Wellbeing Dates for the Winter Break – Tis the Season to take care of YOU.

By Student Champion: Victoria Cornelio

The coming of the winter break is sadly not the end of term, and with assignments still left to do, it can be hard to forget to enjoy yourself during this time. However, Tis the Season to take your mind off university for a little bit, and I have the perfect “Wellbeing Dates for the Winter Break” to help you. All of these dates are great fun with friends, or for spending quality time with yourself!

Picnic in a Park  

Okay, I know it is freezing out there and the last thing you want is to leave your cozy blankets. However, a sunny day in wet-Bristol during the winter is such a beautiful thing, it would be great if you enjoyed it. This idea works both as a solo-date or with company. Just grab some snacks, drinks, a nice blanket to lie on the grass and a thick blanket to keep you warm and enjoy the sunset or stargazing. My personal favourite places are:

  • Brandon Hill: The slopes make it a perfect place to get a full view of the city below and a nice sunset at the horizon.
  • The Downs: although not great for sunsets always, benefit from the little light pollution in this side of town and enjoy a clear night sky and a vast space to set up a picnic and some nice music.
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge: My ultimate favorite because it has an amazing view of both the sunset and the night sky. The contrast of the stars with the bridge lit up is quite an experience!

Disclaimer: Make sure to dress accordingly to the cold and stay alert and safe as these places tend to be a bit more isolated.

Daytrip

Bristol’s transport links give you endless possibilities to spend a day away. Go to Bath and find some inspo of what to do here, from ice skating to going to various unique museums or catching a comedy or theatre show, there is sure to be something for you to enjoy. Another idea is taking a trip to Cardiff for the day, and exploring the many options the city holds. Look here to book some day trip options, or make your itinerary with activities of your choosing.

Fancy something else? Stay closer to the city and visit Thornbury instead. This little market town, better-known for its castle and parks, is a great getaway from the city and into a little magic town. You can also go to Weston SuperMare on a sunny day and enjoy a nice walk around the city and meal by the beach. Visit some of Weston’s unique museums and get in touch with the history of this coastal city.

Facemasks night (not those ones!)

As with all of these options, feel free to do them with friends or by yourself. I find there is a great feeling on doing your skincare routine with some wine, snacks and then cozy up to binge watch a show or movie. On the other hand, having a social night with friends, and doing your skincare together paired with some old school karaoke – that was my 20th birthday party in a nutshell actually – is also a very fun experience. So whichever idea you vibe most with, head over to Boots, Superdrug, the Body Shop, Lush or get your products online, get snacks and drinks and take the night for some selfcare.

*Disclaimer: make sure to drink responsibly, have a meal before, or switch out wine for your drink of preference (Facemasks and Tea also has a good ring to it) Also, beware that skin types vary and some procedures/products may be harmful to some. *

Personally, this is how my Facemask nights go if it’s of any help:

  1. Start with pouring something nice to drink and using a makeup remover / micellar water to prep your skin.
  2. Then, wash your face with a scrub soap to get all the dirt out of your pores, and rinse with warm water.
  3. Pat-dry your face and apply the first facemask – I like a cleansing mask at this point, to take advantage of your stimulated pores and get all remaining impurities out of the way.
  4. After the time of the mask has passed, most of the time 10 to 15 minutes, wash of the mask with warm water and move on to a nose strip.
  5. Make sure you’ve topped your glass off here and remove your nose strip carefully as to avoid any hurting yourself.
  6. Next, wash your face with soap (any is fine, but if you have one for your face specifically that’s great) or apply toner to liberate your skin from any residual products.
  7. Lastly, put on your night cream or moisturizer (pro-tip water based if you have oily skin), and put on some lip balm or lip moisturizer, and you’re all set to carry on with binge watching or karaoke.

Explore Bristol!

The most obvious in this little guide, but something I recommend strongly, get out of your comfort zone (literally), and explore Bristol. There are many things happening around the city that you might be unaware will be your new favourite pass time.

