Three Ways to Preserve Your Mental Health.

By Tsireledzo Musecho

With the new academic year starting on the 23rd of March, it seems as though online learning will remain the norm. At first, it was ideal, but now between endless assignments and virtual tests, students are finding it hard to cope which directly affects their mental health. According to Google, ‘Mental Health’ is a condition that affects one’s emotional well being which causes stress and anxiety. Here are some ways to help preserve one’s mental health and stay focused on studies.

  1. Stay Hydrated.

Studies show that when one’s body is hydrated, the brain becomes highly efficient, making it easier to retain information and stay alert.

  • Taste of Nature.

Take a walk before starting assignments or meditate outside before doing a test. Fresh air helps our bodies to function at an optimal level. Try your best to be out in nature, whilst following COVID-19 regulations, of course.

  • Give yourself time.

Scientists believe that one of the biggest contributions to mental health is self-criticism. Sometimes we are guilty of not believing in ourselves enough or praising ourselves as we should, due to not being able to grasp something as easily as other people do, or not doing as well on a test/assignment due to other factors. Just because other people understand better, does not mean that you cannot. Allow yourself time and space to deal with things and try inspiring yourself by looking at people who were once just like yourself. One of the best examples are Walt Disney. Even Forrest Gump was thought to be stupid, yet he had the best adventures. Give yourself time and space young Forrest.

Physical abuse in homosexual relationships exists.

By Lungisa Somtombo.

Physical abuse perpetrated by men has blinded society into thinking that it can never be done by a woman in a homosexual relationship. A number of lesbian women are abused by their partners daily, these cases go unreported because victims are scared of coming out.

Sharing her story, physical abuse victim who wanted to remain anonymous said when she first started being abused, she did not have any argument with her partner, the partner just grabbed her and started beating her.

“She was swearing at me, slapping and punching me. All I could ask was what did I do. After the beating she begged me not to tell anyone” she said.

Anonymous further said the abuse got to a point where it changed her, she was becoming violent, and she got hostile and became angrier.

When asked whether she tried to open a case against her, she said she was afraid of what society would say and she did not want her partner to have a criminal record.

According to anonymous, lesbians abuse their partners for the same reasons men abuse women, to dictate, to control and jealousy.

Anonymous said homosexuals need to be more vocal about the matter and to also report these cases. The police must also treat these cases in the same manner as other cases of physical abuse. Similarly, communities should give support to homosexual people for them to be more open about these issues.

Speaking about the signs one should look out for at the beginning of a relationship, Psychologist Lisanda Ngxingo said people should check for personality, reaction, and their circle of friends.

“All these can be identified through communication hence it is important to discuss different subjects such as abuse, rape, etc. and check how a person reacts. Lastly, listen to how they speak about their friends because sometimes friends are a reflection of who a person is,” said Ngxingo.

Giving advice on those who find themselves in such situations, Ngxingo said they must leave the relationship. She added that they can get a protection order or open a case but most importantly, they should leave because people are dying at the hands of people who claim to love them.

Surviving Your First Year

By Nosisa Bodoza

University is not a child’s play. It is a new environment, and when entering it for the first time, you may feel nervous and wonder if you are even prepared for this transition and new change. All nervous and anxious feelings combined, are normal and as time goes by, you will adjust to the environment and eventually get the hang of things and maybe even have a glorious adventure.

There are so many things one can expect as a first-year student. Like independence, something some have never experienced. Unlike high school where teachers guarantee that work is completed with the purpose of accomplishing a fundamental level of instruction, lecturers provide you with a wonderful skill set to investigate your work and do it to the best of your ability. Along with independence, comes decision making, and a lot of decision making includes money, budgeting, prioritizing, and saving.

After becoming comfortable with your new situation, you will need to acclimate to new environmental factors and identify with new individuals. Your companions will differ, sometimes even completely from your friends, family, and acquaintances from home. Living in a student accommodation means you may share a room with someone you do not know, another challenge that can be overcome with understanding and patience. Sharing a living space can sometimes prove difficult.

You will always need to be on top of your game. Although you finally have freedom, never forget the main purpose of your education. Manage your time effectively. Find a balance between your academics and social life. Have a planner to keep track of your work and ensure that you have your tasks done in a convenient way and try to avoid procrastination. Remember that you are not alone, always seek for help if you are struggling

Student Leaders we need for the institutions

Student leaders are important resources for the growth of the campus atmosphere in education, community and culture.

Student leaders have played a significant role in mobilizing students to fight for their rights to access quality education and access to decent residences. They encourage institutions to focus on the fulfillment of their visions. The dilution of external politics in the campus atmosphere has extensively polluted student activism. National parties’ involvement in student policy debauch the institutions.

