Top tips for
improving
your wellbeing

We've put together some advice to help when things get too much.

Whether you're having trouble sleeping, not able to focus properly or dealing with stress, we hope these top tips will remind you to look after yourself and tackle each problem gradually to find solutions.

Our top tips

Managing sleep

1. Make sure the environment is right

Think about comfort, light, temperature and noise levels.

2. Have a regular routine

Go to bed when you are tired and get up at the same time every day. Napping or staying in bed for longer may impact on your sleep the following night.

3. De-stress before bed

Have a cool or warm shower or bath (not hot), download and listen to something relaxing and take time out from other activities before trying to sleep. Don't read, watch TV or use a smartphone in bed – do listen to this podcast from Mental Health Foundation.

4. Don't eat late

Spicy, high fat and sugary foods in particular will make it more difficult to sleep.

5. Exercise

Tiring your body as well as your mind will improve sleep and fit people generally sleep better. However, you should avoid exercising too late at night.

6. Don't stay in bed if you can't sleep

Worrying about not sleeping tends to make the problem worse. Get up and go through your relaxation routines again.

7. Visualise a scene or landscape that has pleasant memories for you

Stop any unwanted thoughts and focus your mind on the scene or landscape.

8. Keep a sleep diary

This can help you identify potential causes for your sleeplessness. View sleep diary.

9. Use apps

There are likely to be a number of useful Apps available to help relax you or to monitor your sleep.

A student lying on grass relaxing

Remote learning

When working from home, it can be hard to keep yourself focused on one thing at a time.

1. Stay motivated

It can be easy to get distracted when working from home but there’s lots of things you can do to stay motivated. Stick to your study plan and try and keep to the same schedule that you would normally. If you have a 9am lecture that is now online, make sure you still “attend”. If you would usually spend some time in the Library after this, you can still use this time to study and work especially as many of the resources within the Library are accessible online.

2. Communicate

Communication is vital. Make sure you are having regular conversations with your personal and module tutors. Ask them for help with anything you are unsure of and ensure you understand any changes in your submission details.

3. If you can, create a dedicated study space

Having a separate space for studying and relaxing is very helpful, if possible. Now that teaching is remote and you have to learn at home, it’s important to create that separation wherever you can and make sure your study space works for you. If you can’t create your own space, using shared tables and spaces are the only option – we know you’re adaptable. Try and be organised and keep your materials together; pack and unpack them into a basket or bag. Have easy access to everything you need before you start. Experiment with lighting and adjust your study space to the ideal temperature. Layers of clothing are good as it gets chilly when only using brain power.

4. Reward yourself and stay connected

No one can work 24/7! Take regular breaks and remember to reward yourself for completing tasks. It’s also important to stay connected with your friends and family in a way that benefits the health and wellbeing of everyone.

Here’s a list of things you CAN do whilst maintaining social distancing:

5. Make sure you know what support is available

Whilst it’s important to look after your physical health and maintain social distancing, your mental health is just as important. Remaining indoors and away from people can be difficult but we’re here for you.

A student working on her fashion and textiles project

Setting and achieving goals

As you’re now studying remotely, you may feel out of control as you’re dependent on tech, wifi and online resources.

Coaching can help you take control of the situation, so ask yourself the following as you start this week - "What are the key challenges I face this week in my studying?"

The following coaching questions can help you to manage each challenge. Writing down your answers can help you to step back and be objective about each one. So, for each challenge:

1. What’s the current situation?

Be honest, it’s the only way to deal with it.

2. What is the goal?

Where would I like to be with this challenge by... Friday? Next week? After Easter?

3. What are my options in working towards this goal?

Write them down, it makes them concrete. And write down all the ones you can think of, including the ones you know you won’t/can’t pursue or that seem impossible.

4. Which ones can I do?

You might need to ask for some help to make some of them happen. Is there a ‘wish’ option - the one you would like best (in the current circumstances) but think isn’t possible? Might it be possible? Partly possible?

5. What exactly will I do to work towards this challenge this week?

Write down the actions for each day. Make sure you get help where you need it, and see how much closer your goals are by the end of the week.