  1. Walk around Gloucester Road: We all know what it is, but how many of us have actually gone and explored the extents of this street. Best of Bristol have compiled a list of 129 things to do on Gloucester Road, so even if you have been already, you are sure to find something new to try in this compilation.
  2. Have you been to Bedminster? The BS3 postcode is better known for its busy North Street and Windmill Hill City Farm which has Free entrance for everyone. Find other things to do here.
  3. Take the walk to Ashton: Right Now, until the 24th, run over to Ashton Estate and enjoy the beautiful Light Up Bristol Make It a whole day thing, and go play Golf, FootGolf or DiscGolf at Ashton Court for a nice day out around Ashton. Also, make sure to check the activities calendar at Ashton Stadium and maybe catch a game or show.
  4. Enjoy by the Harbourside: Although a great place for drinks and parties, the harbour harbors (I had to make the pun, sorry), some of the best attractions in Bristol. Check out the We the Curious Museum, the M Shed, Bristol Aquarium, and of course, 2018 worst rated spoons in Bristol, the V-Shed.
  5. Step into the past at Avon Valley Railway: This little area feels like an original local country station, perfect for instagrammable pics and enjoying a day out in a restored Victorian old town.

And yeah, I hope you do take my word for it and enjoy some time out and about, making the most of your break. I know with assessments and assignments coming in January, it’s hard to fully let your guard down, but remember to take time off because Tis the Season to take care of you!

Enjoy your Winter Break with these Wellbeing Dates, or any way that helps you disconnect and relax. It is important to stay on top of your mental health and wellbeing first and foremost.

Wellbeing resources

There are lots of resources available to you if you need help over the holidays. Our Winter wellness page has lots of useful information or you can check out the support in the holidays page if you are looking for more advice and University opening times during the break.

Transition to university competition

How are you finding Bristol so far?

Royal Fort House and Gardens in autumn.

We have seen a real mixture of sunshine and rain already this term, but the days are very soon going to get shorter, darker and colder, and for many people, it’s a time of year when we just feel like hibernating! But, before you hide away under the duvet, we want to talk about all the great things that happen in autumn.

For a start, it’s the season to indulge in comfort food – we’re thinking hearty soups, pies, curries and stews… There are also opportunities to get together and celebrate events such as Halloween and bonfire night. Plus, there is still plenty going on in both the university and in the city to help us stay active, keep motivated, meet new people and try out new activities. We’ve got a list of events and resources below to help you keep going, but we’d also love to hear from you about how you stay motivated with the change of season.

Read on to find out how you can share your ideas and be in with a chance of winning a prize.

Competition time!

Over the next four weeks, we will be running a weekly competition based on a seasonal theme. Each one is a chance to let us know how you’re settling into university so far and also to share tips and ideas with others who might still be adjusting to a new routine and way of life. You can email us your answers, or why not get creative with a vlog?

We will post the best responses on our student blog each Friday, and the overall winner for each topic will win a £25 voucher.

Send your answers to student-comms@bristol.ac.uk

  1. Competition one: Daylight saving time
    With the clocks going back this Sunday (31 October) we would love to know what you will do with your extra time. Will you be opting for the extra hour in bed or will you be hitting the gym before your first lecture?

    Competition one is now closed – read the winning entry on our blog.

  2. Competition two: Your pet stories
    Do you have an amazing pet at home? Celebrate your pet, or even just an animal you know that deserves to be recognised! Send us an image of your pet and 100 words about them.

    Competition two is now closed – read the winning entry on our blog.

  3. Competition three: Comfort food. Best recipe for winter days.
    Cooking your favourite foods or food from home can be a great source of comfort in the winter months. What is the recipe that always makes you feel good? Share with us including an image if you can!

    Competition three is now closed – read the winning entry on our blog.

  4. Competition four: Activity that’s kept you going
    What activities have kept you going during this autumn period? Did you join Be Active, start knitting, meditate, learn a new language, go dancing…? Share your stories of what’s helped you ​stay motivated and settle into Bristol life.

