COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new (novel) strain of a coronavirus, not previously identified in humans, which affects the respiratory system of an infected person.

Currently there is no vaccine or a specific treatment for COVID-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared COVID-19 a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020. This was followed by a complete national lockdown from 27 March 2020.

Sol Plaatje University (SPU) takes the threat of infection in our community seriously. We therefore urge our students to keep safe and take extra care of their health during this time.

This page is dedicated to providing students with resources required to navigate during this unprecedented time.

There is so much uncertainty in the world right now because the corona virus has altered many facets of our lives in the past few weeks.

Life as we know it has completely changed and this change can result in fear, stress, nervousness or anxiety.

Incorporating various relaxation techniques into your daily routine can help you cope during this time. 

Technique 1: Deep breathing 

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
  • Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
  • Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
  • If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying down. Put a small book on your stomach, and breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.

Technique 2: Progressive muscle relaxation

  • Consult with your doctor first if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.
  • Loosen clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
  • Take a few minutes to breathe in and out in slow, deep breaths.
  • When you are ready, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
  • Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
  • Relax your foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and how your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
  • Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
  • Shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
  • Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the different muscle groups.
  • It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those you are focused on at a particular time.

Technique 3: Body scan meditation

  • Lie on your back, legs uncrossed, arms relaxed at your sides, eyes open or closed. Focus on your breathing for about two minutes until you start to feel relaxed.
  • Turn your focus to the toes of your right foot. Notice any sensations you feel while continuing to focus on your breathing. Imagine each deep breath flowing to your toes. Remain focused on this area for three to five seconds (or more).
  • Move your focus to the sole of your right foot. Tune in to any sensations you feel in that part of your body and imagine each breath flowing from the sole of your foot. After one or two minutes, move your focus to your right ankle and repeat. Move to your calf, knee, thigh, hip, and then repeat the sequence for your left leg. From there, move up the torso, through the lower back and abdomen, the upper back and chest, and the shoulders. Pay close attention to any area of the body that causes you pain or discomfort.
  • After completing the body scan, relax for a while in silence and stillness, noting how your body feels. Then slowly open your eyes and stretch, if necessary.

Technique 4: Visualisation

Close your eyes and imagine your restful place. Picture it as vividly as you can- everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Visualization works best if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible.

  • Hear the birds singing
  • Smell the grass
  • Feel the cool water on your bare feet
  • Taste the fresh, clean air

Enjoy the feeling of your worries drifting away as you slowly explore your restful place.

When you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to the present.

Do not worry if you sometimes zone out or lose track of where you are during a visualization session. This is normal.

Technique 5: Mindfulness meditation

  • Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted or distracted.
  • Sit on a comfortable chair with your back straight.
  • Close your eyes and find a point of focus, such as your breathing – the sensation of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth or your belly rising and falling – or a meaningful word that you repeat throughout the meditation.

Do not worry about distracting thoughts that go through your mind or about how well you are doing. If thoughts intrude your relaxation session, do not fight them, just gently turn your attention back to your point of focus, without judgment.

Source: HelpGuide.org

Self care is about being kind to yourself and is vital to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself.

The following are some activities that you can do to maintain an overall healthy relationship with yourself as they produce positive feelings.

Practice bonding activities

Do puzzles, share domestic chores and cook with family.

Exercise

Exercising releases built-up stress by flushing away excess adrenaline and cortisol from our bodies.

Get some fresh air

Being inside for too long can cause conflict, even with people you love. Stepping outside and taking a breath of fresh air can help diffuse the tension.

Keep good habits

Do your best to keep to a routine of good habits. Meditate, start a journal or go for a walk in your yard. These habits keep us mentally healthy.

Use health coping strategies

Drugs and alcohol will only deepen feelings of loneliness and isolation, rather phone a friend if you are feeling lonely.

Find online support

Search for and listen to counselling audiobooks or watch guided meditation videos on online video-sharing platforms or apps.

Lockdown is a challenge for many as movement is restricted to only leaving the house for essentials. 

You may be experiencing higher-than-usual anxiety levels and doing some form of exercise is an easy way to boost both your mental and physical health.

Physical activity helps your body and mind in the following way:

  • Exercise releases chemicals in your brain, which are great for your mood;
  • It can also lead to better sleep and give you more energy;
  • Physical movements can help ease tightness in your shoulders and neck, which often come with stress and anxiety;
  • Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of serious health issues, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke;
  • It helps with weight management;
  • Regular physical activity is great for your immune system.

You can download the Get Fit at Home workouts by clicking here

These will keep you moving and help your body and mind feel better during this time.

To support you during this time, SPU’s Student Affairs Department provides remote health and well-being support to students who may require assistance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Psychosocial support

To receive counselling, information, referrals and resources contact Ms Afrika:

Send a Please Call Me to 076 531 0062 OR Send ‘Hi’ on WhatsApp to the same number.

Available Monday – Friday from 9am to 4pm

Health-related support

‘Ask Sister D’ by sending a Please Call Me to 079 499 0079.

Available Monday – Friday from 9am to 4pm

Below are links to various websites for further reading on the latest corona virus information, statistics and advise. 

  • The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) website is a resource of knowledge and expertise in regionally relevant communicable diseases to the South African government, SADC countries and the African continent. 
  • To read on how to address COVID-19 social stigma, click here

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