Making the most of your Christmas break

christmas blog imageChristmas is coming, the end of term is fast approaching. When you look back on how you’ve been this Autumn Term, are there any changes you’d like to make for the rest of the academic year to come – your approach to studies; attitude to friends; way of socialising ….?  The holiday break could be your opportunity to start doing something differently.

Feeling exhausted?Let go of stress about your studies, decide to give yourself the break you need. Recharge your study batteries by giving yourself time to relax. This’ll help you face the Spring Term with renewed energy and enthusiasm.


The Chaplaincy centre on the  Whiteknights campus, near to Park House and behind the main Library

Nowhere to go for Christmas? The Chaplaincy Centre has a list of various activities happening locally during the holiday period, and offers a proper English Christmas lunch on 25th December – find company, and perhaps someone to hang out with on another day, too.

Missed deadlines? This could be the time to catch up on reading you’ve missed during the term, so you can return feeling on top of your work. If you’re going home, could you ask someone there to help you schedule in some study time? If you’re staying in Reading, how about booking a Study Advice appointment, during this quiet period?

Feel like volunteering?Helping someone else is a great feeling, and lots of charities are looking for extra volunteering staff at this time of year. A good addition to your c.v. too.

Lost touch with important people? Special people in your life are likely to understand how busy you’ve been at uni. How about setting aside time to re-connect properly, and letting them know how much you value them.

student chopping up food for christmas blogWish you’d been eating more healthily? Time to learn to cook? Can you ask a friend or relative for some simple but attractive recipes? Do you want to branch out next term and try cooking dishes from a different culture? Put a recipe book on your wish list and pave the way to a healthier you!

What is this mysterious thing called Mindfulness ?

So, you’ve heard this word ‘Mindfulness’ a zillion times now and are curious about what it actually is and whether it might be something that can help you get through the stressful moments that inevitably happen during your life at University.

being 'mindfull' in the Harris Garden

Well here are the basics :

Mindfulness has its origins in the Eastern traditions of Buddhism but refers to a secular practice of meditations and relaxation exercises. Mindfulness means quite simply being aware of what you are experiencing in the moment as opposed to the mindlessness with which we ordinarily approach the day! How many of us run from one task to the next never really concentrating on the actual moment but thinking ahead or behind of us, maybe multitasking and not really listening to each other or to our own experience of the moment. If you recognise yourself in this description then Mindfulness may help.

So how can it help me ?

People who practice mindfulness regularly, even for a short time each day notice the following benefits :

  • Less anxiety
  • Less depressed
  • Better memory and concentration and
  • Less easily upset by everyday things that go wrong
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Better problem solving skills improved immune system so fewer bugs!

mindfulness photo buildingBut I haven’t got time to practice relaxing and awareness …..

Well of course you do have a lot of things to balance whilst at University, studying, making new friends, learning new skills, looking after your own finances, eating healthily and getting used to independent living away from home. However putting a small bit of time aside each day, maybe 5 minutes, can benefit you in the longer term and help you to manage all the other things a bit easier.

So how do I find out more?  Mindfulness photo view out of window

Well there are lots of free resources on line that enable you to listen to a mindfulness meditation in your own time at home, for eg:  or  and if you just put mindfulness into a search you are bound to be able to check out other options you may prefer.

There is also a ‘Life Tools Talk’ on Wednesday 18th November at 1.00pm in Palmer Building room 103 – “ An Introduction to Mindfulness Part 2-Keeping Going”. ( Don’t worry if you didn’t attend part one, it doesn’t matter – you can still come along and find out more.)

Choosing your student house

If you’re a First year, you may already be thinking it’s time to choose who you want to live with, and where. You probably know some people much better than others. Will you choose to share with people from your course, or this year’s flatmates? Perhaps you’d prefer a big house, or a smaller one, or staying in halls sounds appealing.students in kitchen small

Although it may feel urgent to get out there and find a good place before they all get snapped up, it’s sensible to think hard before deciding who you’re going to be sharing with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sharing a bathroom, kitchen and the bills is bound to cause some tension before you all get used to each other’s lifestyles. But having your own place is fun too! Make sure you discuss some house rules – whatever’s important to you – before you even view a property. That way you can find out whose lifestyles are similar to your own.

Think about setting up a way of dividing the bills fairly, like the app where you and your housemates can see who’s paid for what, and what you owe each other. This takes away the scenario of heated arguments over money – important when you’re on a student budget.

You may have found the love of your life at uni, and want to jump at the opportunity to live with her/him. It might be an idea instead to find separate places nearby, so you can see each other as often as you want, while still having a personal space when you need it. student revising

During the revision period and exams it’s difficult not to be distracted if your girlfriend/boyfriend is constantly around and not necessarily taking exams on the same days.

So before you sign any contracts or agree to share, why not go long to the Life Tools talk on House Sharing:  how to make it work on Wednesday 11 November, at 2.00pm in Carrington 101.  lifetoolslogo

Take a trip into RUSU or look online at and see what’s available, and how to get started. RUSU and Student Wellbeing both have helpful leaflets on every aspect of looking for a house, what to check for when you’re viewing a place, dealing with the landlord/landlady, getting to grips with bills, and more.