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Staff Blog - Week 1


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Staff Blog

This week, we hear from three members of staff from the Student Disability & Wellbeing Team about how they have been applying their habit and moving forward, as we reach the end (or perhaps just the beginning?) of their 2021: Easier Said Than Done journey.

  • Deirdre
  • Sarah
  • Will

Read below to find out how they got on!

Week 3 - Theme: Maintaining Your Habit & Moving Forward

Image of Deirdre from Disability and Wellbeing Services    Deirdre - Taking Time Out    


The End, but only the beginning


Well, 21 days have passed and although the challenge is almost done, the change, I hope, is only beginning.  The jigsaw and books were a perfect way to get me to sit still and quieten the internal dialogue.  The chatter in my head during lockdown is even louder and busier than usual (not to mention the constant real life chatter) and a step away from it has helped me relax, whilst many things in life are uncertain and unsettling. 

The headspace and escapism from these activities is different from the kind you get when you are on a run or swimming in the sea.  There is no ‘pain’ involved for starters and ultimately no actual end goal each time, which can be a good thing. Giving myself a break has definitely been the kind of challenge I needed this January.  The difficulty will be maintaining the change.  Continuing to duck out of my life for a short while every day, guilt free, knowing the benefits it is having for me and those around me can only be a good thing, but even today I caught myself saying “I don’t have time”, so it is still a work in progress, but where would the fun be if it was too easy?

 Image of jigsaw of peacock fully assembled

Photo 1: The huge jig-saw is now completed! 


Image of Sarah from Disability and Wellbeing Services    Sarah - An Uphill Climb?


Now that I have established my new walking it’s really important to have a plan to stay motivated. I really enjoy getting out for my walks with Sir Perseus especially as I am spending so much time at home and I have already noticed little improvements like increased fitness which is really motivating. New habits can falter though, not because of difficulty but because of boredom. It can get a bit boring walking up and down the same hill, so, in order to stay focussed going forward I have started to plan hill walks in other locations around Belfast such as the Cavehill. This creates variety and adds a new challenge being a bigger hill and longer walk. Finding flow is really important and with a good playlist or podcast I completely zone out and get into the flow of my walking and it’s great!

Collage of Sarah's blog entry showing her and her dog

Photo collage: Sir Perseus getting excited for 'walkies'! It's a thumbs-up from me! 

Image of Wellbeing Adviser in the SGC Hub   Will - Live For The Moment

This week, the snow made it a little easier to be in the moment. I think the snow brings out a playful side to us all and we as a family really enjoyed being in it- sledding, building snowmen, having a snowball fight... I’m happy to say that I feel like being the moment is becoming more habitual for me. It’s made this year a bit brighter despite the continued restrictions and uncertainty. These moments I’ve had in the practice of being present through these last 21 days are ones that have laid a foundation for moving forward into the rest of the year.

Image of 2021: Easier Said Than Done - sledding

Photo: Having some fun sledding!

Week 2 - Theme: Keeping Motivated

Image of Deirdre from Disability and Wellbeing Services    Deirdre - Taking Time Out    



It’s the second week of the initiative and things have been going well – a bit too well!  Reading to the detriment of sleep and jigsawing to the detriment of family!  Have I missed the point?  I have wholeheartedly embraced having time out, but maybe have tipped the balance in the opposite direction.  Can you have too much “me” time? 

The fact that I chose a 1,000 piece jigsaw and a 900 page novel means that this rate of time out from life may well continue until the last piece is fitted and the final page is turned.  Despite the fact that I said I was not giving myself a challenge, completion before next week has become the challenge!   Some habits die hard. 

The balance, however needs redressed, so the aim this week….keep juggling, whilst balancing. 

Wish me luck!

Heart-shaped rockAssorted jigsaw pieces

Photo 1: heart-shaped rock

Photo 2: Trying my luck at a huge jigsaw! 


Image of Sarah from Disability and Wellbeing Services    Sarah - An Uphill Climb?


Over the past few weeks, I have continued to walk my dog up my local hill at least 3 times per week. I have noticed I am now doing this faster, I feel better overall physically and mentally and my sleep has improved – 3 good reasons to keep going! There have been occasions when I have thought of every excuse not to go out, particularly in poor weather. But every new habit is context dependent and small changes in what you see can lead to a big change in what you do. It’s important to create an environment that helps this and following the 4 rules of behaviour change have helped me.

