USW Staff unwind

To mark World Mental Health day on Wednesday 10th October 2018, we’re celebrating some of the ways in which USW staff keep a good balance between their life and their work at the University.


The magic of gardening

What could be more relaxing than digging, weeding, watering or just pottering?

Sid Kennedy is Wellbeing and Disability Service Manager

"I’m always retelling the Aesop fable about the ‘Hare and Tortoise’ to anyone I see rushing about at work. It’s important to avoid burnout so I practise what I preach! 

"For me, it’s basically about having a good mix of fairly strenuous physical activity and time being sedentary and calm. 

"The allotment plot I started with my wife about 18 months ago involves much digging, especially in the spring, whilst picking weeds is a constant battle that gets you down on your knees to make combat with them. 

"As this summer has been a very hot one, making a dozen trips to the water tank with a water carrier in each hand is as good as any workout you’d have at the gym!

"I’m at an age where any physical exertion requires pacing myself, so I take regular breaks. So every half an hour of digging, weeding or watering is followed by a dip into the flask that my wife and I take with us. 

"Sitting on recycled patio chairs, feeling the breeze that creates its own concerto amongst the oak and ash trees, and watching the robins that come for worms and a nibble of a sarnie, creates a sense of oneness with nature that is just good for the soul. 

"As much as I enjoy the company of others, going to the allotment in the early evening when most plotters have gone home, brings a peacefulness and quietude that isn’t possible earlier in the day.”


Jog on: the easy route to a work-life balance

We meet the staff who who achieve a work-life balance through running

Celia Jackson is a senior lecturer in photography at Atrium

“As well as all the physical benefits, one of the things I love about running is being out-of-doors and immersed in the landscape, the constantly changing sights and sounds of the weather and the seasons changing. The smell of cut grass and the feeling of sunshine or raindrops on my skin all help to make running a multi-sensory experience!

“I absolutely love my job but it can be very intense, so running is a way of clearing my mind, calming down and reviewing the day. I often describe this as “untangling myself” (after Carly Simon’s song, Loving and Free – revealing my age here!)

“I usually run from ATRiuM to Cardiff Bay and back, which takes around 40 minutes. Mostly, I run on my own, although I’ve belonged to clubs in the past and I do enjoy the comradeship – plus, running with faster people is great for improving your speed!”


Sarah Buckley is the Faculty Marketing Officer for LSE

“I got into running a few years ago. I wanted to get fitter so I signed up for a 5K race which gave me a goal to work towards. I had to run/walk at first but I soon improved as the weeks went by. When I felt more confident I started going to my local park run on a Saturday morning and have never looked back.

“A lunchtime run gets you out of the office and into the fresh air. I work at a computer for most of the day so it’s nice to be out and about. I feel refreshed afterwards and can carry on with my work in the afternoon feeling I’ve accomplished something. There are showers at Newport which is a bonus too.

“I usually run along the riverfront by the Newport campus at lunchtime. It’s a nice quiet route, you get a lovely view of the riverside and it’s the perfect length for a quick three-mile run.”


Striking the right chord!

By day Tim Goss is an International Student Adviser; by night (or by afternoon!) he is the musical director of the USW 1Voice Choir, as well as a freelance music director with local choirs and bands....

"For me, music is a creative escape from the stress of everyday life, and no matter how difficult a piece is, or how rubbish a day I am having, when I finally get something right, or a choir nails a new or difficult piece there is a huge smile that appears on my face and I feel joyful.

“The choir here at USW is like no other I work with and I can assure you that’s in a good way! The members are all tied by their community here at the University which makes us a lovely group.

"The support and friendships I have in this choir are unique and allow me to grow and develop as a director – I value every member, their hard work and their trust in me do to the right thing. It goes without saying that I could not run the choir without Lynne Phillips, our volunteer pianist and deputy musical director.

"Singing is good for you – there is no doubt about it. The most obvious benefits are you get to join a lovely group of people once a week, make new friends, and get an hour away from your desk and the stress of day-to-day work. 

"However, it’s more than that – people leave the choir buzzing, uplifted by the endorphins which flood them after singing and science has shown this can last for days.  

"Even on days when I’m tired, I come out of the session full of energy and much happier than when I went in. Singing replicates some, if not most of, the health benefits of yoga breathing – it helps you focus and relax, and we don’t make you do the downward dog while you sing!”