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Colleague Wellbeing Tips

Thank you to everyone for sharing your wellbeing tips. Here are your tips, organised by category.

Additional wellbeing tips can be found on these websites (and many more): Mind, Spectrum Life, NHS and Mental Health Foundation.  

  • Regular exercise with a schedule - the schedule motivates me to follow it and complete the exercise, and I feel so much better after for having worked out.
  • 1 minute stretch every hour. I got this from Richie Norton's book Lift Your Vibe. Every hour you're working at your desk, take 1 minute to stretch your lower back, hip flexors or shoulders. And stand or move around for at least 10 minutes in each hour too.
  • Yoga with Adriene on Youtube - her 30 day programmes really motivate you to do a little bit of yoga every day and you don't need to be a yoga pretzel!
  • Podcasts while walking - I like Grace Dent Comfort Eating, Adam Buxton and old episodes of Desert Island Discs.
  • Walk - Park off campus and walk in, or just walk at lunchtime. It helps refocus your mind on what is important.
  • Going for a mindful walk - even in the middle of the city there are green spaces and I try and focus on noticing which plants are in season. Makes you feel part of something bigger (nature/the changing seasons) and takes your mind off any problems in the moment.
  • Exercise is key for me. I might hate doing it at the time but always feel so much better afterwards.
  • When overwhelmed or stressed: Take yourself on a walk, ideally by a body of water (the sea is best) or through a green space but anywhere outside is good. While walking, don't look at your phone or listen to any music or podcasts. Don't use the walk as a means to running errands or record it as an exercise/work out. Focus on putting one foot in front of another and moving your body forward. Give yourself this time and space to think/reflect/process freely in the fresh air and listen to/take in the world around you. This should help you regain perspective and ease some stress and anxiety, allowing you to make decisions with a clearer mind.
  • Yoga.
  • I've made gradual mini changes that have ended up having a big impact on my health etc. and were easy to implement and remember because they were small. e.g. adding one piece of fruit to my breakfast/ snack, swapping to tea/decaf rather than coffee after 1pm, doing a few semi push-ups against the kitchen worktop whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.
  • Being outside is the best thing for my wellbeing - I always feel much better after going for a walk in the fresh air away from screens.
  • In winter getting out for a walk at lunchtime whatever the weather - I usually don't want to go but never regret it
  • My self care tip when working from home is to step outside the front door and take a big breath of fresh air just before you are about to start a long online meeting or if you are struggling with motivation. Even if it is pouring with rain it helps to actually 'feel' the weather rather then 'view' it from a window!
  • Fresh air! Even on days when I can't go outside because I'm busy, sore, or otherwise prevented from going out for a proper walk, just sitting in front of an open window and listening to the sound of the wind and getting some fresh air really helps me, mentally. It's especially nice in the autumn - nothing better than that post-rain smell!
  • Getting out in to nature!
  • I always feel better when I try to practise small, random acts of kindness: giving someone a compliment, buying someone a coffee, having a quick chat with someone you don't know. It's easy to lose sight of these things in our busy lives.
  • Don't be afraid to be honest with your work colleagues, family or friends. If something is getting you down it's better to get it out in the open instead of keeping it in, you never know someone might relate to your situation. On the flip side give your colleagues a call if you have a moment, especially when working remotely it can be isolating sometimes and hearing another voice to have a conversation with can really pick things up for people.
  • Talk to other people - once you start being open about mental health its amazing how many other people have been through similar situations and are happy to share their stories.
  • If you haven't done this for a while try actively helping someone else, perhaps someone you wouldn't normally think about helping or doing something you wouldn't normally do. And do it with a smile! :-)
  • Just something simple: smile at people. You don't always get one back but when you do it's worth it!
  • Make an effort to be social if you are an introvert, be around people that support you and that understand your strengths/weaknesses.
  • Be open about your weakness only to people that have a general supportive attitude.
  • Be creative and have a sense of playfulness!
  • A creative hobby or pastime is, for me, essential for wellbeing. Making something - be it painting, writing, crafting, knitting, felting, forging, or anything that involves the act of creation - engages your brain and your hands and requires you to wholly commit to something positive, even if only for a little while. Sometimes it's even better if it's something you're not very good at - you can celebrate your small victories and improvements and see a track record of things that you set out to do, and make, and feel good about the fact that, if nothing else, these things exist because you put your mind to it and made them.
  • Make a game out of boring tasks to motivate yourself!
  • Not having emails on my phone.
  • Learning how to say no to manage workload.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Be selective with what you spend your time on (try to search for things that are uplifting and enjoyable).
  • I was clearing out my desktop this morning and found this image which I had come across during one of the lockdowns and it really spoke to me. I think it's a lovely image (endorsed by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Association and National Development Team for Inclusion) and reminds us that in order to feel balanced in our lives, we need to take care of some fundamental basics - namely the segments highlighted in this image. It sort of speaks for itself really. 
  • Spend just 10 minutes a day meditating. Apps like Calm or Headspace are perfect for this. Headspace have a great animated series on Netflix that explains different aspects of meditation and take you through some simple guided ones.
  • Sometimes what happens in a day/ term/ year is out of our control, I have always found that having made various calm and enjoyable 'banks' of activity allow me to draw on them in times of stress or uncontrollable frustrations. Anchoring back to a memory such as watching a sunrise, swimming/ floating in a tranquil sea, a sunrise/ sunset/ moonlight swim or a paddleboarding adventure off the beaten track, provide good currency for me in times of need.

If you are interested in Mindfulness, here are some of the options and resources the University provides:

  • Ask yourself "what would I say to a friend?" to try and improve how you talk to or treat yourself.
  • I use the Blurt Foundation for tips and advice on managing my anxiety and depression - kindness is central to Blurt's mission and their suggestions are always accessible and 'human'.
  • Pick a short, positive phrase to repeat to yourself when your mind starts to spiral/obsess on negative thoughts - remind yourself you're doing well and making progress and that temporary setbacks don't change that.
  • Cut yourself some slack - its ok to have a hard day and it doesn't mean that tomorrow will be hard too. Sometimes a hard day is just a hard day, not a sign of anything more than that.
  • Therapy.
  • Taking mental health days.
  • Make one thing your self care priority and treat it as an appointment that you can't miss perhaps by adding it to your calendar or telling someone else that you plan to it so you're accountable. It can be as small as short walk or having a shower, as practical as taking your lunch break or making that phonecall you've been putting off, or something bigger like taking a trip to visit that friend that makes you feel good/just gets it.
  • Prioritise the basics: sleep hygiene, good food, exercise, doing more of what you love.
  • Have one good thing planned per day - this helps you view things more positively and helps to keep your mood positive.
  • Smile often - even if you don't feel like it sometimes.
  • The NHS provides a great little tool called 'Your Mind Plan', you just need to answer 5 questions and it creates a personalised wellbeing plan for you.