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12 October 2020 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Supplied
Your kindness is contagious
Counselling psychologist at the university, Nhlori Ngobeni, believes that what you give to others does not necessarily leave your life; it comes back to you in some way or another, for the benefit of your health and well-being.

The month of October has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month, with the objective of not only educating the public about mental health, but also to reduce the stigma and discrimination to which people with mental illness are often subjected.

The COVID-19 global pandemic and the subsequent implementation of the lockdown have had an impact on all aspects of our lives: family, relationships, the economy, educational institutions, health system, to name a few.

As stipulated by the South African Department of Health and the South African Federation for Mental Health, mental-health problems come as the result of a complex interplay between biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors.

With that being said, University of the Free State (UFS) counselling psychologist and writer of the article Ubuntu, Nhlori Ngobeni, explains that the demands of our changing world can become quite overwhelming, leaving one feeling burdened by all the changes they need to make. She reflected on the increased challenges that students have experienced in their academics, physical and mental health, finances, and interpersonal relationships as a result of the pandemic, and how the spirit of Ubuntu can act as a catalyst of support.

Nelson Mandela defined Ubuntu as “the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievement of others”.

Exercising your humanity through actions, words, gestures,
and thoughts can aid the sustenance of humanity.


Benefits of Ubuntu

Ngobeni further elaborated that living out your humanity should not be done to get something in return. She explained the essence and benefits of Ubuntu as the belief that being kind to others is like planting a seed and watering it daily. “It is guaranteed to yield some fruits. What you give to others does not necessarily leave your life; it comes back to you in some way or another, for the benefit of your health and well-being,” she added.

Ubuntu in action
Exercising your humanity through actions, words, gestures, and thoughts can aid the sustenance of humanity.

Here are some ways you can live out your humanity:

Live out your values: showing love; caring for and respecting others; choosing to forgive; having sympathy and empathy; being kind and compassionate.
Acts of service: spending time with others; sharing your knowledge; running an errand for the elderly; making a cup of tea for your parents or organising a movie or games night for your family.
Giving: food, clothes, time, or money.
• Being intentional: being genuine and present in your everyday experiences or encounters. Calling a classmate or friend and checking on them.
• Gestures: greeting, nodding, smiling, waving, etc. … simply acknowledging others.

Visit the Kovsie Life Well-being Warriors page for important telephone numbers and online resources offered by the UFS Department of Student Counselling and Development.

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