Latest #WellbeingWarriors

Edition 23: Managing Anxiety and COVID-19

Heightened negative emotions during the Covid-19 pandemic are normal. You might experience feelings such as anxiety, fear, sadness, helplessness, anger, and confusion. Your thoughts can also increase negative emotions, but thoughts are not always reality. Therefore, it is best to educate yourself and trust the facts. 

See poster and video below for quick tips on how to manage your anxiety during the pandemic.



EDITION 22: Taming Test and Exam Anxiety

Argh, it’s almost that time of the year again – the dreaded exam time! Your life turns into an endless cycle of studying, eating, sleeping, and repeat. Let’s be honest; online and multimodal learning is probably not helping your anxiety either. One thing is sure – if you are writing exams, you will most likely not be able to get out of it, but hopefully we can help you to get through it.  

A variety of factors may cause test anxiety. Expectations, past experiences, poor study habits, and perfectionism are all contributors. The good news is that with the right interventions, you can reduce the amount of test anxiety you experience. Why only lower and not eliminate this anxiety? Research has shown that a healthy amount of stress can be beneficial, as it increases your motivation, makes you more alert, and helps with memory retrieval.   

Common test anxiety symptoms include heart palpitations; sweaty palms; difficulty breathing; feeling overwhelmed; irritability; fatigue; and sleeping difficulties. We’re probably in agreement that experiencing any of these symptoms is highly uncomfortable, not conducive to an ideal learning environment, and can affect your exam outcome.  Take the following informal quiz to see whether you might be experiencing any test anxiety.  

Read the full article for tips that will help you prepare for before, during, and after your exam to lessen your anxiety. 

Download edition 22: Taming Test and Exam Anxiety
Download edition 22: Taming Test and Exam Anxiety (UA version)

 
 

EDITION 21: Coping with Stress and Relaxation Tips

As previously stated in Edition 12 of the #WellbeingWarriors campaign, you are more likely to become angry when you are already stressed. Think of the last time you were late for an appointment. If something negative happens then (such as dropping your keys or not finding your books), you are more likely to get upset than if you had all the time in the world. 

The best course of action is to effectively manage your stress levels. You know what helps you to relax. Sometimes it is a practical solution (such as managing your time), and other times it will be about creating balance in your life (exercising and listening to music). 

 Relaxation Tips

For more effective tips on how to better manage your stress, watch the video below.




EDITION 20: Overcoming Challenges of a Long-Distance Relationship 

Is the lockdown putting strain on your romantic relationship? Geographical distance can limit emotional and physical intimacy, and as a result, might be the toughest to deal with during this time. However, not all relationships are strained by distance, as it has some advantages of its own.

We are all social beings who need to love and feel loved. Maintaining a relationship requires time and effort, which may also be challenging as a student, mainly because of the academic demands placed on you. The emotional impact of the long distance could result in feeling isolated from your partner or feeling like you might be losing your relationship. Technology does not always make things easier; for instance, the sincerity of a message can be lost in text, or a person may feel that their partner is neglecting their emotional needs. Whatever the issue, essentially, there are many challenges to long-distance relationships. 

“Falling in love is easy but staying in love is difficult.” - Sanjay Mitra

Communication is key 

Communication is an essential element in maintaining any type of relationship. This ensures that people are on the same page. It sounds easy to do and easy to maintain. However, is it effective? 

Effective communication includes conversing with the other person clearly – and most importantly – also hearing the other person. Usually when we speak, the aim is to convey a particular message to others. Do you sometimes find yourself feeling unheard by your partner, no matter how many times you say the same thing? Ask yourself if the communication in your relationship is effective. To convey a clear message, take ownership of your words. That way, the person listening can do so without feeling the need to defend themselves. Active listening is a crucial part of communication; this means paying attention in a non-judgemental manner and responding without defending. 

Resolving conflict together while apart 

One of the challenges of a long-distance relationship is addressing conflict without seeing each another or through virtual means. It is important to consider how people react to conflict; not every person feels comfortable addressing it. When faced with conflict, some people want to discuss it immediately before it leads to something worse, while others prefer to let things cool down before addressing the issue.

Partners need to discuss this so that when conflict arises, both parties feel heard and respected. 
See documents below for full article, including information on reassurance; reasons why long-distance relationships work for some and not for others; and for tips on how to keep it fun.

Download edition 20: Overcoming Challenges of a Long-Distance Relationship
Download edition 20: Overcoming Challenges of a Long-Distance Relationship (UA Version)

EDITION 19: A holistic approach to self-care and maintaining your psychological health



Self-care during the unprecedented times we are living in is of the utmost importance, and Student Counselling and Development deems it important to make time to free your mind from worries or negative thoughts about what might be going on right now, and to be positive. 

