Latest #WellbeingWarriors

Edition 38: Self-Awareness: An Examined Life is Worth Living

Do you aspire to continuously create better versions of yourself? The first step in mastering your life and being proactive in creating your preferred future is self-awareness.

Self-awareness is not a singular truth. It is a very intricate balance of distinct, possibly even contending, perspectives – that of our internal and external selves.

Internal self-awareness: How clearly do we view our own values, strengths, weaknesses, behaviours, thoughts, feelings, and aspirations. Internal self-awareness is associated with happiness; personal and social control; and increased relationship and job satisfaction. It is also negatively related to stress, anxiety, and low mood.

External self-awareness: Understanding how others view us in terms of the above listed internal factors. It allows us to see things from the perspective of others.

There are various avenues to construct increased self-knowledge and reaping the many rewards it delivers. Here are three of the most effective ways to cultivate self-awareness:

1. Journal

Process your thoughts, viewpoints, and awareness by writing a journal. Identify an area in your life that you need or want to change. A written expression can help us identify and understand certain mental and situational patterns that significantly impact our life and goals.

2. Seek feedback

Many times, we struggle to see and understand how our behaviour impact certain situations. Obtaining feedback from trusted sources may assist us in becoming aware of our blind spots. A blind spot is something that is present and has an impact on our lives, even though we are unaware of its influence. It helps to recognise aspects of ourselves or situations that we are oblivious to.

3. Practise paying attention

Very often, we behave on autopilot, reacting to situations automatically and impulsively, with little awareness of how our own and others’ reactions affect the conditions of a situation. Sometimes, we are distracted or fused with our own internal experiences in such a way that we notice less. This can be detrimental. Practise being more present through mindfulness and meditation exercises. Learn to pause before responding, ask more questions to understand the motives and behaviours of others, and embrace silences.

So, as you can see, self-awareness is essential. It can potentially enhance virtually all our experiences, grounds us in the moment, assists us in evaluating ourselves and the situation realistically, and enables us to make positive choices.



EDITION 37: Managing Trauma 

2020 has been an unpredictable year of life in general, especially for students navigating their path through new ways of learning. You have encountered challenges, but also made great strides in achieving the goals you set out for yourself at the start of the year. 

As the year draws to an end, this may be a conflicting time filled with mixed emotions, uncertainty, regret, and even trauma. 

See poster below for more information about common reactions to trauma, and quick tips about how to deal with it.
 



Edition 36:
The Aftermath of Graduating

You are fast approaching your final exams; one more hurdle to cross, then you can feel the freedom. Bliss, right? This period can be a roller coaster of emotions – filled with excitement, anxiety, anticipation, exhaustion, or hope. For many years you knew what was expected of you; you had to follow a schedule, complete assignments, write tests, and abide by certain rules. However, what happens now, after graduation? Obtaining your qualification is an incredible achievement; you should celebrate and be proud. With the conclusion of this chapter, you are beginning to narrate a new chapter. Let’s have a look at the holistic view you can take to help you prepare for this next phase.  
 
The most obvious answer would be – find employment! And yes, it is an excellent step in the right direction. However, readiness for life after university is about so much more. It is about adjustment, autonomy, unfamiliarity, smart decision making, a realistic mindset, and persisting in demanding environments.   

Adjusting to Change 

Numerous changes await you after university. These could include different accommodation, financial responsibilities, new environments, a changed routine, being independent, and forming new social circles. For some of you, this may sound like an exciting new challenge, while for others, this may be terrifying. Regardless of your emotions, change during this time is inevitable, and you would need to rise to the occasion. To assist in making this adjustment to change more manageable, avoid comparing yourself to others. Focus on your strengths and opportunities, making the best of your situation. Reach out to people who have gained experience within the areas you are struggling to adapt to; you do not have to reinvent the wheel yourself. Here are some more tips on how to deal with change.  
 
From Graduate to Jobseeker 

The unemployment and work-seekers rate in South Africa are a continuous challenge. Having a qualification gives you an advantage, but it does not guarantee that you will find employment after university. At this point, it is essential to focus on what is within your control. This includes creating a curriculum vitae, networking, undertaking internship opportunities, doing your research, and applying for a variety of different positions. Make use of UFS Career Services. They assist with creating a CV/resumé, interview skills, career fairs, and much more.  



Edition 35:
 Message Received! Don’t Blue-Tick Your Emotions 

Focus on what you are feeling right now. Happy? Sad? Irritated? Anxious? Or perhaps a mixture of emotions? Emotions are part of our human experience. To feel (at times intensely) is often what makes our lives more meaningful. However, we frequently prefer not to feel anything, especially when what we are feeling is unpleasant. 

