Staff and students share their 'power of small'

Published by  Communications

On 3rd Feb 2021

Collage of student and staff photos.

Time to Talk Day is this week (4 February) and this year it's all about celebrating the power of small. Whether that’s chatting with a family member how they have been feeling during your permitted walk, or asking a colleague or friend whether they have been taking breaks during the day when working or studying. A small conversation about wellbeing and mental health has the power to make a big difference. 

Time to Talk day is organised by Time to Change, a social movement working to change the way we all think and act about wellbeing and mental health, combatting isolation and ending stigma. 

To mark Time to Talk Day, staff and students have been sharing the small things they have been doing to boost their wellbeing during the latest lockdown with the hope of inspiring others. Everything from flower-arranging to journaling and taking time to check in with children who are home-schooling.  

Eylem Atakav, Professor of Film, Gender & Public Engagement

“During lunch times or at the end of the day, I try joining in exercise classes run freely and online by one of my good friends, who normally teaches classes at Sportspark. It is ‘me time’ and I can switch off from work.” 

Giuditta Gardner, Student Talking Therapist

“I have recently decided to learn how to look after plants properly (which I was always a bit scared of!) with the aim of having lots of real plants to bring fresh energy to the home.” 

Emily, third year English Literature student 

“I have bullet journal breaks which is a great opportunity to put some time aside to embrace your creativity, whether that be through journaling or just participating in the fortnightly craft activities.” 

David Richardson, Vice-Chancellor

“I have recently started blocking out a full hour in the middle of the day for a walk. I don’t always manage it but getting outside for some fresh air, seeing the sky, noticing what is happening in nature really helps me feel more positive and have a renewed focus when I get back to work. Seeing the snowdrops emerge and buds on trees at this time of year is a real boost even when the days are short.” 

Claire Harper, Student Sport & Physical Activity Development Co-ordinator

“I try and go for walks every day, which can be really hard to motivate yourself to do especially with the current winter weather hitting us hard. To make walks a bit more exciting I get a good podcast lined up. uea+sport are running weekly scavenger hunts from 1 February which gives you a fun activity to complete while getting those steps in!” 

Helena, second year Biochemistry student 

“I love making things generally, but particularly love cooking and baking. I can focus all my thoughts on the thing I'm making, cooking is a really useful distraction if I'm having a bad day. It also helps that the end result is usually delicious!” 

Steve Smith, Associate Professor in Nursing Sciences  

“I have an allocated time to chat with wider family on WhatsApp and have got to know relatives who I only used to see formally and say hello to briefly at weddings and funerals. Now we chat about all sorts.” 

Sarah Barrow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Humanities  

“Change of perspective is so important, however minor. Since the start of the latest lockdown, which like many I've found really tough, I've made a big effort to reorganise the diary and get outside during daylight hours for a half hour walk round the block - trying to notice a different small detail on the route every time.” 

Toby, third year History student  

“I go for a walk, managing to change where I am for a bit, getting outside into the fresh air is really lovely. It's good for refreshing me while I work or just letting me process how I'm feeling at the time.” 

Kit Rackley, NEACO Higher Education Champion

“Stepping away from the screen regularly just a few minutes to stretch, make a cup of tea, or even check-in on my eldest getting on with their school work has been key for me. Especially the latter, really taking an interest and showing joy in what they are doing is a real boost!” 

Sharon Weekley, Administration Manager

“I write in my journal every day, especially around what I’m grateful for, which has been brilliant. I bought a gorgeous coloured book and I just write in it every day. It’s so easy to think you’re having a bad week because you have a bad afternoon in meetings and it colours your perception. Looking back at the journal makes you realise it’s only a blip in an otherwise great week.” 

Ana, second year Psychology student  

“I usually make sure to read a little bit everyday just to make sure I disconnect from my work. I also started journaling recently and it helps putting my thoughts in order so much.” 

Chris Jones, Lecturer in History

“I like to hang out and chat with my mates over a multiplayer game whilst drinking a big mug of tea. I am currently doing a very poorly on Star Wars: Battlefront II and Deep Rock Galactic.” 