When you think positively, you will notice that you feel better, and you no longer focus on the challenges.
See poster below for eight ways to practice self-care: 

Download edition 17: A holistic approach to self-care and maintaining your psychological health




EDITION 18: A Grateful Warrior is a Peaceful Warrior: Practising Gratitude

We mostly express our gratitude to others when we want to demonstrate that we appreciate them, and when they have done something for us. We often show gratitude when we want others to experience the same appreciation and worthiness that we felt when receiving recognition. Those who regularly practise gratitude may experience more fulfilment in their lives and express more compassion and kindness by merely taking time to notice and reflect on the things that make them thankful. Expressing gratitude is beneficial to both the person giving and the one receiving the appreciation. 

Here are some tips on how to express gratitude:

• Appreciate the small things 
• Seek gratitude within your challenges 
• Keep a gratitude journal
• Express yourself
• Spend time with those you love
• Resist complaining
• Experience nature
• What do you take for granted?
• Volunteer


For the full article about Practising Gratitude, see documents below.

Download edition 18: A Grateful Warrior is a Peaceful Warrior: Practising Gratitude
Download edition 18: A Grateful Warrior is a Peaceful Warrior: Practising Gratitude (UA Format)



EDITION 17 : Working Towards Accepting the Loss of a Loved One

The agony of losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences any of us can go through. There are many stages we venture through when grieving a loved one. We can alternate between shock, denial, anger, depression, to even bargaining. The purposeful stage of grief is acceptance. Acceptance does not mean that you are ‘okay’ with the loss of a loved one.  It is a stage where you accept that your loved one is a mortal being; you work within the new reality and adapt or evolve; you embark on a journey to create a 'new normal'. 

Do not suppress your emotions 
Allow yourself to cry and feel the myriad of emotions that will come. Allowing your feelings to surface is not to say that you should act on the guidance of your feelings, but letting your senses help you understand what the loss means to you.
 
Identify changes in mood and functioning 
Some people may experience depression related to their grief; this is not to say that everyone who experiences loss will experience depression. You may experience prolonged sadness and hopelessness, and you may also struggle to function at school or work. It is important to seek social support or even make an appointment to speak to someone at Student Counselling and Development (SCD) (or another mental-health professional) when your grief has triggered symptoms that affect your personal, interpersonal, and academic functioning. 

Take time to engage in activities that replenish you 
You can take time to volunteer and do something for someone else, as this may help you feel better. You can also console yourself by listening to music, watching movies, praying, meditating, or reading books. 
Death and grieving a loved one is, unfortunately, part of life, which makes it crucial to equip yourself with healthy ways to deal with this enormous loss. If you find these tips helpful, do share them with others who may also benefit.  

For the full article about working towards accepting the loss of a loved one, see documents below.

Download edition 17: A Warrior's Guide to Grief: Working Towards Accepting the Loss of a Loved One
Download edition 17: A Warrior's Guide to Grief:  Working Towards Accepting the Loss of a Loved One
 (UA Format)


EDITION 16: Down, But Not Defeated: Battling Depression


Sometimes, when we are battling different challenges, we are not aware of when and how we were injured, and that we got knocked down.  At times, these scars and bruises affect us more than we are aware of, which could impact our daily functioning. Depression can be the result of some of these emotional cuts, injuries, or scars.

Emotions are significant in how we experience and make sense of life. Sadness, like all emotions, plays a crucial role. Its primary function is to alert us or others that we require consolation or time to recoup.

If the sadness starts to significantly impact your daily functioning and other areas of your life, this is where the clinical term ‘depression’ can be considered. This state does not only affect a person's emotional state; it also affects their mental and physical states.

If you feel weak or broken, are experiencing suicidal ideations, or are suffering from a mental illness – know that what you may consider as a crack or flaw, is what makes you unique.

Emotional well-being
A warrior who is aware of their emotions, and can understand and manage their feelings, is a warrior not easily shaken. While experiencing depression or suicidal ideations, it may seem/feel impossible to overcome this state. By engaging in mindfulness and allowing ourselves to locate our emotions, it becomes easier to manage our emotional experiences.

Professional assistance
It's okay to allow others to help you readjust your armour; it's okay to ask for help when it's too hard to manage the depression and suicidal ideations on your own. You can seek professional support to fight the depression and survive the suicidal ideations by seeing a psychologist or a counsellor. You could also consult a psychiatrist or medical practitioner for psychopharmacological intervention. If you are or know someone who is suicidal, please make use (or encourage that person to make use) of the contact details provided below:

SADAG Mental Health Line (24/7) +27 11 234 4837
SADAG Suicide Crisis Line (24/7) 0800 567 567

For the full article on battling depression, see attached article below.