First, we need to understand the purpose of emotions: 

Our emotions are continually sending us messages. They contain vital information about an aspect (or aspects) in our lives that requires us to pay more attention. Sometimes, emotions tell us where we urgently need to make changes to improve our well-being. Other times, they warn us to set boundaries in our lives, or they may help us become aware of how deeply we care for someone. 

Naming emotions 

Research has shown that once we can accurately identify our emotions, we already feel better and can effectively communicate our feelings to others. Improving our emotional vocabulary will assist with this. Take the time needed to identify what you are feeling and the possible triggers or reasons for this. Do not be scared of being honest with yourself and others about what you are feeling. All emotions are normal. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable by voicing our feelings shows courage, not weakness.  

Constructively use emotional energy  

The energy we experience while feeling a specific emotion (such as anger or anxiety), can be overwhelming. Learn how to channel that energy in healthy ways. Physical exercise, listening to music, or doing something creative (writing/painting) can be beneficial in decreasing the intensity of some emotions. Once this energy begins to subside, we are better able to listen and respond to our emotions effectively. 

Practise self-compassion 

While we are experiencing difficult emotions, it is vital to practise self-compassion either by actions (such as self-care) or being gentler with your thoughts. So, instead of self-blame or feeling guilty about your emotions, remind yourself that you are human and acknowledge that you are going through a difficult time.  

When we are able to see emotions as our ‘helpful messenger’ instead of our enemy, we will reap the rewards of experiencing all of our feelings. Emotions will become our motivator, energy, and guide. See attached documents for full article.



Edition 34: Loving You, Loving Me: Building Healthy Relationships

Relationships are a big part of being human. You may have heard the saying ‘no man is an island’. It is true in that all of us live, work, and socialise through relating with others. From birth to old age, we need others. You may have had your fair share of ups and downs in numerous relationships, as we all do. It is essential to know what constitutes a healthy relationship so that you know how to build one, and when to end one that is not beneficial to your well-being. 

Respect; communication; boundaries; honesty and trust; individuality; forgiveness; compromise; dealing with distorted beliefs and owning your thoughts; efficient problem solving; and love languages are most of the elements that make up, and build, a healthy relationship.   

See documents below for the full article with more information on aspects that are sure to help you build healthy, fulfilling relationships. It may also help you identify where some relationships are lacking, or if they are indeed healthy – work towards garnering it into each of the relationships in your life. 



Edition 33: A flow state of mind: Staying focused within your studies 

Many times, while you are participating in a task or event, you get a feeling of being ‘in the zone’. This ‘in the zone’ can also be referred to as flow. Terms like these are often associated with sport – we can, however, achieve this within our academics too. When you succeed in creating flow within your studies, you can improve your academic performance (helping you achieve your goals), as well as enhance your general well-being. 

What is flow? 

A formal definition describes flow as ‘a mental state where the individual is completely immersed in an activity and fully engaged in the enjoyment thereof’. Creating a state of flow within your academics will not only help you with concentration and focus, but you may also experience increased joy from your studies. Getting ‘in the zone’ or experiencing flow may happen naturally/by coincidence, but you can also purposefully do certain things to achieve flow. Below are some ideas to consider: 

Avoid any distractions 

Things such as social media, series/movies, or your phone can easily distract you. When you want to achieve a state of flow, it requires your full attention. Try to remove all distractions (such as putting away your phone), as any of these distractions will break your focus and prevent you from achieving flow. 

Goal clarity 

Have a clear plan of what you would like to achieve. Try to focus on smaller goals, such as finishing the first chapter, instead of focusing on ALL the work that you have to study. 

Challenge-to-skills ratio
 

If your goal is too big, it will lead to anxiety, and most often to procrastination. If your goal is too small, it might lead to you becoming bored. Find the right balance so that the task is still challenging, but also reachable. Research indicates that increasing the difficulty or quantity of a task by just 5% can lead to increased motivation to complete it, without overwhelming you. For example, if you usually study 20 pages within a certain allocated time, aim to study 21 pages in the same amount of time.  

Studying might not always be easy and enjoyable. Still, it is within your control how you would like to experience your academics. Keep in mind that there are resources, such as flow, to help you make your studies more gratifying. 

See full article below for more information.



EDITION 32: The Role of Career Counselling in your Journey 

2020 has been an unpredictable year of life in general, especially for students navigating their path through new ways of learning. You have encountered challenges, but also made great strides in achieving the goals you set out for yourself at the start of the year. Congratulations on reaching this point! Your courage, perseverance, and resilience are acknowledged and celebrated. 

