Latest Information: #WellbeingWarriors
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)



EDITION 11: A Warrior’s Guide to Combating Online Learning Challenges

Flexibility, freedom, self-paced studying, a comfortable learning environment. I mean – what could be better than attending class in your pyjamas!? You may agree that these are some of the advantages of online learning. However, there can be a dark side to online learning. This article hopes to shed some light on the possible negative effects and how to combat these challenges.
 
Peer interaction is greatly reduced in an online learning environment. Social isolation can cause loneliness, which could increase symptoms of anxiety and feelings of sadness. Negative thinking patterns could be exasperated in individuals who are prone to get lost in despondent thoughts. It is normal for a person struggling with anxiety to want to connect with others, and to be surrounded by other people can help boost your mood. The goal of social distancing is to be physically separated, but not lonely.  

Practise self-compassion. Lockdown and social distancing are tough. Show yourself kindness if you experience negative emotions or destructive thoughts. 

Procrastination: 
Procrastination can be a major problem, affecting online learning and academic performance. Keep a schedule. Make use of a daily planner to schedule all academic-related tasks. Break large intimidating tasks into smaller manageable pieces. Figure out your distractions and eliminate them while studying.  
Spending an extended amount of time working on a computer or smartphone can have negative effects on your body. This includes eyestrain, headaches, sleeping difficulties, fatigue, and muscle tension. These negative physical effects can lead to unproductivity and adversely affect your learning.  

When using any form of digital screen for long periods, use the 20-20-20 rule. After every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20-second break to look at something at least 20 feet (6 metres) away. 

Prepare for all academic activities in advance to avoid last minute cramming sessions on your electronic device. It has many challenges that could lead to poor academic performance if not addressed properly. See attached document for more tips and strategies to help reduce the possible negative effects of online learning and be your key to success in your studies.  

Download edition 11: A Warrior’s Guide to Combating Online Learning Challenges

Download edition 11: A Warrior’s Guide to Combating Online Learning Challenges (UA Version) 




EDITION 10: A Warrior Needs Sleep to Fight Another Day!

How often do you hear people complaining that they did not get enough sleep or constantly struggle to sleep? Good quality sleep is important for enhanced cognitive functioning. A lack of good quality sleep has been compared to the same decrease in cognitive functioning as being drunk. Ideally, we should get approximately seven to nine hours of sleep per night.  

How to improve sleeping habits (also referred to as sleep hygiene) 
Routine: go to bed every night at more or less the same time. Research has indicated that students who have a regular sleep routine tend to perform better at university. A good quality sleep pattern is more beneficial than the quantity of sleep. Thus, it is vital to establish an effective sleep routine.  
Only nap if you need to, and keep it short. A nap shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes. The longer you sleep during the day, the less tired you will be when trying to fall asleep at night. A nap shouldn’t be a habit, but only something you do if you are tired. 

Various factors can lead to a decrease in the quality or quantity of your sleep. The lack of proper quality sleep can have a negative impact on your studies and psychological health. By following good sleep hygiene, you can enjoy many benefits, such as improved physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

See attached document for more information.

Download edition 10: A Warrior Needs Sleep to Fight Another Day!

Download edition 10: A Warrior Needs Sleep to Fight Another Day! (Universal Access Version)



EDITION 9: Resilient Warriors are created in Times of War, Not Peace

You have two choices when faced with adversity. One, you can let it define you and your life, or two, you can use it to contribute to your personal growth and development. 

The most resilient people are often those who have experienced many difficulties in their lives. No one is exempt from adversities. Nobody can avoid pain and discomfort, although it is a normal human reaction to try. It is more helpful to develop resilience, instead of trying to falsely hope that nothing bad will ever happen to us. 

Studies show that resilient people can manage their emotions, keep calm in difficult situations, and seek opportunities for growth. Instead of asking “why me?” ask, “what can I learn from this?” 

Methods to build resilience

1. Self-regulation 
Self-regulation means controlling one’s behaviour, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals. A resilient person still feels pain and negative emotions, they are just able to choose healthier ways of dealing with it. 
For example, instead of binge drinking after an academic or romantic disappointment, you choose to rather reach out to your support system or reflect on what worked and what didn’t. 

