Mind Over Natter
The ‘Mind Over Natter’ talks are a series of lunchtime wellbeing sessions, taking place on regular Wednesdays at 12.45pm. Each session will address a different topic with a different speaker, providing advice and understanding for how students and staff can manage their own wellbeing. Please contact us if you have an idea for one of the sessions or know someone who would keen to run a talk themselves. Wellbeing counsellor, Kathy O’Connor, led the way as our first speaker.
“Learn what works for you and take small steps towards achieving it” – Kathy O’Connor
In this ‘Mind Over Natter’ talk, Kathy looks at the well-known tactics for achieving the mentally and physically healthiest version of ourselves, but addresses why, despite knowing these, we still struggle to apply them. As with any good advice, Kathy provides a couple of anagrams to help us remember simple ways to make wellbeing efforts work.
Come to T.E.R.M.S. with it
Kathy begins with recommending the 5 steps that will help you to look after yourself properly:
Talk Talk to others, don’t internalise your problems
Eat A healthy diet equals a healthy body and mind
Relax Set aside time to properly relax and do something you enjoy
Move Exercise gives you energy and endorphins and reduces stress
Sleep Give your body time to recover with 7 – 9 hours’ sleep each night
Kathy asks the room, after each step, who knows that this is key to a healthy and positive wellbeing: every hand goes up. She then asks us if we put this into practice every day; if we always talk about our problems, always eat well, always get lots of sleep. Unsurprisingly, most of the hands then go down. This is the problem Kathy addresses in her talk with reference to wellbeing. Most of us know what we should be doing to help ourselves, but life frequently gets in the way. Family, work, and time commitments often means that our mental and physical wellbeing gets looked over and pushed aside.
That doesn’t mean it is hopeless or that you shouldn’t even try, and Kathy suggests that achieving your goals comes down to a connection between self-awareness and self-care. If we take time to understand our motives (i.e. for becoming more active) as well as our limitations, then we can take that step closer to our goal.
Small Steps and S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Kathy recommends taking the SMART approach to assigning yourself a goal in order to get the most out of it. Her version of the anagram calls for goals to be:
Adaptive & Achievable,
With regards to these we should be thinking about why we want to achieve the goal we are setting and ensure that we are attempting it for our own reasons rather trying to meet the expectations of others. Kathy advises that in order to get the best out of ourselves we need to question what we want, what makes us happy, and what kind of person we are trying to be.
If a goal is not achievable, it does not mean you have failed, Kathy explains. She encourages people who find that they have hit this wall, to recognise your limitations and dial their goal back to something that is not going to be limited by health issues or strict time constraints. Small steps will be more successful that large, sudden changes.
“Small steps ripple outwards”
If you are looking for ways to begin applying some of Kathy’s tips, she lists a variety of local or virtual options for you. They are perfect ways to put the wellbeing T.E.R.M.S. into practice, offering opportunities for talking to people, mindfulness and exercise, relaxing, and more.
- Students’ Guild Societies and Groups and Students’ Union (e.g. Mind Your Head)
- Staff Life have book groups, crotchet groups, hatha yoga
- Let’s Walk Devon
- Multi-faith chaplaincy team
- NHS and BBC Good Food for healthy eating and living advice
- Mindfulness apps such as Headspace and Calm
- Jubilee walk (downloadable map from the University of Exeter website)
- National Sleep Foundation
- Exeter Community Garden
- University of Exeter library board games