Unlike most other days, Café Coco (next to the Students’ Union) is taken over on a Wednesday afternoon between the hours of four and half past five. Why, you ask? Well, it is this time every week that the Wellbeing Café opens its doors to anyone who may be interested in sitting down to some free hot drinks and friendly conversation.
Run by the Student Wellbeing Service (SWS) and the Student-Led Wellbeing Society, it’s a safe and stress-free environment. A place where anyone can say anything without being judged, no-one will repeat anything outside of the four walls of the Café. Ruth Geddes from the Student Wellbeing Service is always there to welcome you into the café with a smile on her face, along with other members of the SWS.
The Student Wellbeing Service is a dedicated team who you can visit for support with health and wellbeing needs. Their experience dealing with issues such as mental health ensures that the underlying focus of the café is to offer a way to practice leading a happier and healthier life. This is achieved through the organised sessions that the café is structured around.
Each session involves an activity that aims to encourage mindfulness. You might be asking – what exactly is mindfulness? As touched upon in our last issue, it involves being aware of being in the present moment. Activities such as meditation and colouring help to position your focus on your thoughts for a small amount of time. If you find that you need a break from the stress of university life, coming to the Wellbeing Café might be your solution.
One activity that took place at one of the more recent sessions was Doodling for Wellbeing. It may sound simple, but doodling is actually a great creative outlet that can help you to let off steam without you even realising it! It enables us to express anything we want to, or something that we can’t find the words to say. Doodling is something that I’m sure many of us find ourselves doing during those lectures that we may not find the most thrilling, but the cathartic nature that it possesses is very good for our wellbeing. Whether it’s colouring in a pattern, making a picture out of a few short lines, or even just scribbling something random, all can help improve mental health and keep you happy.
We’ve all heard of colouring pictures and patterns to relax, what with the craze surrounding adult colouring books. But if you need something quick and simple – why not try scribble drawings? Just scribble anything down on paper: a line, swirl, a circle or anything else. Then from that, try drawing patterns around and off of what’s on the paper. The finished scribble could be a masterpiece or something that has served as an outlet and will find itself in the bin. In the end, you’ll find that you feel less stressed and worried.
One Mindfulness Activity You Can Try Right Now!
For the daydreamers among us, if you ever find yourself with a moment to spare, why not give this a go? You can write it down on a scrap of paper or simply think about it in a quiet few minutes. Try not to think too hard about what is being asked. Often the less thought about ideas are the best ideas.
- Imagine you have a box in front of you. It has three objects inside. What are these objects?
- Think about the first object. What can it do? What might you use it for?
- Think about the second object. What does it feel it? Does it make any sounds?
- Think about the third object. Does it remind you of anything? Is it an object that exists or one that is a creation of your own imagination?
- Now you have finished, think about whether these objects have any meaning to you. It is okay if they do not. But if they do, take a few minutes to reflect on why they may be important.
If creative outlets don’t work for you, then maybe meditation will be just the thing. At the beginning of October, one of the sessions was Breathe in, breathe out…. It was a short mindfulness activity that had us pay attention to how each part of our body felt over the space of ten minutes. An activity leader came in to talk us through the motions of the meditation practice. It was ten minutes of quiet time to reflect privately on how we responded to this, and by the end of it, each person in the room felt refreshed.
‘Housemates – a match made in housing heaven?’ – November 30th
- Tips on how to get along with your housemates.
- Advice on what to do if things aren’t going so well.
Five Ways to February Festival Launch – December 7th
- Launching the February Wellbeing Festival.
Letter to yourself – December 14th
- Recognising the things we are grateful for.
If the idea of mindfulness-focused activities doesn’t appeal to you, don’t let that put you off. Participating is entirely optional and you can always choose to relax for a chat and a drink for the hour and a half if you would prefer.
Remember, the Wellbeing Café is for everyone, no matter what course you do or what year of university you are in. You can be sure that on a Wednesday at four o’clock there’ll be tea and coffee brewing, as well as several people taking their seats on sofas for a chat and an activity. Come and check it out, you will not be disappointed!