Keeping Active to Combat Loneliness

This year for Mental Health Awareness week the theme has been loneliness. Loneliness is something many of us experience throughout our lives, whether we’re at university or later in life. Feeling lonely can really impact your mental health, as you may feel the absence of meaningful relationships around you. Finding connections is an important part of combatting loneliness – whether that’s with ourselves, others or with the world around us.

Keeping active is often promoted as one of the ways that you can promote good mental health; it can help improve your sleep, boost your mood and reduce stress! Regular activity can also help provide the benefits of a structured routine and help build a sense of community.

Today we’re going to highlight some of the ways you can keep active whilst also combatting loneliness.

Get Involved in Team Sport

Two girls celebrating football success.

Joining a Sports Club is a great way to meet new people and getting involved with a team at university can help you meet people and build meaningful connections. The camaraderie that comes with being part of a team can often be really rewarding; it’s not just about winning a big match or a race but also making small personal achievements as well and doing it as part of a team.

Group exercise increases the endorphin rush that comes with getting active – the increased blood flow to your brain can help your mood and self-esteem! Exercising as part of a team really makes the benefits of getting active stand out while also helping you build lasting friendships.

Team sport at university can often feel intimidating, but with over 70 sports clubs at University of Bristol as well as Intramural Leagues throughout the year there’s bound to be something for you!

Join a running group

We’ve been promoting the Bristol Run Series recently, focusing on our 10k which is taking place this week as well as the 15k happening next month – we’ve even got an in-person inflatable event! But did you know running can be great for your mental health?

Running is often cited as an activity that can improve mood and relieve stress. Running, jogging and walking all increase blood flow to the brain, and this can help boost your mental wellbeing in the short term. But there are long term benefits as well, such as helping depression and anxiety, boosting memory and cognitive flexibility, and helping with the development of healthy sleep patterns.

The Bristol Run Series in person 5k starting, a large group of people running.

Just like with team sport, running with a group is a great way to connect with other people, and can help you grow stronger and boost self-esteem. If you’re feeling inspired and looking for a new running group to join, you can reach out to Queen’s Square Running Club who have beginners’ sessions at 17:30 on Tuesdays. Or, you can get together with friends, and sign yourselves up for the Bristol Run Series Events. It can be as casual as you like, as long as you’re enjoying yourself!

Attend an Exercise Class

We’ve already got a whole blog post dedicated to why you should join an exercise class during university, from the ability to making connections to the feel good factor they provide. If you’re feeling lonely, our B:Active classes might be a great place to try and make some new friends.

The classes are designed to cater to our beginners, so they’re a welcoming space no matter your fitness level. Classes are also attended by Activators, our student staff who are there to answer questions and help out, making sure the class runs smoothly and enjoyably for all who attend!

B:Active Residences classes are now available for free to students living in University allocated accommodation. You can see the timetable and book your place for Residences classes on our app now.

B:Active Residences timetable

Connect with the Wellbeing Network

The Bristol SU Wellbeing network was created to ensure the wellbeing needs of students were being met by the Students’ Union and the University. Any University of Bristol Student is eligible to become a member of the network and get involved in the community.

Through the Wellbeing Network you can get involved in a number of physically active activities which also benefit mindfulness, such as Yoga sessions or sponsored walks for mental health. Student networks are just one way you can connect with other individuals at the university and help foster a sense of community; there are hundreds of societies at the university, each with their own method of keeping active.

Helpful contacts for advice and support:

If you’re experiencing challenges with your mental health and wellbeing, or need some extra support, here are some resources that may be of use to you.

Student Wellbeing Service

Student Counselling Service

Bristol Nightline – student confidential listening and information service

Off The Record – Mental Health support for people aged 11-25 living in Bristol

Changes Bristol – Peer Support Groups running in Bristol

Bristol MIND – mental health resource for people in Bristol and surrounding areas


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