Download edition 16: Down, But Not Defeated: Battling Depression
Download edition 16: Down, But Not Defeated: Battling Depression (UA format)





EDITION 15: Rise Above and Brave the Change

Change, as John F Kennedy quoted, is a law of life! 

Just as the leaves are currently turning into the familiar shades of winter, reminding us that the seasons change and nature transitions – so too, people are constantly experiencing shifts in their lives, requiring adjustment. 

Change enters our lives just by chance, as a result of choice, or because of a crisis. Regardless of the reasons, we are all confronted with having to make a simple decision – do we adapt to the change, or not? 

In the face of all the change we see, what are the essential skills we need in order to not freak out, and to be as effective as we can in our lives? 

Power of Choice 
Change your mindset – we are never free from change, but we are always free to choose how we respond to it. If we choose to be consumed by the limitations of a specific change, we will inevitably succumb to anger, anxiety, and hopelessness. If you use your power of choice constructively and focus your mind on positively adapting to change, the more resilient you will become in coping with the impact that change brings to your life. It is also our power of choice that enables us to activate positive change in our lives.   

Ask yourself: What opportunities and possibilities are being presented here?
Be adaptable – when life gets in the way of your plans, it is important to be adaptable. Being prepared to change direction in light of the unexpected, guarantees that you will expand your chances of achieving your goals and regaining your control. Remember, if Plan A does not work, there is always Plan B, C, D and 22 more letters of the alphabet.  

Ask yourself: What is my lesson here? 
Keep reminding yourself of what is important to you. Family, friends, achievements, creative expression, great music, and so on, can create a remarkably powerful buffer against whatever challenges may be troubling you.  

Reflecting on your personal values helps you to rise above the struggles you are facing, and makes you realise that your personal identity cannot be compromised by a challenging situation. 

For more information on how to better adapt and adjust to change, see the full article below.

Download edition 15: Rise Above and Brave the Change
Download edition 15: Rise Above and Brave the Change (UA Format)





EDITION 14: Breaking Free: I’m Not a Victim … I’m a Survivor!

Do you often feel hurt and insulted; as though you are not enough for someone; or continuously treading on eggs? If you answered yes to any of these statements, you might be experiencing emotional abuse. Emotional abuse most commonly occurs in romantic relationships, but can also emerge in other relationships, including friends, family, and colleagues. In comparison to other forms of abuse, emotional abuse is often more challenging to recognise, as it can be subtle and deceptive or obvious and manipulative.   

The underlying aim of emotional abuse is to control the victim by isolation and suppression, leaving them feeling trapped in the end – often too hurt to endure the relationship any longer, but also too afraid to leave. Below are a few tips on how to stay safe during the lockdown, especially if you are stuck in the same household with the person who is emotionally abusing you.  

Ways to cope with emotional abuse 
1. Awareness. If you recognise any aspect of emotional abuse within your relationship, it is essential to acknowledge that you can take control of your life by being honest about what you are experiencing.  
2. Prioritise your mental and physical health. Do not concern yourself with pleasing the person who is ill-treating you. 
3. Establish boundaries. Firmly communicate to the abusive person that you will no longer tolerate being belittled and mistreated and explain how things will unfold if they continue with this behaviour. 
4. Avoid arguments. If the abuser attempts to start an argument with you, start insulting you or demanding things from you, do not try to explain, soothe their feelings, or apologise for something you did not do. 
5. Build a support network. Do not be silent about the abuse you are experiencing. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or mental-health professional. 
6. Work on an exit plan. Based on the situation you find yourself in, you may need to consider ending the relationship. If your partner, friend, colleague, or a family member does not intend to change their behaviour, you will have to choose to leave. 

Remember that you are teaching others what treatment you will tolerate, and at some point, you must ensure that the hostile treatment comes to a stop. The first step you need to take in ensuring that you get out of a destructive relationship is to realise that you are in one.

For more information on how to break free and cope with emotional abuse, read through the full article below.

Download edition 14: Breaking Free: I’m Not a Victim … I’m a Survivor!
Download edition 14: Breaking Free: I’m Not a Victim … I’m a Survivor!



EDITION 13
: #AssertiveWarrior@Home

The lockdown may result in a lot of conflict and misunderstanding among us all, mostly due to miscommunication. Therefore, learning to be assertive is essential to becoming a better communicator. If you are assertive, you can express your opinion in a way that is clear and direct, while still being respectful towards others.   