Your studying now will involve some compromise. You might not get as much work done as you would like. But progress is progress, no matter how small. Keep taking steps every day towards your goals.

A student sits reading a publication

Time management

If you are working while you study, or fitting your studies around family life, you may already know that the secret to success is good planning.

Time management is about deciding what you need to accomplish and how much time you have available to do so.

Each of us is unique so you need to find which techniques work best to help you manage your own time effectively.

1. Decide what needs to be done

Think about what you need to complete and any other commitments you have.

2. Make a list in order of importance

Consider hand-in dates, assignment deadlines and order of difficulty.

3. Breakdown larger tasks into smaller stages

Try and estimate how long each stage will take.

4. Look at your timetable and allocate each task with a time slot

Daily and weekly planners are helpful.

Remember, how much you do depends on how much time you have available. Be realistic, make a timetable, and be flexible and ready to adapt your plans to accommodate change.

A mature student cycles through a park

Staying motivated

We have a lot of online students and most of them agree that a significant challenge of studying online is maintaining motivation.

It is easy to become distracted or discouraged when working remotely and you'll need to find techniques which work for you.

Here are some useful tips to help you to stay focused and motivated for the journey ahead.

1. Connect with your peers

Make an effort to keep in touch and get to know other students on your course.

Make the most of the discussion forums and opportunities for online collaboration. Your friends will appreciate having someone to keep them on track and you'll benefit from their support.

2. Discuss what you learn

Talk about your studies and let friends and family know what's going on in your sessions.

Talking it through and telling others about the materials you are studying will help you understand the content better. Saying it out loud can be a useful way to reinforce the topics you are studying.

3. Monitor your progress

Don’t rely on university staff to help you keep track of your progress; design your own map of completed activities and post it somewhere that is visible everyday. It’s great to see your goals completed one step at a time. When times are challenging you can return to this to see how far you’ve come.

4. Reward yourself

As you start to complete course related activities, set yourself little breaks or rewards. This could be a check-in with friends and family, some new clothing or even time out watching a good film. Setting up a reward system may help you give yourself that extra push you need to succeed!

5. Make time for fun

It’s essential that you make sure you factor in some down time. If you’re juggling work, childcare arrangements and study every moment of your week, without any time out, you’ll quickly begin to flag.

Don't worry if you're running out of motivation, it happens to all of us occasionally! If it happens to you, try to understand what is causing you to feel like this.

First, make sure you're getting enough sleep, good food, exercise and relaxation, as the first thing we can lose when we feel overworked or ill is our motivation.

Next, work out whether an external factor such as finance or family issues are affecting your motivation, consider where you can get help and decide on the action you can take to improve the situation.

A student stretching on a running track

Managing stress

We will all experience stress at some point in our lives, and the accompanying adrenaline rush can help us through difficult situations.

Over a sustained period, mild stress can result in unsettling feelings of anxiety or fear. Symptoms can include "butterflies" in the stomach, trembling, palpitations or difficulty sleeping (insomnia). While these feelings might be merely unpleasant, you need to take action because more severe anxiety can be debilitating.

1. View it as something positive

Anxiety is a sign that you’re moving out of your comfort zone into a new place of growth and excitement. So adopt the viewpoint that feelings of anxiety indicate that you are moving and growing. It’s not something to be feared, it’s something that’s helping you move closer towards your goals.

2. Focus on managing these feelings

Anxiety and depression can quite often leave people incapacitated with the thoughts of what they ‘should be doing’ and quite often doing nothing. It can make you think irrationally, as is the nature of anxiety. Focusing on basic anxiety techniques can often help reduce these feelings.

3. Get up and get moving

One of the best things you can do is to get your body moving. Take a quick walk around the estate or go to the park, as long as you maintain social distancing! Moderate exercise will release chemicals which make you feel good.

4. Take responsibility for yourself

If you feel anxious, it’s a sign from yourself that something is not right. It might be something real, or something feared. Whichever it is, take the steps to work on it or manage it as soon as possible. If you need a break, take one. If you need to call a friend, do it. If you need quiet time, plan it.

5. Try breathing exercises to relax

When we are anxious we tend to over breathe. This can cause dizziness, which in turn increases our anxiety. Try: