Loughborough Doctoral College

Training and events

Wellbeing Fortnight 2021

11th March

Note: Some sessions will run in parallel/part parallel. Please consider session times before booking.

Chair yoga

Paula Malins - Loughborough University Marketing and Advancement

(Online, Microsoft Teams)

More info...

For the session, you will need to be seated on a chair without wheels (despite the potential comedic value) or armrests that allows you to plant your feet firmly on the floor.

Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and have space to safely complete the standing elements of the session.

Wear comfortable clothes – and bare feet are best.

We will work with some simple chair yoga to help untangle those stress knots in necks, shoulders, wrists, hips, knees, ankles...

We’ll begin with a gentle breathing exercise to focus busy frazzled minds, and there will be time to relax as we finish.

PLEASE READ - Disclaimer 

Although this will be a gentle yoga practice, you are encouraged to work mindfully and not do yourself a mischief.

Paula will guide you through the practice, but may not be able to see you clearly or instruct you individually as is possible in a face-to-face teaching scenario.

If you are pregnant, are carrying an injury, have an underlying health condition or recently had surgery – please follow the advice given by your health practitioner with regards exercising.

If you have any concerns and would like to check in with Paula before the session, please drop her a line at p.malins@lboro.ac.uk 

Presenter biography:

Paula qualified as a yoga teacher with the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) in 2016, and has been rolling out her mat for almost 25 years. As well as leading general yoga classes for all ages and abilities, she has taught chair yoga to older people and published articles in the BWY’s Spectrum magazine.

Mindfulness for study

Jackie Hatfield & Tina Horsman - Student Services (Specialist Study and Strategy Support Service)

(Online, Microsoft Teams)

More info...

This session will introduce Mindfulness for Study which leads students towards metacognition, self-advocacy and self-empowerment which all positively impact mental wellbeing.  

Mindfulness practice is about developing a way to pay attention to what you want, in the present moment, without judgement. It helps foster better mental wellbeing through confidence and self-determination, helps avoid distractions and procrastination and therefore students are better able to focus on study.

Alberto Chiesa and colleagues (2011) found that mindfulness practice improves attention, focus, concentration and memory.  These form part of the executive functioning of the brain. Executive Functions are the range of mental processes that allow the control of behaviour and help with performance of complex tasks (Brown, 2005).  Areas of executive functions that can pose particular difficulties for students include: impulse control; emotional control, working memory, work and personal management (time management, planning, prioritising and organising); task management and self-monitoring (Krcmar, 2014).  Emotions, thoughts and actions are not separate mental activities, but are dimensions of the same process and mindfulness exercises stimulate the brain in specific ways that encourage connectivity (Siegal, 2007).  There is considerable growing evidence that mindfulness helps support and develop the executive functions (Wallace, 2006; Brefczynshi-Lewis, et al., 2007; Lutz et al., 2008; Mrazek et al., 2013).

In our Mindfulness for Study programme we teach students the 3 basic anchors of mindfulness: mindfulness of breath, sound and body (Krcmar & Horsman, 2016).  We start each session with mindfulness practice of the 5 senses.  This helps to focus the session but also, importantly, students develop a better understanding of how their brain works.  This developing metacognition leads to better self-advocacy, better mental health and better learning.

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  1. To introduce the concept of mindfulness
  2. Provide examples of how this can be used to help with study
  3. To demonstrate mindfulness techniques and resources

Presenter biographies:

Tina Horsman - I have been assessing and supporting students with neurodiversity for over twenty years. I have co-authored the book Mindfulness for Study: From Procrastination to Action and use mindfulness within my work to help students reduce anxiety and bring focus to their work.

Jackie Hatfield - I have been supporting neurodiverse (dyslexia, dyspraxia, AD(H)D & autism) students, in a 1:1 setting at Loughborough University for 13 years. In this role I engage with students ranging from those beginning their learning journey in Higher Education through to those pursuing the challenges of researching and writing their PhDs.


Who can I become? Developing your professional skill set

Dr Valarie Pinfield - School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

(Online, Microsoft Teams)


More info...

As a doctoral researcher, we can easily become immersed in the narrow field of our research programme and can often think about our developAs a doctoral researcher, we can easily become immersed in the narrow field of our research programme and can often think about our development solely in terms of the subject-specific skills relevant to our research area. In this pair of workshops, I want to help us all think about our own development much more broadly, with the target of achieving a fulfilling and enjoyable working life in the future. We’ll do this through two workshops addressing complementary themes.

1st Workshop (Wednesday 3rd March, 10-12am): Who am I? Working out what makes your perfect “job”

  • We'll use two frameworks to help us explore our personal motivations, what's important to us about our work context, what we find satisfying and fulfilling, who we like to work with and othr perspectives.
  • Understanding these aspects of ourselves more deeply can help us get ore out of our work, and to choose work or a career that we will find rewarding.

2nd Workshop (Thursday 11th March, 2-4pm): Who can I become? Developing your professional skill set

  • We’ll take a look at the skills that are likely to be needed in the workplace of the future
  • We’ll discuss how we are/can/should be developing these and other skills as a doctoral researcher beyond those specific to our research field
  • We’ll think about how life beyond the university contributes to our skill development e.g. family life, sport activities, voluntary roles
  • A greater awareness of our (existing and developing) skills will help us to build a stronger skill set that can help us reach our ideal job.

*Whilst you will get the most out of the workshops if you attend both sessions, you do not have to attend both, they will be run as stand-alone sessions*

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • application of frameworks to support exploration of personal drivers for career choice
  • knowledge of resources to support career choice and workplace skills information
  • recognition of the personal and professional skills needed in the current and future workplace
  • appreciation of ways in which these skills can be developed in/outside work or university

Presenter biography: 

I am an academic in the Chemical Engineering Department, and was previously Head of Department for Chemical Engineering (2017-2020). My career has been quite “non-linear”, and has been driven largely by a desire to work on things that I found interesting. After graduating in physics, I worked at an industrially-focussed research organisation before doing a PhD, and then working at a chocolate factory for 3 years. A long period of family-management followed, including a career break and years of part-time working as a postdoctoral researcher whilst also being at the school gate morning and afternoon every day. After many months considering whether a career in academia, industry or school teaching would be my ideal, I was privileged to secure a lectureship here at Loughborough in 2012, and the academic role is one that suits me well. I am passionate about people development and have acted in formal roles as an advisor for academic staff and a mentor for postdoctoral staff as well as informally supporting colleagues. My perspectives are gleaned from working in companies as well as universities, working with some very wise bosses/supervisors/mentors, working on a voluntary committee of a charitable organisation, and in my personal life managing a home and family.