I wanted to do a Tweet Chat to offer some space for care and happy reflection, as I was observing the tremendous challenges facing my higher education friends as the COVID crisis unfolded. I appreciate that when we are feeling low, or are exhausted, it is often difficult to look beyond your immediate situation. What I wanted to share are some activities that I hope can be soothing, fun and energising.
Each of the paragraphs below are linked to the questions we’ll tweet out on Wednesday. You can explore the topics in advance of Wednesday’s chat to get a flavour of the areas covered, or re-visit later if a particular questions interests you. The links will take you to articles, videos of other resources you may find useful.
1. Look for the Tree Sisters meditation called ‘Blossoming Confidence’. I love this one because it asks you to shake your body and make a noise, and it reminds me of how we used to swing around poles and move our bodies with much more freedom when we were children. Go on! Bring out the little you.
2. We know that time in nature is good for our physical and mental wellbeing, and that over the years we become disconnected from the natural world. Being in a green space, or thinking of our favourite tree, can bring us great joy.
Spring at Kew – see the gardens
Why our connection with Nature Matters
3. There are ways in which we can try and relax if we feel stressed during the day, or to help us unwind at the end of a long day or nights work. A few minutes of deep breathing can calm our sympathetic nerves when we are feeling anxious, and with practice, lovely deep belly breaths can help us get to sleep. We can look to herbs to also help us, and chamomile and lavender from our garden have relaxing effects.
The Role of Deep Breathing on Stress
4. Training our minds to think positively or keeping a gratitude diary can help lift our mood. I used to write positive messages I’d had from people on a wall, and kept nice emails from students in a folder. If you found a magic lamp, what would you wish for?
Positive Psychology and Gratitude Interventions
5. Nothing can quite lift or mood or fill us with joy like music. Different instruments reverberate in different parts of our bodies. If you’ve ever experienced a gong bath, you’ll have felt the incredible sensation of being bathed in musical waves. Traditionally it was used as a healing technique and you might find it quite meditative and relaxing.
Dr Viv Rolfe is Head of Herbal Research at Pukka Herbs Ltd. She is passionate about helping people re-connect with nature and understand the important role that plants can play as part of our daily wellbeing. She partners with universities to conduct research on the biological activities of herbs, and the area that brings her most joy, is working with students through internships, PhD studentships, and by co-supervising Masters and undergraduate projects.
She was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2011 whilst at De Montfort University in reflection of her work on science open educational resources (OER). She still directs the three websites sharing resource on laboratory skills, sickle cell anaemia and other biology subjects, which are well used by learners around the globe. Her last project in academia was UK Open Textbooks funded by the Hewett Foundation in which she worked with the Open University Institute of Education Technology group led by Professor Martin Weller, and she co-chaired the 2018 OER Conference in Bristol with David Kernohan which was entitled “Open to All”.
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