Your time at university can be the best years of your life, but you’re bound to feel overwhelmed every now and then. So we’ve put together a few tips from the Student Wellness Service (SWS) to help you make the most of your first year at UCT.
1. Time management
At university, you’ll rarely have someone motivating you to attend lectures and tutorials or reminding you to do homework. For many first-years, this is the first time you’ll be creating your own schedule – but help is at hand! The peer counsellors at the SWS are there to assist with scheduling, study skills, mentoring and coping with exam stress.
We know that many students are often strapped for cash, and it can be daunting figuring out how to manage your finances properly. Again, the SWS and its undergraduate support group are on hand to help you figure it all out.
Exercise is a non-negotiable part of looking after yourself – mentally and physically. Whether you join a sports team, sign up to the UCT Gym or just go for a run around your neigbourhood, exercise is a must for holistic well-being.
You need to eat the right food to take care of your body, reduce stress, help you focus, maintain your energy levels and keep your memory in tip-top condition. Make the effort to eat healthily – keep the fresh fruit and veg coming, and don’t forget to drink water and keep hydrated!
A healthy adult should get around eight hours of good sleep a night to allow the body to rejuvenate and to keep stress levels in check. Improve your sleep by investing in ear plugs and a sleeping mask and avoiding energising drinks in the evening. And remember that blue light disrupts your sleep, so ditch the phone or screen at least half an hour before you turn in.
6. Drink responsibly
When it comes to drinking, many people don’t know when enough is enough. If you’re struggling with alcohol (or any other substance) use, the SWS has trained clinicians, peer counsellors and support forums to help. And they’ll give you all the information you need to live a healthy, responsible life.
7. Manage negative thoughts
This is often easier said than done, but don’t allow negative thoughts to snowball into something uncontrollable. Attend one of the SWS mental health workshops for managing anxiety and stresses. And remember that the UCT Student Careline is available 24/7 on 0800 24 25 26 (free from a Telkom line) or you can SMS 31393 for a callback. They offer counselling, advice, referral facilities and general support if you are facing any mental health challenges or emotional distress
8. Wellness toolkit
Take some time to create your very own wellness toolkit. Write a list of between five and 10 things that make you happy. Make sure that you do at least one of these activities every week. Check the SWS website guide to live well while social distancing.
9. Sexual/reproductive health
Whatever your choice is, make sure it’s safe. You can find out more about protection, prevention and contraception from the SWS.
10. Health professionals
And please remember that you don’t have to do any of this alone! There are many SWS virtual support groups and webinars available to help you on your way:
Important contact details
Online bookings: www.dsa.uct.ac.za/student-wellness/about-student-wellness
UCT app: www.icts.uct.ac.za/uctmobile
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Your first year can be tough, so here’s the rundown on the student support available to you.