    Competition four is now closed – read the winning entry on our blog.

Read the terms and conditions for this competition.

Downs promenade (Clifton) in autumn

Events and resources

Remember, you don’t have to be suffering from the “winter blues” to be feeling a little low. If you need a pick me up then maybe some of the resources below will help:

  • What’s On – listings of events, activities, cultural celebrations and volunteering opportunities within the university
  • Manage homesickness – if you’re missing home then these top tips from Save the Student may help
  • Global Lounge – relax, meet others or attend one of the many events on offer
  • Eat your pumpkin! – seasonal recipes from BBC Good Food
  • Lunchtime Socials – connect, unwind and recharge at the Multifaith Chaplaincy
  • Stay active – see what’s on at the uni sports centre, and read tips from the BBC for keeping going even when it’s cold.
  • Student Wellbeing – self-help resources for managing your wellbeing, as well as details for how to request support
  • The SU Wellbeing Network – find details of student groups and societies which are specifically focused on promoting wellbeing
  • Supporting your Wellbeing Sharepoint – wellbeing resources for PGR students
  • Student Minds – support and resources to manage your own or your friends’ mental health
  • Off The Record – drop-in sessions, projects and services for looking after mental health run by and for young people in Bristol
  • Headspace – free meditations for weathering the storm
  • YouTube – watch videos from University of Bristol students on how they managed their transition to university
  • Go for a walk – Bristol has some great green spaces so go explore and breathe in some fresh air

Food for Mood 4: Three very easy suppers

Our next Food for Mood recipes make a very easy supper (and lunch for the next day) with cheap ingredients that are nutrient dense. This is the fourth of six cook-a-long sessions looking at how we can support our mood with food.

You’re busy with your studies and you don’t have time to prep food or even think about your mood. How about making a three-dish meal in 45 minutes that will feed you twice, plus help keep your energy and motivation topped up. (more…)

Food for Mood 3: How to make healthier snacks

Saba James, the Nutrition for Wellbeing Lead from the National Centre for Integrative Medicine, shares three easy sweeter treats to avoid packaged cereal, chocolate bars and ice creams. This is the third of six cook-a-long sessions looking at how we can support our mood with food.

These healthy snacks include dark chocolate – full of magnesium and antioxidants. Dates, which offer a mellow, caramel sweetness with added fibre and minerals. Nuts, which help maintain stable blood-glucose levels with added protein and healthy unsaturated fats. Bananas, which are dense in fibre, prebiotics plus potassium, folate, vitamin C and lots of antioxidants plus they taste delicious.

Balancing our blood glucose helps stabilise our mood and energy which supports our stamina and focus during periods of revision and intense study. It is also essential to enjoy the sweeter things in life sometimes. (more…)

Food for Mood 2: How to make a healthy grain bowl

In our second Food for Mood cookalong we learnt to make a simple recipe to include more wholegrains into our diet. In-tact whole grains, rather than flour-based and processed grains which dominate the western diet, are brimming with prebiotics that support a healthy microbiome which supports our mood and mental health.

Did you know that our gut microbes also produce some of our happy-hormone serotonin and our calming communicator GABA? Our gut (well, our lower intestines to be more specific) is made up of trillions of microbes that can help or hinder us by the species that dominate and how we feed them. The fibre and prebiotics in in-tact wholegrains feed healthier microbial strains which in-turn feed us with the hormones and neurotransmitters we need for a calmer mood and focused motivation. In-tact wholegrains are not the only feeders we can give our guts, a range of colourful beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit can also do the job – alongside healthy proteins and fats to balance. (more…)

Know your stress signs and ease your exam stress

by Jeongeun Park, Senior Resident

COVID 19 crisis, lockdown, being stuck at home, no parties, social distancing… I know you are already stressed out by the current government’s dos and don’ts. On top, a revision period is coming up and perhaps this makes you even more frustrated. First, it is NORMAL to feel anxious when having exams or essay deadlines to meet. Ok then, you may wonder how to cope with exam-related stress. 