These are -

  1. Make it obvious
  2. Make it easy
  3. Make it attractive
  4. Make it satisfying

I follow these by making sure my walking clothes and shoes are an obvious visual cue and the first thing I see when I wake up. I also use the 2 minute habit rule – I take 2 minutes to dress in walking clothes and call ‘walkies’; this is my habit ritual and the easy bit! The challenge is what comes after! I really enjoy watching how much fun Sir Perseus has on our walks, combined with some great playlists that make me want to dance up that hill and the additional benefits of feeling great, really make my walks attractive and satisfying!

Sunset and blogging

Photo collage: Exploring the mountains & enjoying a sunset with a furry friend!

Image of Wellbeing Adviser in the SGC Hub   Will - Live For The Moment

This week I have been continuing my intention to be mindful in the moment and have found that it is already becoming more a way of being.

 In my evening walks, when I feel my mind beginning to wander, I’m able to bring it back to the moment much quicker than before. This is still a continuing practice and realistically a forever practice, but it’s getting easier.

 On Sunday, we took a family walk up Cave Hill and I was explaining to the kids how far we’ve come and I hadn’t realised my wife took this photo, but I think it encapsulates a lot of what I’m practicing: to be here, to take it in, to remember how far we’ve come, and imagine what might be next, but mostly, to be in it.

Cavehill with father and children

Photo: Overlooking Cavehill with my children.

Week 1 - Theme: Getting Started

Image of Deirdre from Disability and Wellbeing Services    Deirdre - Taking Time Out    


Starting off

Starting isn’t usually an issue, as I love a challenge, but my motivation always seems to wane for New Year resolutions.  A 21 day change seems a more realistic and manageable length and, who knows, it might just be enough to make this a habit!

The usual January challenges I have tried before, so on this occasion no running 5k a day or jumping into the sea, or dry January.  I thought that I would do almost nothing!  That might not sound like much of a feat, but it is something I never do. 

So, for the next 21 days, I am trying to have some quiet time every day, not doing anything for anyone else, just a space to calm my mind and relax.  I am stocked up with jigsaws and some books and I am good to go.

Image of assortment of jigsaws, books, and a kindle reading device

Photo: stocked up with jigsaws, lots of books, and trusty e-reader! 

It will just be time and space for the day to stand still.  This will be a challenge, as I am a bit partial to the aforementioned activities and with working and home-schooling, sitting at peace will be new and will feel like a luxury. 

With everything that is being thrown at us at the moment, some switch off time sounds like just the way to recharge, stay positive and move through the start of 2021 towards better times.

Image of Sarah from Disability and Wellbeing Services    Sarah - An Uphill Climb?


Starting off

Last year has me feeling, I’ve been in-doors too long, and when my go-to outfit became stretch fabric and an elasticated waist band, I knew action was needed!

My 2021 long-term goal is to improve my fitness - but the smaller actions and new habit I want to start with to work towards my goal, is walking my dog up my local hill at least three times per week.

Getting started is the hardest part, but I try to overcome challenges by going for my walk first thing in the morning. I dress in my walking clothes as soon as I wake, wellies by the door and the obligatory call of ‘walkies’! Then I’m not just letting myself down if I don’t go out, but Sir Perseus too.

Accountability to someone really helps, even if they are furry with four legs!

Image of Sarah in the outdoors, with her dog, and a lovely view of the landscape

Image of Wellbeing Adviser in the SGC Hub   Will - Live For The Moment


Starting off

For my 21 day intention I wanted to practice being more mindful in the moment. As a Wellbeing Adviser, I often promote 5 steps to wellbeing:

  1. Be active
  2. Give
  3. Connect
  4. Keep learning
  5. Take notice

But I have witnessed in myself the one I find the most challenging is "Take notice". So, for this challenge, I wanted to actively make this a priority. I am setting the intention to be more mindful on a daily basis.

I already feel the benefit of it, especially in the most simple things... sometimes I make an effort for intentional meditation, but as life is busy, I also find myself in the same grateful open state in hoovering the living room or washing dishes, taking an evening walking and playing with my kids more completely. It’s a good practice and I hope it continues through 2021...

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We hope you enjoyed hearing about our staff have been navigating throughout their January goals! Want to tell us about your journey? We'd love to hear from you! Get in touch here