Balancing Life as a Student


It is often mentioned how idyllic it is to be either a student or a young working professional in the iconic Winelands of the Western Cape.

Yes, life at Stellenbosch can indeed be pretty great! And especially with all the excitement that tends to be buzzing around in the first few months of the year, it is understandable that we do sometimes allow social engagements, work aspirations, or academic expectations to take precedence over our physical and mental well-being.

However, it IS important to not forget that when we are taking time to care for our bodies, we are also taking care of our minds, and vice versa.

Excessive and prolonged levels of stress can have various negative physiological effects, both short-term and long-term, including disturbance of sleep / insomnia, heightened blood pressure, an affected digestive system and hormonal imbalances (in particular, heightened cortisol levels). The same can be said for unhealthy lifestyle habits such as indulging too much in first term “res” parties, excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, late night galavanting and midnight crunch study sessions for finals and exams.

We have to remind ourselves that amidst all of the excitement and opportunity that the beautiful Winelands have to offer, we should also take time in such a serene setting to give the mind and the body some of that much-needed attention and TLC.

Here are some of our favorite suggestions, aside from maintaining a good and regular exercise routine:
  1. Yes, as mentioned above, regular exercise is so important! Exercise has both short-term (immediate) and long-term (latent) positive effects on mood, alertness, productivity, motivation and concentration.
  2. Aside from a regular exercise schedule, we also recommend getting up early in the morning, rather than sleeping in, and ideally going for a walk, meditating, or just getting some form of fresh air. If you are lucky enough that your uni classes or your place of work happen to be walking-distance from your place of residence, then perhaps opt for a bike ride or walking to and from work / class, rather than having to deal with the stress of finding a suitable parking spot in Stellenbosch (hey, we all know the struggle!).
  3. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet! Although those midnight BP pies can be might seem like the obvious choice to prevent a hangover in the morning, this dietary choice probably doesn’t contain as much nutritional value as a healthy, balanced meal consumed PRIOR TO going out in the evening. Also, we advise making sure that you have enough high-nutrient foods in your home to enjoy when you wake up the next morning.
  4. Try to mitigate stress by keeping up to date with study / work assignments, and your study plan, rather than trying to cram it all in at the last minute due to bad planning and an oversaturated social schedule. And if you do find yourself feeling stressed out, there are various methods to help you deal with it… maybe try a yoga class, or a meditation session, a nature walk, or talking to someone you trust.
  5. Take time for yourself! In order to maintain a healthy balance in your life, you need to also spend time on yourself. Maintain the four corners of self-care: rest, exercise, nutrition and of course doing more things that you ENJOY! Try some new activities or hobbies that help to give you that mental, emotional and physical stress release, and boost your endorphins!

This is our best advice to keep you healthy and thriving for the whole year of 2023!

Also remember that talking to someone in times of stress or weakness can make all the difference. We are here if anyone ever needs to reach out, for any reason.

Also, please take note of the following crisis-and-help-lines:

Stellenbosch University Crisis Line – 24/7
082 557 0990

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) – 24/7
0800 20 50 26 / 011 234 4837

Lifeline – open 24/7
0861 322 322

ER24 in collaboration with Maties Centre for Student Counselling & Development (CSCD) 
010 205 3032

Mediclinic Stellenbosch ER
021 861 2094

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

BLOG BY : Natalie Jordaan