Here are some tips suggested by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) that I find useful to effectively manage my stress level. I know you are a busy person, so I sum up a few important points made.   (more…)

Find your Support

Hi everyone! Khadija here, chair of the BME network, elected by BME students to represent BME students at a university and SU level.

Many students struggle with finding support, and in my role, I particularly find this as an issue for BME students, who often find it difficult to see how to access the university’s services. As such, I’ve become familiar with what is available, and have had some great discussions with the staff behind them already to incorporate the needs of all students, including those from racial and ethnic minorities! How to Find your Support:

1. Student Wellbeing Service

This is your first port of call if you’re struggling, and includes a range of services, from:

Student Wellbeing Advisors, who can help direct you to where you need to go.

TalkCampus app, giving you online peer-support any time of day and night.

– Self-help resources, including the FIKA Covid-19 support app, which is designed to help you learn practical mental and emotional fitness approaches which you can apply to your everyday life.

The Student Counselling Service, including a specific BAME Counselling service run by NILAARI, which the BME Network supported being expanded into the university last year.

– The uni are working with Bristol Drugs Project too and ‘The Drop’ harm reduction service. If you’re thinking about trying drugs or if drug use has become a problem, reach out via email thedrop@bdp.org.uk find them on Instagram above or call 0117 987 6000.

(more…)

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.  

(more…)

University Mental Health Day 2019

In support of University Mental Health Day 2019, we talk to students and staff about how they are using their voice to change the future of mental health at the University and beyond. Discover how you too can make a difference, today and always.


“I will be using my voice as the Student Living Officer at the Bristol Students’ Union to ensure that the University of Bristol commits to its duty of care and offers pastoral support to students of all  backgrounds. If you want to find out more, please check out my blog post launching the student wellbeing health strategy” – Vanessa Wilson, Student Living Officer 

At the University of Bristol your voice is valued, which is why your opinion was at the heart of our Mental Health Strategy. Get involved in the next Mental Health Consultation at the end of March. Use your voice to make a change.


“As part of the Black Dog Project, we use our voice to educate young people on a range of topics to do with mental health. Our aim is, through education, to reduce the stigma often associated with these types of conversations amongst young people.

I think it is important to raise our voice about mental health because everyone has mental health. Children need to learn that it is as important to look after their mental mind as it is to look after their bodies.” – Nina Rabbitt, Black Dog Project President, Third Year Student

Want to get involved? Find out more here. Use your voice to make a change.


“Passionate about driving change in our city, I am organising ‘Project WalkToTalk Bristol’ with a team of students from Bristol Medical School. The aim is to make mental health a conversation amongst young people and bring communities together in a positive way over something we all, no doubt experience. The event also raises money for Off The Record (Bristol), a charity and social movement aiming to empower young people in a sustainable way. Join us on 4th May… Let’s do this, together.” – George Cole, Project WalkToTalk Bristol Organiser, Second Year Student 

Attend the event and help beat the stigma associated with mental health.


“Discussions around mental wellbeing are part of everyday life, they  happen wherever you are.” – Carolyn Jones, Student Wellbeing Adviser in the School of Social Sciences and Law 

You are not on your own. There is always a friendly face and listening ear nearby. Find out what services we have, what they do and how they can help you.

 

 

 


 “The Healthy Minds programme supports students to take positive steps to improve the way they feel through physical activity and sport. We’ve found that students have reported an improvement in their wellbeing through involvement in the scheme.” – Peter Burrows, Physical Activity and Health Development Officer

Exercise is good for your mind, as well as your body, participating in our Healthy Minds programme could not be easier. To find out more watch this short video with Isaac who took part in the scheme, read about how Beth got involved and visit the site.

 


Your voice is powerful, use it to shape the future of mental health, today and always! 

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.