Sophie Jackson, Catering and Hospitality Administrator,

“I always have flowers dotted around at home. I love the colours, fragrance and shapes within different varieties. They make me feel happy and brighten up my day which I think is important especially during these tough times. My favourite flowers are Peonies! I saw this particular idea on the internet which inspired me to make my own. I was very pleased with the outcome!” 

Rose, third year English literature and Creative Writing student  

“I've taken up baking which I find relaxing and a good way to get a sense of achievement. It's also really nice to share what I've made.” 

Lisa Williams, Assistant Registrar 

“I’ve taken to tuning into livestream online events with my Mum who lives on her own, the other side of the country - and realise it’s a great to way to connect and go to events we might not normally manage together. We chat by text or email during the show and call each other afterwards to discuss.” 

Jonny Slater, Communications Intern

“I’m trying baking because it’s something a little out of my comfort zone and therefore I’ll be learning something new. I’ve found it’s easy to slip into a repetitive routine during lockdown, doing the same things over again like going for walks and things can become a little monotonous. I enjoy cooking, so I think baking will be something that’s up my street. Hopefully I’ll create something that’s edible and can be enjoyed by my family.” 


Student wellbeing support 

Student Services have been providing support to UEA students throughout the pandemic. All appointments are being held over telephone, video call or email, meaning you can access support wherever you are. To access wellbeing support: 

  • Complete and return the online referral form  

  • To access Talking Therapies, please visit their webpage for more information on the service and to access their referral form  

UEA students have access to Health Assured, a 24/7 programme to help you deal with personal and professional issues that could be affecting your studies, home or work life, health and general wellbeing. You can access support via their 24/7 telephone helpline (0800 028 0199) – depending on the nature of your issue, your call will be handled by an experienced advisor or fully qualified therapist. You can also access their online portal or app – login details are available on My UEA.  

Students who are isolating can find practical support on the NHS website.

Staff wellbeing support 

The Counselling Service offers a confidential self-referral service to staff who might be looking for assistance with personal or work related problems. To access support, please complete the referral form on the UEA Staff Counselling page on My UEA.  

Health Assured, in partnership with UEA, provides you with access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), to help you deal with personal and professional issues that could be affecting your home life or work life, health and general wellbeing. Depending on the nature of your issue, your call will be handled by an experienced advisor or fully qualified therapist. This free, confidential 24/7 telephone helpline (0800 028 0199) is an employee benefit available to you, your spouse/partner and dependant children aged 16 to 24 in full time education, living in the same household. You can also access health and wellbeing support via their online portal and app – find login details for staff here

A member of the Human Resources team or your line manager can provide advice, support and information, including the identification of appropriate workplace support mechanisms. 

Seek support from one of the UEA Campus Trade Unions – Unison ( ), UCU ( and Unite (  

UEA's People and Culture Division also has a range of wellbeing resources and information on its Employee Wellbeing website

Report and Support, UEA's online tool, has a range of information in it's Mental Health and Wellbeing support section.  

UEA staff also have access to Silvercloud, a free online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy resource. To find out more and gain access, please visit the UEA Staff Counselling page on My UEA.  

External support   

Some mental health charities have also put together some tips and advice that may be useful if you’re worried or anxious about the situation around coronavirus:  

Mind – Coronavirus and your wellbeing  

Mental Health Foundation - Looking after your mental health   

OCD UK - OCD and Coronavirus Top Tips  

Student Minds - Resources  

Student Space   

Leeway (0300 561 0077) offer telephone support and live chat service to people of all genders who can speak confidentially to a domestic abuse outreach worker.   

Bright Sky App – a free mobile app providing support and information to those who are experiencing domestic abuse as well as those concerned about family and friends.  

National anonymous listening services available to all at any time:  

Samaritans: Call free phone 116 123 (24-hour service) or email   

CALM: Call 0800 58 58 58 or webchat service   

In an emergency:  

Medical emergencies: 999  
Urgent medical advice: 111  

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