Change the world

Intellectually rewarding. Stimulating. Challenging. Transformative. This is what you want from your postgraduate degree, but in this new world of opportunities and learning, there are also unique pressures that can cause you anxiety and stress.

With most postgraduate students being older than those doing undergrad, their commitments are different. There are usually partners and children that need to share your time, you’re responsible for managing your own finances, there’s increased pressure to succeed and workloads tend to be more demanding. Certain levels of stress are expected, but balance all these responsibilities and you’ll limit your anxiety and enjoy your postgraduate degree.

Plan ahead and manage your time

Before diving right into your year, create a schedule that helps you effectively manage each day. As soon as you have deadlines and deliverables, include them on your wall calendar so they are easily visible. This will help you plan your time, where you can break larger projects into smaller, manageable tasks and so you don’t leave work to the last minute. Being prepared will help you cope with those unforeseen events and significantly lower your levels of stress.

Make yourself a priority

While the quality of your work is important, it’s just as essential that you take care of your physical and mental health too. Not taking breaks is counterproductive, so be sure to factor in time for fun, relaxing and healthy activities. Take control of your life and also learn to say no when an activity doesn’t fit into your goals. Make self-care a priority and enjoy your free time without feeling guilty, and you’ll improve your wellbeing and your academic performance.

Create a support network

Your peers are in the same boat as you are, making them a great resource. Use this academic support network for guidance and practical advice, especially when things get tough. Family and friends are just as important, and provide you with a valuable break from your postgrad life. Keep these relationships and friendships strong, as they give you an outlet into the real world and let you switch off for a brief moment, all of which helps ease your stress levels.

Ask for help

As an older student you might find it hard to admit that you’re not coping, but you certainly are not alone and you shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Nelson Mandela University has a wide range of resources to support you, should you need it. Our counselling unit, Emthonjeni Student Wellness, also has a wide range of brochures that can be easily downloaded with information on understanding depression, how to be more resilient, learning to relax, wellness and suicide prevention.

To help you manage your stress and anxiety, you can find practical tips from SADAG, Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group. In addition, you can get help and support by contacting the relevant numbers below:

  • The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG):
    • Trained counsellors (Mon-Sun, 8am-8pm): 011 234 4837
    • Suicide Emergency: 0800 567 567
    • 24-hour helpline: 0800 12 13 14
  • Revive Port Elizabeth (free trauma counselling): 041 373 8882
  • Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline: 0800 70 80 90
  • Suicide Crisis: 0800 45 67 89
  • Gender-based Violence Support: 0800 428 428

From honours to doctoral level, Nelson Mandela University offers quality and accredited postgraduate qualifications that enable graduates to build on their success and accelerate their career advancement.

To apply or register for a postgraduate programme, contact us via email or visit the website to learn more.

Posted on 31 January 2022 11:47:08

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