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An ethnographic study of Resurface - A wellbeing intervention for university students.

Glyn-Jones, S., 2023. An ethnographic study of Resurface - A wellbeing intervention for university students. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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This study examines the experiences of students with poor mental health undertaking a peer support activity course named Resurface; a wellbeing intervention based at Bournemouth University. Resurface involves weekly immersion within two lifestyle activities, surfing, and yoga, which together share a historic cultural relationship, and are witnessing a growing demand in modern society as shared practises in wellbeing experiences, retreats, and interventions. The aim of this research was to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between student experiences of the intervention and their wellbeing undertaking an interpretive philosophy, where my relationship with the students was explored subjectively. An ethnographic approach was adopted, involving in-depth individual interviews with sixteen students and overt observation of a cohort of 32 students participating in the course over a full academic year. The use of a research diary was incorporated to record a written document of my own thoughts and feelings, allowing autoethnographic, co-created data to be included. Data collection commenced in October 2018 and ended in June 2019 upon completion of the course and subsequent academic year; as a result, the students’ experience of university life was captured alongside their experiences of the intervention, allowing the full context of their lived experiences to be explored. The key findings include the early experiences of the students’ journey, involving the motivations and apprehensions concerning these experiences, such as the allure of surfing and yoga, and the students’ hope for a fresh start; conversely, the fear of the unknown inhibiting their engagement and progression. This study adds to the emerging literature on surfing and nature-based activity, by showing how benefits to subjective wellbeing are grounded in the students’ embodied lived experiences of ‘blue space’. Surfing helped alter the students’ perspectives of their own mental health, and encouraged a sense of wellbeing, adventure, and vitality, and improved their self-confidence and self-worth. The important link between resilience, surfing, and wellbeing was identified, and surfing’s innate facilitation of a ‘flow state’, increasing the evidence base on surfing and respite from mental distress. The findings add to the emerging knowledge on surfing’s mood-enhancing capacity, and the link between surfing and reduced symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. The parallel yoga experiences connect mixed emotions and feelings during yoga with self-regulatory behaviours, reflecting the journey endured by the students, having confronted interpersonal feelings and memories. This raised a problematic issue regarding short-term yoga participation and mental health, where self-judgment and over-thinking were not always dealt with effectively. Equally, the findings highlight the experiences of slowing down and relaxing during yoga, and dominant outcomes of reduced stress and anxiety, which finds support in most prominent yoga and wellbeing research. Like surfing, yoga encouraged a ‘flow state’, yet was a subjective, malleable experience, reflecting the students’ individualisms. This study shows that by combining surfing and yoga, Resurface provides a synergising, long-term intervention which builds a bridge between leisure activity participation and intervention for students with poor mental health, as an appealing holistic alternative. The most poignant experiences are revealed through a deeper understanding of the interconnected, cohesive contributory theme. These include the experiences of peer support and belonging, shifting students from exclusion to inclusion, and encouraging a feeling of safety, a non-judgmental culture, deeper conversation, and camaraderie. This linked to a detailed understanding of Resurface as a ‘third place’, evolving the social surroundings separate from the students two usual social environments, and one that allowed the students to explore new identities, and embark upon novel adventures in a structured community. These findings highlight the students desire to escape from their first and second ‘places’ and seek respite from an often toxic university world, delving deeper into self-image, self- esteem, and social roles as Resurface members, surfers, and yogis. This study provided a series of linked themes exploring the culture of the student social world, and in doing so, develops a deeper understanding of the participants experiences, contributing towards the body of knowledge on the unique social world of Resurface.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:38114
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:01 Feb 2023 15:44
Last Modified:01 Feb 2023 15:44


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