University or college can be a very daunting place for anyone, whether its moving away from home or stepping into a new environment — the move itself is a shock to the system. Many of us are the first in our families to go to university and live away from home, and are often left feeling out of place and overwhelmed.

According to a University of Cape Town study: “Students have to negotiate a number of potentially tricky transitions. When most start university they have entered young adulthood. Often they are dealing with changes in family and peer relationships. Some leave home and enter a new social context with an increased opportunity for substance misuse. There’s also an increase in academic pressure and financial concerns.”

Megan Hosking, a psychiatric intake clinician at Akeso Psychiatric Clinic Group says the first thing to do when feeling overwhelmed is to seek counsel:

“For example, speaking to older students doing your course to understand what you can expect, or talking to those at your new workplace to understand the new environment. It is most important to allow yourself time to adapt to the transition, and to not expect too much from yourself too soon,” Hosking says.

Luckily, many colleges and universities have counsellors that you could also contact immediately when tertiary life becomes too much. Also use these healthier habits next time you need to relieve some stress, courtesy of pharmaceutical company, Pharma Dynamics:

  • Exercise – physical activity increases the production of endorphins which boost your mood instantly
  • Rest your mind by turning off multimedia devices completely or at least start by limiting your time on the screen when it’s bedtime
  • Reach out to friends and family and let them know when you’re having a tough time at work
  • Making time for enjoyable activities every day
  • Get at least eight hours sleep a night

Keep these emergency numbers and “puff ‘n pass” to friends and family:

Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline

0800 70 80 90

Destiny [Magazine] Helpline for Youth & Students

0800 41 42 43

Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline

0800 12 13 14

SMS 32312

Suicide Crisis Line

0800 567 567

SADAG Mental Health Line

011 234 4837

Image credit: carls9893