As the year draws to an end, this may be a conflicting time filled with mixed emotions, uncertainty, and sometimes even regret. It is understandable for students to feel this way, and to question various aspects of their career, irrespective of the year or level of studies you are currently in.  

How exactly should I go about determining the next step in developing my career? 

Whether you are aware of it or not, your career journey started way back in your younger years. The ultimate career choice you embarked on when you started your first year at university, has in many ways been influenced over time by your learning, experiences, family, educators, media, and role models, to name a few. The process of developing your career is an ongoing and critical one, as your career is a crucial aspect of life with a profound impact on your lifestyle, happiness, and well-being. It is therefore only fitting that you carefully think through all your decisions. 

The role and importance of career counselling
  

One way of effectively developing your career is through career counselling. Career counselling allows you to engage with a professional (psychologist or counsellor) in conversations and assessments that can assist you in making more informed decisions. It is a comprehensive process that includes an intake interview, complete psychometric analysis, and intensive decision-making processes.  

Career Development Toolbox

Developing your career on your own requires you to be curious about your future career and the world of work. A few essentials you will need in your career development toolbox include goal setting; flexibility; believing in yourself; being open to change; being intentional, resourceful, and realistic; and being able to embrace failure.

Make sure that you seek out everything you need to be empowered to make the choices that best suit you as you move through the various stages of your career journey. 

For the full article with elaborate information on your career development toolbox, as well as the importance of career counselling, see documents below.




EDITION 31:
S
top scrolling and start living

Do you ever log in to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, thinking that you will check your social media quickly and then get back to whatever you were doing? But instead, that minute turns into hours of mindless scrolling, and you end up feeling dissatisfied with your life? ‘Mindless scrolling’ has become a habit for most people. What many don't realise, is how the time we spend on social media might be affecting our overall psychological well-being. 

This article is intended to create awareness about the impact that social media has on our psychological well-being and provides tips and tools for managing your time on social media. 

Benefits of Social Media 

Social media is useful in that it brings people together for a common cause; it starts conversations that seek to make the world safe and inclusive.  It can help create awareness.  Moreover, social media helps us to stay connected with loved ones and brings us together. It also allows us to discover new ideas and trends that may bring excitement into our lives. 

Dangers of Social Media 

But what happens when we are not mindful of how we interact with these social-media platforms?  
• Social media can promote physical standards that are often unrealistic, causing many to be dissatisfied with their appearance. Essentially, social media can lead to a negative body image and diminish self-esteem.  
• People may also seek validation from social media, and in the process act in ways that are not in line with their values. 
• Bullying has always been an issue in communities. However, social media offers anonymity and people can hide behind fake accounts to torment and abuse their targets.   
 • Social-media multitasking affects your attention. 
• Do you ever feel lonely and isolated, even though you have 500 Facebook friends? Sometimes we all need real human interaction, and the more time we spend on social media, the less skilled we become in face-to-face interactions.  

Some Tips 

1. Set SMART goals. Why are you on social media in the first place? Put social media to work for you, not against you. 
2. Delete all apps that you do not need. 
3. Turn off notifications and have a scheduled time to check messages. 

If you need psychosocial support, contact us:

Bloemfontein Campus: +27 51 401 2853 / scd@ufs.ac.za  Health and Counselling Building, First Floor 
South Campus: +27 51 505 1298 / scdsouth@ufs.ac.za  Bohale B Building, Room B119 
Qwaqwa Campus:  +27 58 718 5032 / 5029 / 5033 scdqq@ufs.ac.za  Intsika Building, First Floor 

Something to watch: 
The Social Dilemma on Netflix 
Ted Talk: Why you should Quit Social Media

For full article, see documents below.




Edition 30:
Strengthening Your Psychological Immune System

Ever wondered how two people can go through similar hardships, but react entirely differently? It is similar to the COVID-19 pandemic; why do some people get mild symptoms while seemingly healthy individuals are critically affected?  

This article explores how you can strengthen your psychological immune system to help protect yourself from mental-health difficulties. The psychological immunity that could help your mental well-being under challenging times is referred to as ‘protective factors’. Protective factors help to prevent the development, or worsening, of mental-health difficulties. These factors incorporate a holistic view by looking at the individual, familial, and community aspects.  

Individual factors include healthy lifestyle choices, meaningful interpersonal relationships, effective problem-solving skills, and healthy self-esteem.  Among others, this includes interpersonal skills, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and healthy thinking.

Quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” 

Familial factors detail the amount of support received, or sought, from loved ones.  This includes adequate social and emotional support, nurturing environment, social activity, family boundaries, and autonomy. 

