Being well this winter: wellbeing support and resources

A sketch of a woman wearing a hat and scarf

December has arrived: the nights are drawing in, the winter months rapidly approach (yes, that’s right – despite what the gritted roads and frosty mornings might suggest, it’s not even officially winter yet), and the University’s closure over the New Year period looms. Of course, it’s a festive time of the year, with Park Street’s warm streetlights twinkling over the misted traffic and sparkle adorning all the shopfront and café windows.

December is also a colder, darker time of year – and we’re not talking about the earlier sunsets and longer evenings. Mental health and wellbeing have been huge topics on the University’s agenda this year, and it’s a topic that is here to stay. While the media’s attention has been primarily focused on undergraduates and taught student wellbeing, we at the Bristol Doctoral College are thinking about our postgraduate research (PGR) community. We’re taking this December to reflect, regroup, and reach out to our PGRs, and to remind you that there are places you can visit, helplines you can call, and small comforts you can find for both yourself and those around you.

The needs of our PGR students are varied and numerous. This year, we’re trying to offer more activities and events that will help our community feel better supported. Is there an initiative or activity you’d like to see take place? Do you have ideas for how we can run activities to support PGR students? Get in touch with us about it.

Reflect

Distraction proves an easy feat this time of year. Don’t let a busy calendar of teaching duties, experiments to finish, exams to prepare, papers to write, and holiday events to attend stop you from checking in with yourself, your peers and your friends.

  • Take some time out during the day for a quiet break. There are a number of spaces on campus you can visit:
    • The PGR Hub, 1st floor of Senate House, is a neutral space designed to support PGR development and wellbeing
    • The new Bristol SU Living Room, on the 4th floor, is a space specifically designed for all students to “just go and chill”
    • If you are far flung from the central campus, step outside for a brisk walk over your lunch break so you can benefit from a change of scenery
  • Check in with yourself about how you relax. It might feel silly – relaxation is supposed to be easy, right? – but research shows that discovering daily tips and small ideas that work for your lifestyle can have profound effects on how you cope with stress. Check out charity Mind’s resources on relaxation and try a few new techniques out to see what works.
  • When we talk about wellbeing, we don’t often discuss what it specifically means to “be well”. The 5 Ways of Wellbeing are a scientifically-devised, empirically-researched, and useful measure for your mood and how you are feeling. Read more about them through the NHS.
  • Join the BDC for a calming Christmas “crafternoon”: a perfect mindfulness pitstop just before the winter break. Bring a friend, or just drop in – there is no need to book, and we’ll have board games, puzzles, colouring, and crafting for you. 19 December, 12-3pm in the PGR Hub.

Regroup

Gathering information, figuring out positive steps and making movements – no matter how small or gentle they are – towards looking after yourself, or helping someone else look after themselves, takes time and resources. Find out where you can go for help, and what resources are available to you:

Reach out

Need to reach out and talk to someone? A range of helplines, both broad and diagnosis-specific, are listed below:

You can also find information about peer support groups, local activities, and counselling services through the University, within the city of Bristol, and through national agencies and organisations:

 

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