Student tips

27 January 2023
Student tips
Photo Lerato Maduna.

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.

2. Budgets

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.

3. Exercise

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.

4. Nutrition

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!

5. Sleep

Health practitioners recommend 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

When in doubt, speak to a health professional. If you need help with accessing SWS services, contact an SWS Mental Health Peer Educator or simply book online on the SWS website or the UCT App.

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:

  • Substance/Chillers forum
  • Undergraduate support
  • Khulumani Madoda forum (Men Let’s Talk).

Important contact details

  • Medical consultations 021 650 1020
  • Counselling 021 650 1017 (clinics and counselling service points)
  • SWS COVID-19 hotline 021 650 1271
  • SWS triage line (for queries and referrals) 021 650 5620
  • SADAG UCT Student Careline 0800 24 25 26 (free from a Telkom line) or SMS 31393 for a callback
  • Crisis Intervention Service (Psychiatric Night Nurse) 021 650 2222/3
  • 24/7 Sexual Assault emergency standby number 072 393 7824
  • Disability Service 021 650 2427
  • ER 24 ambulance 021 650 2222/3

Online bookings

UCT app


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.