Community factors include the sense of belonging, opportunities for meaningful exploration, and support systems to assist in your overall mental well-being. Friendships – having deep, meaningful relationships outside of your family can significantly contribute to your well-being, feeling accepted, and reducing feelings of isolation. Connectedness to adults outside of the family, access to appropriate mental-health services, and the presence of mentors also fall into this category. 

We have NO control over what life throws at us. We do have control over how we nurture our protective factors to build a healthy psychological immune system. A strong psychological immune system will help you through challenging times. See attached documents for the full explanation of individual, familial, and community factors that can aid your psychological immunity.




EDITION 29: Be a Solution Seeker: Tips on Problem-Solving

Problem solving entails the methods we use to understand what is happening in our environment, to identify things we want to change, and then figure out the things that need to be done to create the desired outcome. It is also the source of new inventions, and the basis for continuous improvement, communication, and learning. 

See video below for effective tips on how to be a solution keeper and how to tackle your problems.: 




 EDITION 28: #SuicidePreventionMonth

World Suicide Prevention Day is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year to encourage worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicide, with various activities around the world since 2003.
See poster below for information on how you can help and support someone who may be suicidal. The poster also details methods of coping with suicidal thoughts and highlights the warning signs of suicide.


Suicide prevention Posters draft 3-1
Suicide prevention Posters draft_2
Suicide prevention Posters_3


EDITION 27: Stop Beating Yourself Up – Become a Self-Love Warrior!

How we think about ourselves can have a profound impact on our overall wellbeing. When we feel bad about ourselves, it can lead to a variety of negative effects, such as emotional and behavioral challenges. A low (or unhealthy) self-esteem can lead to feelings of anxiety and unhappiness. Behavioral issues such as procrastination and substance misuse can often be linked to low self-esteem. 

People with low self-esteem often have severe doubts about their capabilities and self-worth. This may lead to anxiety when in social situations or when they need to perform certain tasks. Having negative views about yourself frequently leads to excessive fear of judgement or rejection by others. This elevated concern about what others may think of you (and wanting to be accepted by others), is a sure-fire way to repeated disappointments and heartache. 

One of the biggest pitfalls in developing self-esteem is that people tend to place their self-worth on qualities or things that can fade away. This article is a brief introduction to the journey of self-acceptance. 

Understand your self-esteem 

Although it is not essential to know why it formed, it can be beneficial to understand what may have had an impact on your self-esteem. Reflect back over your life – what significant events do you think could have contributed to your negative self-beliefs? 

Become aware of how you self-sabotage and seek out healthier actions and kinder thoughts. 
We tend to judge ourselves according to one negative aspect, instead of realising that we are so much more. Learn to see yourself holistically, instead of focusing on your one or two flaws. 
Focus on living according to your values, and not your fears or what others may think of you. See documents below for the full article.




EDITION 26: Effective Communication

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. To convey a clear message, and to take ownership of your words. This 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.

In the twentieth edition of the #WellbeingWarriors campaign, the importance of effective communication was identified as an essential element in maintaining any type of relationship, ensuring that there is understanding between you and the person you are communicating with.

Please watch the video below for more tips on how to communicative effectively



EDITION 25: Focus Determines Reality: A Warrior's Guide to Goal Setting

In the words of Mark Twain: "Without dreams and goals, there is no living, only merely existing, and that is not why we are here."

You might be feeling like you have a lot of dreams, leading you to feel too overwhelmed to pursue them. You may also have many goals, but you do not know how to get there.

Have you ever considered how to set goals that you will follow or how to pursue your dreams? This article is aimed at helping you to set goals that will keep you motivated and help you stay on track with your academic tasks. Goals will further motivate you to do your work, to attend classes, and study for tests and exams.

Quote by Greg B. Reid: “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed up by action makes your dreams come true.”

WHAT IS GOAL SETTING?
Goal setting is to identify something that you want to achieve and determining a process and time frame to accomplish it. All of us have been setting goals since a very young age, although we were probably not aware of it. Think of a kid whose goal it was to learn to ride a bicycle; even though the bicycle was too big, they worked out a plan to master it. Goal setting is helpful in all areas of your life. Once you start to set goals in one area of your life, it makes it easier with other areas too. Setting progressive goals that allow small wins, helps you to move on to more significant achievements. These small goals lead to progress, help to build momentum, and make you feel fulfilled and happy.

SETTING GOALS THAT YOU WILL ACCOMPLISH

Goal Competition

Setting multiple goals at once could lead to your goals competing for your time and energy, making it difficult to achieve your objectives. In other words, you need to dedicate the same amount of time and energy to completing different goals to avoid goal competition. Rather, break down your goals. It is essential to organise your priorities; by doing so, you see progress much faster as you are focused on one target at a time.