There are student leaders who have forsaken the collective vision of student activism and turned into political playground where factions and influences take priority. Campus comrades do not seem to be actively fighting and supporting students as they should but rather in it for their self-benefits and recognition. The disparity gets wider for marginalized students to get access to academic needs to successfully complete their studies, needs such as financial assistance registration and not limited to, accommodation.  Student leaders should by virtue assist such students as they receive hefty amount of money aimed at assisting students that may need assistance. The budget is often splurged and lavished on entertainment leaving student problems unresolved. Nevertheless, student leaders are not solely responsible for discourse and transformation, however they should play a role to ascertain that proper and quality academia is afforded to every student.

Probably the most difficult thing to pursue social change on campus is to inspire students to engage and participate in student politics. There has been a recurring notion on campus that in order to be alleviated, people should “empower themselves”. With little resources and a lack of privilege, it would be absurd and unfair to marginalized students who constantly feel like they are battling against the current unjust and disproportionate system. The opportunity for leading change is used as a stepping stone by student leaders in all higher educational institutions to strengthen their position further in political parties.

The first mistake that students make is to normalize the assumption that they can never succeed in the University premises without the student Comrades’ shield. The very same shield they are seeking is the one that leads them to worse situations. More especially first-time entering students. We want student leaders who understand that rendering their responsibility is not a favour. For our University environment to be conducive for learning, it should begin with student leaders.

 If you happen to attend an Annual general meeting (AGM) or the branch annual meeting (BGM) of student leaders, you understand that at the root of their discussion is the conversation which is also defeating the governing party. Such issues are discussed at a higher political level and are also flustered. The debate that young leaders should undertake is a transformation in higher learning on how to adjust the curriculum to allow students to create their own entities rather than contributing to employment status annually.  These are the kind of leaders who are keeping track of this nation. Politics is no longer a revolution, especially for black people, but it is a self-fulfilling process. Those with more ideas do not have power or platform to voice out their ideas, but those without have the influence and platform.

Student leadership now has become an exercise forum for a dishonest and reckless dictatorship. It is through this that young leaders make power ties and even build their very own factional battles which they sweep out of the mother-political party body. These are the ones who say management to students is the enemy of the progress of black students, but they are buddies on the round tables and so on. They claim they are there to fix students problems, but the issues were never resolved rather add to those already existing. When their relationship with the management is challenging, they threaten students of harsh consequences. Many have been leaders in the University since they married the idea of transforming the university but this reform is collapsing because the student leaders are battling for power among themselves.

We need student leaders who understands their role and responsibilities and who are committed to the values of the institutions and vision of student activism. We need leaders who will always put students first for the institutions that we want to be progressive.

By Sanele Thwala and Thando Langbooi

Guard Your Energy

“Have you ever been in a dark hole and you just couldn’t find a way to exit, yet you can acknowledge that you’re in it?”. This is how one of the students described what it feels like to be in a toxic situation. Be it with a friend or a significant other. But how do these toxic situations affect you as a person? Are you really the company that you keep?  

Throughout all social media platforms, we are seeing more people using the word ‘toxic’ to either describe a person or a situation, but what does it really mean?. Toxic, as described by the English dictionary, is something that is poisonous. After multiple interviews with several students, it was evident that at some stage in their lives they have found themselves in situations where they felt that the people they were surrounding themselves with had negative repercussions and this had an impact on their emotional and mental health.  

The energy that you surround yourself with might not dictate who you are as a person, however, it does impact you emotionally and mentally. As nothing organic can grow when it’s surrounded by poison, subconsciously you are absorbing all the negative energy around you. With all that you do in life, be careful of the people that you allow into your space and the energy they bring with them because you could very much be feeding off it.  

No choice but to buckle up

As students, we have a lot on our plates; academics, relationships, commitments our resources are stretched to the max. It can be overwhelming. But we do not have a choice. The show must go on and we learn how to rise and carry on.  

One way to deal with anxiety is to make use of goal-setting. It’s important to have a “Why” – remember why you started and where you want to end up  

Here are a few other tips of dealing with stress: 

  1. Make time for and take care of yourself. Avoiding yourself is dangerous. You need time for self-reflection so that you can harness your strengths and develop your weaknesses.  
  2. Know where to direct your energy. Not everything is worth your energy. So steer it towards things that will bring you satisfaction and help you grow. 
  3. As much as this can be a cliché, prioritize. It will help you know what to focus on. 
  4. Be easy on yourself. It’s okay to fail. It’s ok to make mistakes, but do not let those failures and mistakes define who you are. 

Whenever you feel like giving up, buckle up and keep going, because the greater the challenge, the greater the achievement and it will be so worth it.  

Photographer: Lithalanga Vena 

Thought you’d have your life together by now?

Did you ever leave high school thinking “When I’m in university, I’ll have my life together,”? And now that you’re here, your life is still all over the place, probably a little messier if you’re honest? Many of us start wondering whether we’ll ever get to that time where life feels “in place”.  

