourself. There’s even an opportunity for the art you create go on display on campus. 

Places are limited, and booking is essential.