Think about trying to grow multiple seeds in one pot. When the seeds sprout, it is difficult for them to share one space, and it then requires you to separate them into different containers. A similar process is needed for goals, as they may compete for our time, and we need to allocate enough time to each goal. Breaking down your goals will help you with full growth and optimal achievement.

Set SMART goals 
Setting SMART goals means that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. It is easy to set a goal, but it is challenging to be precise or give a detailed plan for reaching your goal. Research shows that the probability of accomplishing your goals relies on how accurate you are when planning. 

Specific: When developing a specific plan for achieving your goal, you need to be able to answer when, where, and how you will accomplish your goal. For example, I want to finish the first draft of my essay by 17:00 today. Another way of planning involves habit stacking, which is linking your new goals with something you are already doing daily. For example, after drinking my morning coffee, I will start with draft one of my essay. You can learn more about stacking habits in the guide, Transform your habits. 
Measurable: You must measure your goals. Do not just say you are going to study Psychology for an hour, but also state which chapter or how many pages you will complete in that hour. For example, I am going to study Psychology, Chapter one, from 13:00 to14:00. 

Achievable: When setting goals, consider your abilities and strengths. It is better to initially have moderately challenging goals than setting your targets too high. For example, you are doing Psychology for the first time at university, so it might not be wise to aim for 90%; rather aim for 65% to 80%. 
Realistic: Your goal should be something that is within your reach and should be related to your present and future. 
Timely: Provide a realistic time frame for achieving your goal. For instance, to complete my BSc degree by the end of 2022 with distinctions in my two major subjects, is a well-formulated and time-framed goal.

Include an upper bound
Have you ever heard of lower and upper bound when setting goals? Let me explain and give an example. An upper bound is a maximum limit or threshold to achieve a goal, and the lower bound is the minimum. Your goal might be "I want to finish the introduction for my essay by 10:00". If you were to add an upper bound, you would say, "I want to finish my introduction by 10:00 (upper bound), but no later than noon (lower bound)". Another example is, “I want to write at least two pages (lower bound) of my assignment today, but not more than four pages (upper bound)". When we set goals, we always aim for a lower bound, which is what we want to achieve. 

The truth is – what can make you complete your lower bound is your upper bound. If you have a maximum limit, you start thinking that if you can achieve the acceptable minimum (lower bound), then you can reach more. The most important thing is to reach your lower bound, so setting the acceptable upper limit gives you the strength to reach it and makes it easier for you to keep reaching your goals.

Sustain your habits and set an upper bound when goal setting. 
Take note that your goals may change as time goes on, therefore be flexible and open to new inspirations. Keep challenging yourself with new and revised goals. Use goal exploration to keep yourself on track with your targets. 

Quote by Andrew Carnegie: "If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.




EDITION 24: Ubuntu: The Human Spirit

As you navigate your way through this ‘new normal’, it is of the utmost importance to remember that you are human, ungumntu. None of us have ever experienced COVID-19 or the lockdown before. Therefore, it is natural that you may be feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Now, the good news is that it is not a hopeless situation. 
 
You are not alone, as everything you are experiencing – the Kovsie community, South Africans, and the world at large are also going through it. Therefore, please be kind to yourself by acknowledging your humanness.  What this essentially means, is to be open to ask for help. As you realise what your needs are during this time, know that other people have the same or similar needs. Furthermore, as much as you need others, they also need you. 

What is Ubuntu?

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”.  

Ubuntu can be defined, interpreted, and expressed in various ways: 

‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’: A person is a person because of other people. 'I am because you are, and you are because we are.’ I am okay if you are okay. Shared experience: The human experience is shared – whether it is grief, pain, danger, change, joy, laughter, achievement, food, houses, etc. Culture of empathy: Being empathetic. I see you. 

Ubuntu is reciprocal: It is about extending a helping hand to others as well as being vulnerable enough to ask for help when you need it. 

Reflection Exercise

Reflect for a moment on the past few months. What are the specific challenges you have personally gone through, and what or who helped you through those challenges? Was it your family, friends, neighbours, classmates, or even strangers? Did you rely on your character, your beliefs, your willpower, or your hope for the future? Once you have identified your source of support, know that someone also needs your help during this time. Challenge yourself to embrace your humanity and intentionally live it out in your everyday life. Just remember that you cannot give to others what you have not first given to yourself. A little kindness goes a long way in improving your mental health and overall well-being. 

For more information on the benefits of Ubuntu, healthiness in kindness, living out your values through Ubuntu in action, read the full article by clicking on the documents below. The U in Ubuntu means it starts with you. 




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)




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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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