2. Cognitive flexibility 

Cognitive flexibility is mental shifting that allows you to adapt quickly to changes or new situations. Now more than ever, we need to be able to adapt to our constantly changing situation. Being flexible, means you are able to look at difficulties from a different perspective. 

3. Hope (it's not only a feeling, it is an action) 

Many people think of hope as an emotional state. In many ways this is not incorrect, but it is not completely correct either. Although feelings are essential in the process of hope, so too are action and thinking. 

Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” 

4. An Attitude of Gratitude 
Developing an attitude of gratitude holds the potential for building your resilience during difficult times, as well as making you a generally happier person. In fact, research shows that gratitude can improve relationships, increase physical and psychological health, improve sleep, increase self-esteem, increase empathy, reduce aggression, and build mental strength. 

Keep a Gratitude Journal 
Once a week, write in a gratitude journal, highlighting three to five people, activities, situations, or things that you appreciated during the week. 

Here are some tips to help you with your gratitude journal: 

PROTIP 1: Be specific: Reflect on your week and visualise the person, act, event, or thing you are grateful for. Recount specific details, words, or actions, and how it felt. 
PROTIP 2: Focus on people you are grateful for, rather than things. This tends to elicit greater gratitude rewards than when we express gratitude for inanimate objects. 
PROTIP 3: Consider how things could potentially be worse. Focusing on why something could be worse leads to gratitude. 

Resilience is about preparing ourselves. Like a tree that continuously grows its roots stronger and deeper to withstand eventual storms and gales, it takes deliberate mental and external action and commitment on our part to build resilience. There are many different ways to cultivate resilience, mostly you need to utilise the power of your mind and the energy of your soul. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” 

For more information on how to build resilience, read edition 9 #WellBeingWarriors below. 

Download edition 9: Resilient Warriors are created in Times of War, Not Peace

Download edition 9: Resilient Warriors are created in Times of War, Not Peace (UAP)




EDITION 8: Mind Power!

It is well documented that the mind is incredibly powerful … and mind power is one of the most valuable and effective strengths you possess.

This power lies in your way of thinking. Your predominant thoughts prompt your behaviour, emotions, and attitude and dictate your actions and reactions. Your thoughts have a powerful impact on your life.
What if I we told you that it is possible to make lasting, significant changes to our brain structure and function through a simple activity that we do throughout every day?

Santiago Ramón y Cajal once said, “Any man could, if he were so inclined, be the sculptor of his own brain.” We can rewire our brains just by thinking! As we learn and adapt our thought processes, our brain literally remodels itself based on our new experiences.

Let’s jump right into the good stuff – techniques that you can use to shift your focus, direct your thoughts, adjust your mind, and start to change your brain connections. These can easily be done right in the comfort of your home, for free, and with next to no effort: 

Visualisation
To visualise is simply a mental rehearsal. The brain can’t tell the difference between something real or imagined. When you mentally rehearse your new habits, you strengthen your ability to create them in your life.

Affirmations
By pronouncing a simple and very powerful statement, either quietly to yourself or out loud, you affirm what it is that you aspire to. When you verbalise something and repeat it to yourself, it will influence your thoughts – this is why affirmations are successful.

Eliminate negative thinking
- Train your conscious mind to think about what you want in life and avoid thinking about what you don’t want.
- You cannot think both negative and positive thoughts at the same time, as one will always dominate the other. So, we must make sure empowering thoughts and positive emotions are the dominating influence in our mind.
- Learn to weed out negativities such as worry and fear and keep your mind busy with expectations of the best.

Reflect on past successes
- Every success you have had, big or small, is proof that you are capable of achieving more.

- Shift your focus to your strengths, your capacity for change, and what you are most proud of.
Focus your attention on creating a new reality 

Everything begins with a decision – decide now to be in charge of your own vivid description of reality.

Develop a realistic sense of control and utilise what you’ve got by asking yourself the following: 
- What is within my control? 
- What would I like to see continue happening / happening more often? 
- What makes me capable of greatness? 

The science of neuroplasticity has proven that mastering your thinking through the regular practise of the above techniques will imprint quicker and have a more lasting effect than irregular attempts. Why not start immediately? A new life is but a new mind.

