PROJECT:TALK Bristol – connecting our community in the COVID-19 pandemic

PROJECT:TALK Bristol have a mission to change the way Bristol views mental health by pioneering mental fitness. Below, members of the team tell their story of setting up PROJECT:TALK and their work to support students at Bristol during the pandemic.

PROJECT:TALK logo and committee members

George, PROJECT:TALK CIC’s co-founder and Bristol Society’s current co-president, explains how it all started

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A Mental Marathon

This post was written by the Founder and Director of PROJECT:TALK CIC, George Cole. George is also a fourth year medical student at University of Bristol. 

Right, stop what you’re doing. Now, get up and run. No, don’t complain, just do it! You haven’t got a choice. Keep running until you’re told to stop.

Oh, and whilst you’re running, make sure you don’t let anything slip, ok? What do you mean you can’t carry on doing your day job as effectively as usual! Find a way! Pathetic.

If this seems a bit of an obscure and unpleasant situation to you, then you’re not alone. You could think of the COVID-19 pandemic a little like this – being plunged into uncertainty, no choice in the matter, completely unprepared and unfamiliar. A mental marathon.

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Get ahead of worries this World Mental Health Day

Written by Dr Dominique Thompson

Starting university is always a big moment in life, but in 2020 it’s going to be a historic moment too. Living in a new institution, perhaps a new city, in a global pandemic certainly adds an edge to the whole process.  

So if you are feeling a little stressed (which would be entirely normal) help is at hand and you may find the new, free, online course that I helped to create, ‘Being Well Living Well’, very useful indeed.  

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How our community are being kind during lockdown

Every May we in the United Kingdom celebrate and observe Mental Health Awareness Week. It is a chance to raise awareness of mental health problems and the importance of taking care of ourselves. It is an opportunity to inspire action, share experiences, and end the stigma that still surrounds mental health.

This year’s theme is kindness. Being kind to ourselves, being kind to others and being kind to our communities and planet.

 

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Mental health in lockdown

The world feels very strange at the moment, and undoubtedly the uncertainty about the length of the lockdown, our health and that of our loved ones, access to pasta and toilet paper etc., is cause for anxiety. 

Here are some tips and tricks that may ease or help you manage your worries during this time.   

Meditate

Mediation may bring forth images of incense sticks, swaths of tie-dye and people chanting. This is sometimes the case. But meditation, in essence, is simply a practise where through mindfulness or focusing on a particular thought, to achieve a calm and stable mindset. 

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24/7 wellbeing services available for those in need of support

In these strange and uncertain times, it’s understandable that many of you will be feeling anxious, sad or even a little bit scared, which can be tough to say out loud. Don’t forget that there are many support services out there for you, with some offering a listening ear 24/7. 

TalkCampus 

TalkCampus is here if you need someone to talk to, about anything, anywhere, at anytime. The app enables you to message fellow students from all over the world, day and night. You can share your worries and thoughts with those going through the exact same struggles as you. 

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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. (more…)

Self-Isolation: A final year’s guide to coping

Hello everyone, my name is Kiki and I’m a final year student at UOB. I’m writing this blog to reach out to students during isolation. I am sure that this is a very anxious and stressful time for many of you. Being a final year student, my whole education has been turned upside down and I have no choice but to try and respond to it in the calmest way possible.

I am sure many of you will have heard a lot of advice on ways to stay sane, so I have included general advice at the end for anyone interested. I’m hoping however, that if you’re reading this, you’ll gain an insight into something that may help you during these incredibly challenging times as these are some of the methods that are helping me to remain positive and calm.

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5 books to get you through isolation

Hi I’m Jini and I’m a first year English student.

As we all know, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I’m sure we’ve all heard it a million times by now but just as a reminder, in keeping with NHS guidelines, it is imperative that we all, young and old, practice social distancing, self isolation and quarantining where necessary in order to stop the spread of this virus and return back to our normal lives as soon as possible. But of course doing the right thing isn’t always easy and staying indoors for such a long period of time can be very hard for most of us. With most schools out for the term, we’ve got a lot of free time on our hands, a great period to reflect on the year so far, pick up a new hobby, connect with our friends and family…. At this time it’s really important that we try to come up with fun, innovative ways to keep busy, keep healthy and keep active while also getting the sufficient amounts of rest I’m sure we all need.

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How to look after your wellbeing during isolation

We understand that the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is extremely worrying. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and that’s why we have put together a few self-care tips for you during this time. 


Look after yourself 

Whilst staying at home, it is important that you take care of yourself and try to remain as healthy as possible: 

  • Try to maintain a routine and avoid sleeping too much. 
  • Exercise daily if you are feeling well enough – there are many home workouts available online, including these from Les Mills which are free for University Sports Centre members. 
  • Try and get some fresh air outside if you are able to. 
  • Stay hydrated and eat well. BBC Good Food have many recipe ideas. 
  • Avoid ‘fake news’ about the current situation. Instead keep up to date via our webpage, Public Health England and the NHS. 
  • If social media is making you feel anxious, take a break from it. 
  • Keep your room and home clean and tidy. A clutter free environment can help towards a healthy mind. 

Supporting those around you 

We can make a big difference by supporting the people around us and showing solidarity with our community: 

  • Check your phone list and see if there’s someone you have been meaning to catch up with for a while. Now could be the time to reach out to them. 
  • Treat everyone with empathy and compassion and come together to look out for others. 


Social distancing doesn’t mean you cannot be social  

Whether you are currently in Bristol or at home, it is really important that you keep in contact with family and friends to stay positive. Here are a few ideas for you: 

  • Video call friends and/or family (e.g. during meal times so you can eat together). 
  • Netflix party is a new way for you to watch series and films with loved ones. 
  • Create a joint playlist which you can listen to with friends at the same time. 
  • Join Facebook community groups for your local area and the SU’s online Living Room.
  • Follow Government guidance about social distancing – when this is all over, there will be time to get together. 


Wellbeing support 

If you need some support, here are a few resources: 

  • If you are worried about your studies or you feel you need help managing these changes, please contact our Wellbeing teams or email coronavirus-student@bristol.ac.uk. 
  • Talk Campus is an app which enables you to speak with fellow students from around the world for instant support day and night. 
  • Big White Wall is a digital support service you can access 24/7 and talk to others anonymously. 
  • Shout (crisis messenger) offers free mental health support. Text Bristol to 85258 to be connected to a trained volunteer. 
  • Mind have lots of useful tips if you are feeling anxious. 
  • Nilaari is a culturally appropriate counselling service providing help and support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people.

Keep up to date 

Would you like to share your tips for self-isolation? Have you got a stay at home goal? Know any tips for exercising in small spaces? Got great recipes for tinned food? We would love to hear from you! Get in contact at student-comms@bristol.ac.uk and you could feature in our next blog.