By Dhristi Agarwal, SciTech deputy editor
It might be intimidating to move from the tranquility of home in the pandemic's haze to a whole different setting at university. Epigram SciTech explores the green spaces in Bristol and how they can benefit your wellbeing.
Starting university is exciting with a plethora of opportunities one has to explore. You’re also faced with a lengthy list of tasks and responsibilities most people have never had to manage before.
Freshers’ week involves making a whole new set of core friends, adjusting to new course structures, managing food for oneself, forming new social schedules, finding your career paths and shaken up routines with all the socialising. Often, freshers week presents a balance of excitement and overstimulation.
Overstimulation is when people are swamped by more experiences, sensations, noise and activity than they can cope with. We all find habits that alleviate some of the stress but as students living in Bristol, we suggest employing the most abundant resource available to us: nature.
With the Bristol City Council working relentlessly to add 70 additional green areas in the next 20 years to improve the city's wellness, Bristol's scenery is lush, abundant, and gives peace by just being. Our university's city campus is encircled by green space that extends over yards.
One in three university students in the UK, according to Pereira's research from 2020, report experiencing considerable psychological distress and seeking professional help. In light of this, it's important to note that Bakir-Demir observed in 2021 that children who have greater access to green places have better emotional regularity and exhibit reduced stress levels throughout time.
With this in mind, we list below 5 beautiful green spaces that Bristol has to offer.
1. The Downs
It is a favourite with families and students in Clifton. A beautiful parkland where you may practise mindfulness, observe clouds, or have a barbeque with friends and visiting relatives with direct buses and lots of parking.
2. College Green
Between the Wills Memorial and the streets leading up to Cabot Circus, this green space in Bristol City Center acts as a contrast, providing the serenity of nature and a multitude of flowers. It is directly across from Banky's renowned hanging wall art and acts as a constant reminder to take some time for yourself. Research finds that spending 20-30 minutes in nature during a stressful event produces the greatest drop in cortisol levels, the hormone related to stress.
3. Brandon Hill Park
Brandon Hill, one of the oldest in Bristol, is situated immediately off Park Street in the West End and offers lovely walks, a nature conservation area, and of course the Cabot Tower, a landmark of Bristol's skyline. It's a great alternative to the gym for some physical activity. Studies have shown that students who earn a high 2:1 or 1st class degree are three times more likely to exercise than students with lesser marks, which should further encourage you to go.
4. Ashton Court Estate
You might be lucky to find deer sauntering around and a dog-friendly cafe in this enormous 850-acre piece of land on the other side of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The green space and woodland welcome cyclists, mountain-bikers, horse riders, golfers, families, and walkers (as well as plenty of wheelchair and buggy-friendly paths).
5. The Harbourside
If you're happiest near water, the Harbourside, which connects the city's biggest hotspots, is the perfect place to promenade, grab a coffee and a crepe on the way, and remove your headphones to fully immerse yourself in the best body of water the city has to offer.
Overall, after witnessing the drastically altering pandemic, it is wonderful to be present and take care of your mental and emotional well-being. Your general health will benefit from being more knowledgeable and from being aware of how to access your green places.
Featured image: Flickr/Andrew Bennett
What are your favourite green spaces in Bristol?