For more insight on how to optimise your mind power, read through the documents below.

Download edition 8: Mind Power! 

Download edition 8: Mind Power! (Universal Access Version)




EDITION 7: United We Stand

Due to social distancing rules and the current period of national lockdown, it is very likely that you may be feeling isolated at times. This feeling of isolation is more difficult for some people than for others and may even lead to you experiencing some unpleasant feelings at times, such as sadness, anxiety, and even frustration. 

Social support is an important contributor to maintaining your mental well-being, as it 

• provides you with a sense of belonging (which is one of our basic human needs); 
• creates a space where you can comfortably express your feelings; and
• helps you understand that you are not alone or weird in your feelings and experiences. 

Although things are out of the ordinary now and our physical movement is restricted, we can still access social support through technology. Use the resources available to you and try reaching out to people, rather than waiting for someone to check on you first. 

Brené Brown once said, “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” 

Below are some specific ways in which technology and social support can be combined during lockdown in order to beat the feeling of isolation: 

A connected mindset 
Connect with your family and friends by going online. Things such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp can instantly connect you to others. However, make sure that you use social media to improve your mental health, and be careful not to let it make you feel even worse. Connect with people who are supportive and uplifting and unfollow or block people who continuously post things that upset you. 

Remain optimistic 
Search for uplifting and inspirational articles, books, recipes, exercise tips, and humorous videos and share them with your friends and family. There are many uplifting people and pages to follow on the internet. Also try to focus on things that you are grateful for in your life. 

Gather the troops 
Get your friends together and be each other’s ‘accountability buddies’. Check in on each other daily to see if you are all sticking to your goals, maintaining your daily routines and study schedules, and exercising on a regular basis (there are many free exercise videos on YouTube). 
Practise kindness and compassion 

Remember that your friends, family, and fellow community members are probably also struggling during the lockdown. Helping others can increase your sense of purpose and value. A message of encouragement or helping the elderly are some examples of kindness. 

By thinking differently about what social connection and social support means and by using the above tips, you may be physically isolated but still emotionally connected. 


Download edition 7: United We Stand



SIXTH EDITION: Making Emotionally Intelligent Decisions

Stephen Covey once said, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.”

The uncertainties about the future uncovered by the COVID-19 global pandemic have left many students with the need to make various academic and personal decisions. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is your ability to identify and manage your emotions and those of others so that you can make better decisions. 
EQ is the consequence of self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Self-awareness
Self-awareness is the ability to recognise a feeling as it happens. Your self-awareness can help you understand how your emotions around the pandemic might be influencing your decisions. It is important to guard against making your decision based entirely on how you feel.

Ask yourself these questions:
- What am I trying to achieve?
- What am I doing that is working?
- What am I doing that is slowing me down?
- What can I do to adjust?

Self-regulation
When you understand your emotions, you will be able to manage them more effectively in your decision-making process. The goal is to find balance between how you feel and the facts of the situation.
Many students are feeling anxious, and the fact about studying during the pandemic is that teaching will mainly be conducted online. Instead of allowing the anxiety to turn you into a chronic worrier, think of practical steps you can take to cope effectively with your academics.

Self-motivation
Your level of motivation will determine your ability to focus on your studies and to pay attention. Staying motivated requires delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness. According to Daniel Goleman, author, internationally renowned psychologist, and science journalist, “being able to get into the ‘flow’ state enables outstanding performance of all kinds”.

Click here for a definition of flow.

Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I know how to motivate myself to do the things that are important to me?
- Am I motivated by internal or external factors?

Empathy
Part of being able to respond to the emotions of others, is having empathy. Developing empathy skills enhances our experiences, relationships, and general understanding of ourselves, other people, and the world around us. Understanding how the pandemic is affecting other students can help you cultivate self-compassion. Self-compassion will help you to be more kind to yourself, regardless of what academic or personal decisions you make during this time.

Ask yourself:
- Do I need to connect with other students to understand how others are coping with similar challenges?
We may react differently, but pain and fear are universal. We all experience pain and fear but may express it differently. We can all learn from each other.

Social skills
Being able to manage the emotions of others constructively, is an essential part of EQ. People with a high EQ are often seen as likeable, calm, and easy to work with.

Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I seek cooperation and helpfulness when dealing with others?
- Am I better at solving problems alone or with the support of others?
- Am I better at resolving conflicts and negotiating disagreements?

If you would like to cultivate a higher level of EQ and effectively express traits of self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills, read carefully through the documents below.

Download edition 6: Making Emotionally Intelligent Decisions

Download edition 6: Making Emotionally Intelligent Decisions (Universal Access Version)




FIFTH EDITIONS: Mindfulness

Anxiety is an emotional state that happens in both our minds and in our bodies.

In our minds, anxiety often presents as worry about the future. This can include ‘what if’ thinking; predictions or fortune telling; and catastrophising.

Physiologically, anxiety can be experienced in the form of tension; feeling on edge; sweaty palms; a racing heart; feeling nauseous; shortness of breath; a reduced or increased appetite; and difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.

Below are three ways to effectively use ‘mindfulness’ to reduce your anxiety and stress:

1. Healthy body, healthy mind.
2. Focus your mind and attention on the only moment we ever have: the present
3. Practise mindfulness and compassion: Let it RAIN

The well-known mindfulness teacher, Tara Brach, proposes the RAIN approach to mindful
meditation when struggling with difficult emotions or situations. RAIN is an acronym for:

Recognise, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture. When meditating (as in step 2 above), you may experience difficult thoughts or feelings, especially when your mind wanders and you become identified with the feeling or thought.

Make room for the experience and allow it to be, just as it is. The poet Rumi said: “Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.” Investigate your experience with the curiosity and openness of a child. Where do you feel this thought or feeling in your body? Are there times you notice it visiting you more often than others? Investigate how your mind responds to this experience. Finally, nurture yourself. Acknowledge that this is difficult. Give yourself some kind and compassionate words.

Kristin Neff, an international promoter of self-compassion, suggests a compassionate mantra for difficult moments. What matters is that it provides you with a sense of hope, support, compassion, and love.
The mantra is: This is a moment of suffering; suffering is part of life. May I give myself the love and kindness I need right now. May I open my heart and give myself the care I need.

Remember that these approaches are not magical solutions and will not necessarily work for everyone in all circumstances. If you, or anyone you know, struggles with severe anxiety or mental-health challenges, please reach out to trained mental-health professionals. You may also use or share these toll-free numbers:

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) Suicide Crisis Line: 0800 567 567
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline: 0800 70 80 90
Cipla WhatsApp Chat Line: +27 76 882 2775

Download edition 5: Using Mindfulness to Calm Anxiety

Download edition 5: Using Mindfulness to Calm Anxiety (Universal Access Version)




FOURTH EDITION:
Worrier to Warrior: Dealing with Uncertainty


Living with uncertainty can be unsettling and provoke anxiety. Our brains are continuously making judgements about what is safe and what is not and will do almost anything for the sake of certainty. This could lead to overestimating threats and underestimating your ability to handle them – all in the name of survival! When we face uncertainty about the future, situations and events can feel like they are out of our control. This often triggers negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, and anger – emotions that we try to avoid.

10 tips on how to deal with uncertainty
1. Acknowledge your feelings and emotions
2. Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control
3. Realistic expectations
4. Control what you can
5. Take your own advice
6. Seek support from those you trust
7. Maintain your normal day-to-day activities and routines (as much as possible)
8. Engage in self-care
9. Practice mindfulness
10. Focus on resiliency

The human spirit is remarkably resilient. Think back to your moments of overcoming adversity. We all have that resilience within us. We need to be reminded of it during times of uncertainty.

The uncertainty can keep you up at night, obsessing over ways to protect yourself from anything that might go wrong. Or it can motivate you to practise acceptance; live in the moment; and embrace the adventure of living. Today, focus on the possibilities, not the fears, and you’ll feel a whole lot better.

For more tips about how to effectively deal with uncertainty, see information below:

Download edition 4: Dealing with Uncertainty

Download edition 4: Dealing with Uncertainty (Universal Access Version)



THIRD EDITION: Mastering the Art of Balance (17 April 2020)

Your world as you know it has changed! You may be feeling confused and uncertain. You’re still trying to figure out what you need to do, how you need to do it, and you’re worried about the lack of time within which to do it. Maybe all these thoughts and feelings have led to you not doing anything at all. It is natural if you are feeling overwhelmed at this time, with your head feeling as though it is going to burst, trying to figure out what to do! 
Quote by Jana Kingsford: “Balance isn't something you find, it's something you create.” 