The truth is we are all trying to figure life out – no one has a formula. The older we get, the more difficult life becomes, as responsibilities begin to pile up and our energy is pulled in many directions. Should this steal our happiness though?  

Absolutely not. Stressors are inevitable in life and “perfection” is a construct you will always be chasing. The answer is not perfection – it is a balance. Balance is about peace and harmony amidst the challenges. How can you move towards this type of balance? 

  1. Put your mental health first. 
  2. Ask for help. 
  3. Talk to someone about your problems. 
  4. Spend time with yourself. 
  5. Prioritize yourself. 

Along with physical health, mental health is extremely important. As students, life can be crazy – it is crucial to stop, pause and recharge. Learn to know what your mind and body need for you to be at your healthiest.

Photographer: pexels.com 

Alcohol does not rape

It does not hurt to have fun and we owe it to ourselves to live life to the fullest, but we should always remember that our actions have consequences. It’s sad to see how our generation claims to be enjoying life and complete liberation while willingly handing over control to alcohol over and over again.  

The issue of rape has gone viral in almost all the higher education institutions and often we come across statements such as “Decreasing rape is simple get rid of alcohol”. Such statements have raised controversies 

Asive, a 3rd-year student at NMU, voices her opinion by saying, “Alcohol only gives you the courage to do something that you have been thinking of doing, but have had too little bravery to actually do.  

Asiphe Witbooi from UCT touches on why most people would believe alcohol to be the leading factor when it comes to rape. She explains, “We cannot run away from the fact that alcohol does influence a person into doing questionable things, but nothing can justify the act of rape, not even alcohol”. 

It is no secret that most people are using alcohol as a front to carry out their villainous desires and a blind eye is turned to that. The question remains, “What about the victim?”. Leticia Dhlamini from NMU states, “A woman can never ask to be raped. Under no circumstances. The fact that I drink alcohol does not deny me any right against my body. How can my way of having fun be regarded as a way of asking to be violated?” 

Photographer: Bianke Fouche 

Evolution of the youth

In light of recent events, there have been several cases trending on social media. From the brutal death of Thoriso Themane, all caught on video, to the recent saga that happened in our own city’s San Souci where a pupil got into a physical confrontation with a teacher, one cannot help but wonder whether the youth has evolved or if this is how it’s always been.  

We were able to ask our university students what their opinion on this matter is since most students are on social media and are thus aware of the incidents mentioned due to videos going viral on various platforms. We asked students, “In what way have the youth of today evolved? and this is how they responded: 

The consensus amongst the students interviewed was that young people have become more violent due to society exposing them to these violent acts from a young age, making them believe that it is okay. Another issue that was brought up is the lack of corporal discipline. As one student said, “Nowadays the youth have various rights which could be detrimental when incorporated incorrectly.” Others took an opposing stance, saying that the youth of today is no different from the days when we as students were still school-goers. In this day and age, social media is able to highlight much more than it did in the past, making it seem like a problem that is on the rise. 

Whether the youth have changed or stayed the same over the years is subjective. However, the videos that surface on social media are the reason for concern in our society and we as young people should work together to restore safety and fairness where we can.  

Photographer: Lithalelanga Vena 

Showing where it hurts

Some people are frightened by change while others embrace it as the only way forward. Keep in mind that the people you surround yourself with might be surprised by the change in your life and it might take some time for them to adjust to the new you. In his article titled “Don’t bury your feelings”, Dr Barton Goldsmith, who is an emotional fitness expert, mentions how we act differently when we bury our feelings. “Being in touch with your feelings will make you a better person as well as a parent or partner,” he says.

When we were younger we did not hesitate to answer the question: “Where does it hurt?” Although then the question usually referred to physical pain, it is a relevant question regarding emotional pain too. We answer the question with little resistance to the admission of pain. As the years go by, [ ] we begin to hide the pain, sometimes even from ourselves. But denying the pain does not make it go away.

So why do we insist on putting on a brave face? Showing pain is seen as a sign of vulnerability, but the misconception we have is that it is a sign of weakness – especially among men. In his book “Unspoken Words of a Gentleman”, Pierre Alex Jeanty speaks about how it is not a crime to cry, especially when you are a man.

He assertively states that the only crime is the disallowance of a man to express his emotions but to instead bottle them up, resulting in a ripple effect of negative consequences. Show people where it hurts, especially the ones closest to you, is a vital way to increase trust in relationships. Most importantly, it is where the healing begins.

In a world where every person has a unique walk of life, it is unfortunate that we might not all have people we can open up to in our daily lives. At Nelson Mandela University, this need is catered for by the Student Counselling Centre, where students can receive the psychological support they need for mental and emotional growth. If there is unresolved pain in your life, consider being brave enough to show someone where it hurts.

Photographer: Thando Khanda