Assertive behaviour can assist in having your needs better met; reducing conflict; managing anger; and building positive relationships with family, friends, and others. Being assertive is not always easy and it doesn't come naturally to everyone, but it is a skill you can learn. Let us start by measuring your current level of assertiveness. 

Six tips for being assertive during the lockdown 

1. Decide to be assertive. Changing your behaviour is challenging. Still, it is essential to decide and stick to your decision. 
2. Agree to disagree. Sharing your opinion doesn't mean that you are right, and that the other person is wrong. But it is essential to state your needs and wants confidently. 
3. Be an active listener. Try to understand the other person's point and wait for them to finish speaking before you respond. 
4. Avoid guilt trips. Being honest and sharing your feelings with others without accusations or making them feel guilty is essential to being assertive. 
5. Be patient. Breathe normally, keep eye contact, relax your face, and speak in a normal voice. Remember, you are still going to make mistakes, but learn from it. 
6. Practise assertiveness. Start by speaking assertively in front of a mirror or with a friend. Use 'I' statements. Stick to comments that include 'I', such as 'I think', or 'I feel'.

It is important to remember that communication is always a two-way process.  It might be easier to be assertive towards your friends than to your siblings, or vice versa. Whether comfortable or not, an assertive response will always be better for you and your relationship with the other person. 

See attached documents for more in-depth and valuable assertive communication skills and tips for you to try.  

Download: #AssertiveWarrior@Home Poster 


Download edition 13: #AssertiveWarrior@Home

Download edition 13: #AssertiveWarrior@Home (UA Version) 



EDITION 12: The Art of (not creating) War

You know that feeling of frustration bubbling up inside, just waiting to explode? When you feel you just want to shout, swear, or punch something?  Welcome to being human!  

Feeling frustrated is a normal and often necessary emotion. No emotion is bad or wrong. What is important, is what we choose to do (or not do) with the emotions we experience. In other words, it is more often the consequences of our anger that lead to unwanted results rather than the anger itself. 

Anger can be protective and necessary 
Explore your true feelings – is there something you are not addressing that is causing you to feel frustrated? Feelings such as disappointment and hurt – if not addressed – can often result in anger. Maybe you need to set boundaries (by being assertive) with someone in your life.  

Ego/Self-Esteem 
Become aware of how often you get upset due to people’s comments or comparing yourself to others. Start asking yourself why it matters so much what others think of you. 

Daily Frustrations
Struggling with resources, technology not working, or people not washing the dishes – these can all be extremely frustrating, especially if it all happens at the same time. 

What to do? One of the best ways to manage these daily hassles is to divide them into things you can control and those that you cannot. 

Stress
You are more likely to become angry when you are already stressed. Think of the last time you were late for an appointment. If something negative happens then (such as dropping your keys or not finding your books), you are more likely to get upset than if you had all the time in the world. 

The best course of action is to effectively manage your stress levels. You know what helps you to relax. Sometimes it is a practical solution (such as managing your time), and other times it will be about creating balance in your life (exercising and listening to music). 

Belief systems and perspectives

If you strongly believe that all people must do the right thing all the time or that nothing should ever go wrong – you are setting yourself up for endless frustration. The way we perceive or interpret a situation influences how we feel about it. 

Professor Brené Brown shares that she aims to live her life assuming that everyone is trying their very best. She has no idea if this is true or not, but she experiences more happiness as a result. Developing empathy and cognitive flexibility can thus help you become less angry at people and situations. 

Remember, ALL emotions are normal and welcome. They are there to give us a message. Try listening to them instead of trying to push them away. Your most important action is to choose your response to them. 

For more in-depth information on frustration, tolerance and management, read edition 12 of #WellBeingWarriors below.

Download edition 12: The Art of (not creating) War

Download edition 12: The Art of (not creating) War (AU Version)


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#WellbeingWarriors Editions



Important telephone and online resources

Student Counselling and Development
Email to SCD@ufs.ac.za / SCDQQ@ufs.ac.za / SCDSouth@ufs.ac.za

Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Line (24/7)

0800 70 80 90 / 0800 567 567 / 0800 13 14 15

ADHD Helpline (08:00 – 20:00)
0800 55 44 33

Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit (24/7)
0861 43 57 87

Befrienders Bloemfontein (24/7)
Email to befriend@iafrica.com
+27 51 444 5000

SADAG Helpline (24/7)
0800 456 789 SMS: 31393

SADAG Mental Health Line (24/7)
+27 11 234 4837

SADAG Suicide Crisis Line (24/7)
0800 567 567

Alternative Mental Health Resources

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Other Resources

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