How to create your balance
 
• Take care of yourself: Use this time to consistently engage in activities that are good for you to build up your coping immune system. 
• Make to-do lists: To-do lists help to get everything that is in your head, on paper. This leads to feeling more in control. Prioritise these activities according to importance. 

• Make time to relax: Arrange your schedule, whilst at home during the lockdown, to include academics and relaxation time. You always need to make time to relax. 
 
• Managing your time: Start by working out exactly how much time you have, and then using that time effectively. Once you have done that, set goals and rewards for yourself for achieving them. 
• Scheduling: Calculate the time you have available in a week. Remember that this is an approximate value; you might have underestimated or overestimated the time it takes to do certain activities. 

Using a master weekly schedule, plot all your fixed activities into your daily routine so that you can visualise where your “study time” is. 

Koi Fresco once said, “Balance is the key to everything. What we do, think, say, eat, feel, they all require awareness and through awareness we can grow.” 

A stay home message
You could see this time during lockdown as an opportunity to practice self-discipline and managing your studies with a lot less distraction. This creates space and time for you to take care of yourself - mentally and physically, and finding your balance. There are certainly things that are out of your control. But there is still a lot that you can control. What you choose to do with this opportunity is up to you.

For more information about how to balance and centre yourself during this time, see links below:

Download edition 3 : Mastering the Art of Balance 

Download edition 3: Mastering the Art of Balance (Universal Access version)




SECOND EDITION: Anti-Procrastination: Being a Time Warrior (14 April 2020)

As a student, you may be tempted to relax at home during the lockdown, thinking that you have ample time to prepare for all your modules. Or, you might be so anxious as a result of all the changes and uncertainties that you have avoided doing any academic work. It is therefore essential to manage your workload and schedule effectively during this time.

Procrastination is postponing a behaviour or action. For example, looking at your phone, watching series or movies, while your textbook is lying open next to you.

It is important to be aware of the reward aspect of procrastination, and thus the difference between immediate and delayed gratification. Procrastination draws you to do things that feel good and are easy, providing a sense of immediate gratification. Whereas if you delay gratification, rationally considering that some things may not be easy and feel good immediately but need to be done, you will reap the rewards later. The task may be less pleasant, but more important.

Many factors can contribute to procrastination, including fear of failure, lack of confidence, as well as experiencing difficulties in controlling your anxiety.

Martin Luther King once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”

With that said, there are a number of strategies you can trial and error to beat procrastination, such as setting yourself a reward; breaking tasks down for yourself; delay gratification to build your internal locus of control; and being mindful of your present-moment experiences.

Procrastination is something that we all struggle with and most people have a task (or two) that they avoid doing. You now know the causes and elements that promote procrastination in your life, and with the understanding of how to tackle them, you are well on your way to overcoming it.

Download edition 2: Anti-Procrastination: Being a Time Warrior

Download edition 2: Anti-Procrastination: Being a Time Warrior (Universal Access version)



FIRST EDITION: On Lockdown, not knockdown (10 April 2020)

For many students, the uncertainty and the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic can be an additional stressor that triggers anxiety and adjustment difficulties. Many of you may be overwhelmed with the prospects of balancing your physical and  personal wellbeing, social life, academics and finances: all of which contribute to your mental health.

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that most people who contract COVID-19 will only experience mild symptoms. Work is being done to help people who may be more vulnerable to the coronavirus, such as senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions. As coverage increases, it's important to take the necessary precautions to keep your family and loved ones healthy.

Overall, take this time to show a commitment to improving your mental health by applying the tips outlined in the document below and on the right. Remember to be kind to yourself, accept that you cannot control everything and know that you are doing your best given the circumstances.

Download edition 1: On Lockdown, not knockdown

Download edition 1: On Lockdown, not knockdown (Universal Access 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




Seventh Edition

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Edition 7: United We Stand


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