Making time to talk

Did you know that up to one in four of us might experience some form of mental health difficulty in our lifetime? Yet, whilst we happily regale others with details of our colds, allergies, bowel movements or physical aches and pains, many of us are reluctant to even hint at any mental health difficulty.

Hopefully things are starting to shift, and we can all start to feel more comfortable about admitting to lecturers that we experience anxiety when delivering presentations, or sharing with employers that we find the winters particularly difficult because of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  However, it is an undeniable reality that there is still stigma around mental health problems.

Whilst not suggesting that we all suddenly don personal billboards stating we have depression/anxiety/bi-polar disorder etc, there are small steps that we can all take to start making it easier to have a conversation about our collective mental health.  If you think about it, one in four people means that three in four people know someone with a mental health problem.  That’s someone in your lecture hall, someone in your house, someone you work with….someone in your family.

So what can you do to start this conversation?

  • Ask someone how they (really) are…and wait to hear the answer;
  • If you notice someone is less upbeat than usual, suggest doing something together;
  • Ping someone you care about a text to show you’re thinking of them;
  • Make someone a cuppa;
  • Do the washing up / tidying / shopping, without being asked, to show that you care.

time to change

Time to Talk Day is Thursday 4th February 2016 – do one small thing; make a difference.

bird graphic for tweets#smallthings

January’s Promises to Self!

January the 1st is, for the Western World, the beginning of a New Year and an opportunity to review events and achievements from the past year and to plan how we would like this year to go. How many of us have made promises to ourselves in the past only to find that we were not able to keep them for very long at all! This is called “being human” so we have all done this at some point.

Returning to University, lectures, seminars and deadlines can feel a bit harder in winter due to the well- known tendency to Hibernate like bears or dormice during the colder, darker weeks of the Christmas break.  Here are some ideas to help get your motivation up and running again:

Mindful Decluttering
A tidy space to live and study in helps you to focus more effectively and once it’s done you will use far less time on looking for lost things and having distracting thoughts about needing to tidy up. Perhaps your living space could do with a bit of rearranging so that you have clear study and living areas? The Chinese art of Feng Sui teaches us that you can increase positive harmonious effects by having clear energy paths in our environment thus decluttering the mind at the same time.

working in a tidy living space can make a real difference

working in a tidy living space can make a real difference

Study Habits
We can all get into some pretty stuck habits sometimes and this can apply to studying too. Do you have some study habits that need a bit of a shake up? Things like leaving writing up until the last minute? Or maybe you have that habit of trying to study throughout the night and then feeling exhausted for days afterwards? Would a change of scenery help the creative process, maybe finding a different place to study will give you a different outlook?

Healthy Eating
The winter period, previously referred to as Hibernation, can be a time when it’s tempting to eat more unhealthy foods such as snacks, cake and chocolates. Each food we eat has a different effect on our mind as well as body and so trying to switch back to brain foods such as oily fish, whole grain rice and breads and fruits such as blueberries and blackberries can help you feel mentally and physically energised. Maybe agree with some flatmates that you will cook interesting and healthy meals together a couple of times a week?


Too much or too little? Maybe you have always wanted to join a particular club or group but something has got in the way or held you back, perhaps now could be a good opportunity to give it a go. You will never know if it’s for you if you don’t give it a try. Or perhaps you have the opposite problem, being easily derailed from essential tasks by the lure of the night out! Easily done we know. Perhaps this term is the time to be selective in the options you take up. You might enjoy the events even more if you know you have done all the other things you need to as well.

Just some suggestions for promises to Self, no one has to know unless you want them too ! Spring is approaching, the days will get longer and all hibernators can emerge refreshed and energised for the new year !New Term Promises to self picture

‘Hygge’ yourself…

What’s ‘Hygge’?

evening street with lights resized

This is the time of the year when it often feels grey and cold

Hygge, pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, is a Danish word which in translation refers to the concept of ‘cosiness of the soul’.   And they should know, Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world (World Happiness Report 2015).
Around this time of year, as the nights draw in and it becomes colder and greyer, it’s a really good excuse for us to wrap up, keep warm and cosy.

These things can be good for our wellbeing. Instead of feeling low about the lack of sun, feel grateful that you can make a nutritious home-made soup (see recipe below), and snuggle under a blanket in the evening with a good book or box set.  Share your soup or hot chocolate with some friends and enjoy a card game or just chat.

take time to share a hot drink with friends or  just have a chat

take time to share a hot drink with friends or just have a chat


There is a vintage feel about Hygge, taking us back to a time when people would sit in front of the fire in winter, telling stories and eating cinnamon pastries. We can create the same soothing effect with fairy lights and nice cup of tea.
So get on your old woolly jumper, fluffy socks and snuggle up…ahhhhhh.


Hygge Soup
A simple soup that takes 20 mins to prepare and can be frozen and stored for up to 3 months.

1 Medium Onion Chopped
2 Carrots Peeled and chopped into 1 cm dice
4-5 Large Florets of Cauliflower chopped into small bite size pieces
4-5 Large Florets of Broccoli chopped into small bite size pieces
1 Large Potato peeled and chopped into 2cm dice
1 Handful Frozen Peas
1 Vegetable stock cube
1 Kettle of boiling water
15ml oil

1) In a saucepan on a gentle heat add the oil then add the chopped onion and carrot, and stir for 3-4 mins trying not to colour them in the oil.
2) Add the cauliflower and continue to stir.
3) Add the stock cube, and stir for 30 secs then add 500 ml of the boiling water, so the veg in the pan are just covered.
4) Simmer for 5-10 mins
5) Add the Potato and simmer for a further 5 mins, add more water if required to keep all the contents just covered.
6) Add the Broccoli and Peas and simmer for a further 5 mins, again add water if required.
7) Once all the veg are tender (sample a piece of each), remove from the heat.
8) Check the broth for seasoning, do not add salt before this point, and always taste first as stock cubes are naturally salty
9) Spoon into a bowl and add a sprinkle of grated cheese (optional)