Addressing the issue of anxiety and our mental wellbeing

Matric may be over but the challenges aren’t.

An interview with Nonhlanhla Dube of Boston City Campus

  1. Now that exams are over for matrics, after a horrible year, how should they cope with the wait until results are released? What challenges do you believe they are facing?
  • Waking up and not having anything to do for the day. No more study schedules to follow, no structure to the day.
  • Maybe not having decided on what next
  • Waiting for results and the anxiety of what they will be
  • Waiting to hear if you have been accepted into your selected course and the delayed start of tertiary for 2021
  • The pressure of not performing well, and maybe disappointing yourself and others who believe in you.
  1. What advice do you have to combat the anxiety?
  • Start making your plans and goals for 2021. Decide on what industry you want to study in. Complete the Career Compass at Boston to find your industry. Then establish ALL the options that are in that industry eg IT. If you are expecting good results in maths, the systems diploma is a great option. If your results are not what you expected look at N+ which gets you into the industry.  If that is not an option, then there are other qualifications such as data capture, computer clerk and others. What we want to say is there will always be an option to get into your preferred industry!
  • Remain active – you deserve a rest but you need to be doing stuff! Read, rest, connect digitally with friends. Look for work. Try get a few weeks of vac work – it will give you a reason to get up in the morning, a chance to earn some money, and an opportunity to network. And it’s great for your mental health!
  • Be proactive for future studies – make applications, make inquiries and speak to counsellors. This will not just fall in your lap.
  • Start creating a CV if you do not have one, keep a file with certificates and a record of all work you do. Ask for reference letter as soon as the work is completed – it’s easier than going back to ask after time has passed.
  1. Let’s address the issue of anxiety and our mental wellbeing?
  • This affects everyone – we have had a nasty confusing and horrible year. Yes, we all have things we can be grateful for but 2020 threw us off our tracks.  Believe in yourself, find your niche and have confidence, be kind to others and most important, be gentle to yourself. This is important advice!!  You will feel pressure from school from teachers, parents and friends, they may have high expectations, you may be concerned about disappointing them. But there is always a next step for you. Create NOW plan B. and then create plan C. If you create your new options, you will feel calmer.
  1. How does Boston address this anxiety that students feel?
  • Boston makes sure that there is a study opportunity for everyone, as much as possible! We provide free career counselling to everyone, with no commitment. We have established a Graduate+ programme to help with extraneous matters such as CV building, interview techniques, advice for employment and various learnership and job opportunities.
  1. Can you really say that everything will be ok when you don’t know what student results will be?

Imagine the worst, and then you can face it if it happens. If the worst is that you fail  -then decide now on your plan B. Do you rewrite matric? Or do you try do a qualification for which a matric is not needed? Our advice from Boston is to redo matric.  There are options if you don’t have a matric, but we do believe that if you have the capacity, it is worth investing in your future and repeating if you did not pass. And it’s NOT a big deal!

  • There is a lot out there and the next best step is to speak to a counsellor and find out what are your plan A,  plan B and plan C options. Then when you get your results you will be calm because no matter what, there is a plan in place.



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Ways to reduce Stress and Anxiety

Ways to reduce Stress and Anxiety

Headlines such as “Experts warn of low matric pass rates for 2020” are now in the media, and adding fear into a situation that already feels tense, as well as causing anxiety to students who have had so much to cope with already. Students have had less support and less school days, yet are heading towards matric exams on which their futures depend. Students may have to adjust their end goals, and parents must be supportive of the process as well as the goals and the outcomes of all exams.

Below, we note some quick and effective study tips from an interview with Dr Linda Meyer, Operations and Sector Support at Universities South Africa.

“Covid19 does not contribute to our contextual stability, we are in a volatile and unconstructive environment which has resulted in higher stress levels. We have to cope with exam stress as well as the uncertainty of what is to come.

Stress is a feeling of emotional and physical tension – we are being judged by our peers and parents, and we then see ourselves as success or failures. We are self-critical.  Also, as human beings we often leave things to the last minute, which creates more stress.

Students who prepare and plan will feel less stressed.

Focus on positive self-talks. Be personal and be honest open and frank, understand what it is what we want to achieve. We mustn’t be too harsh on ourselves or judge ourselves to harshly. If we fail, we must readjust our goals.

How do we control our stress levels? We must decide motivates us, and set goals. We must not be too harsh on ourselves. Failure in one thing eg grade 12 doesn’t mean you yourself are a failure – it means you didn’t prepare adequately or didn’t have adequate support. That process didn’t work for you. In having positive self-talk, you need to say things like: “I have an end goal I am motivated to achieve and I am going to achieve”. Set yourself some motivation and be clear about what it is you want to achieve.

What are some unique and basic study tips?

Students: Have a routine – this is something you must do daily. Very important.

  • Use the breathing technique (to control anxiety). If you are feeling highly stressed take 6 or 7 deep breaths for 5 or 6 seconds, in and then out, to stabilise your cortisol levels.
  • Cut out distractions e.g. social media.
  • Take regular breaks, go for walks once a day to get your heart rate up.
  • Talk about your stress and anxiety with those around you
  • Getting enough sleep cannot be overemphasised. Do not cram through the night before. Do not put yourself in an utter exhaustive state. You will hit a blank during your exam.
  • Prepare adequately
  • Have a positive self-talk

Parents – be supportive, lead by example, set routine. Have your own routine and a family routine.

Keep in mind that even if the students fail, they will have other opportunities, make sure not to criticise them. Life is hard, we need to be able to fail and get up again.

Make sure students have structure, get enough sleep, eat a high protein food, and minimise screen time. Create a balanced and supportive environment. Motivate them and make them feel safe and secure.”