Small changes can reduce stress

Living through a global pandemic has been an immense change for all of us and we’ve been going through particularly stressful times for the last while. While there is little that we can do about many of the things worrying us, what we are able to do is control how we react to the stress in our lives.

Learning how to deal with stress will help you in your academic pursuits, your career and your personal life. In this article, we’ll look at the dangers of long-term stress and offer some practical tips to reduce stress.



What is stress

Stress is the body’s physical reaction to perceived danger. When you’re in danger, your body goes into “fight, flight or freeze” mode, pumping your body with adrenaline and other hormones to rapidly increase focus, memory and reaction time.

This is good for running away from danger or confronting a dangerous situation, but it becomes less useful when the threat is emotional or mental. Too much stress can leave us tired and lacking in enthusiasm and motivation.

We often refer to different types of stress, identifying them by their sources, such as work stress or emotional stress. Medically speaking, however, there are two main types of stress, acute and chronic.

Acute stress is when we experience a stressful situation, but it passes. A bit of stress can help us with things like meeting deadlines but it becomes problematic when the stress is repeated or continues.

Chronic stress is when we feel ongoing stress for a longer period of time. This could be due to things like pressure at work, relationship conflict, money troubles or any other ongoing cause of worry and concern. Without properly managing and reducing this stress, it can lead to physical and mental health problems.


Symptoms of stress

These are some of the common symptoms you might experience if you are suffering from chronic stress:

  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Insomnia
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling paralysed
  • Feeling emotionally drained


Ongoing stress can also lead to anxiety and depression, which each have their own symptoms.


How to reduce stress

The University of the Witwatersrand’s Counselling and Career Development Unit (CCDU) have put together some useful resources on coping with stress and how to manage stress, which we will share at the end of this article.

Here are tips for dealing with stress as provided by Wits CCDU, both for day-to-day living and for dealing with exams and assessments:

Plan ahead

While exams or assessments are stressful, they are also predictable. You will always know well ahead of time when you will be tested and you can plan ahead to manage your exam stress. By doing so, you’ll avoid that last-minute panic and the risk of having to “cram” your studies, and instead, be able to approach your writing date better rested and calm. For more detailed tips on planning your time, view this infographic Stress Busters: The academic challenge


Keep up-to-date and informed:

Before you begin, ensure you have all your notes and the correct materials required for the exam or assessment. This is easier with online learning than with traditional contact classes, as all your material is neatly provided, but still check carefully what will be in the assessment so that you know which areas to focus on.


Create a plan:

Once you’ve worked out what material you need to cover, draw up a schedule that you will be able to stick to or adjust if need be. Carefully consider the volume of work to be revised and allow yourself enough time in your plan to get through everything. Set specific and achievable goals in your plan. For example: “I will revise the work I’ve done for five minutes at the end of every study session” is a better goal than “I will do more revision”.


Connect with others

This is especially true when you are studying online. Humans are social creatures and too much isolation is not good for us, resulting in elevated stress levels. Having a supportive network of friends and family will make it easier for you when dealing with exams and other life stresses. For more on the importance of connection, you can download or view this CCDU guide: Stress Busters: Staying connected.


Avoid too much social media

This is a danger to avoid that is a little riskier with online learning. Social media does indeed allow us to keep connected with others over long distances, but it also creates a false impression on the lives people are leading. This can leave one feeling miserable that your own life does not seem to compare. It can also consume large amounts of your time and worsen procrastination if you are not careful.



During exam time, it’s particularly important to lead a balanced lifestyle to offset the effects of stress. Ensure that you eat well, get enough sleep and have regular exercise. We wrote previously on the importance of staying connected for your mental health and taking care of your physical health. You can also view this CCDU infographic: Stress Busters: Positive living.



Exercise helps to counteract the negative effects of stress hormones, and also boosts your mood. In a previous article, we gave several suggestions for how to easily work a regular home workout into your daily routine. As a Wits student, you can make use of the Wits gyms and join any one of the many sports clubs.



Take the time to fit in some relaxation when you can. There are many relaxation exercises or breathing exercises such as mediation that will help you relax and combat the effects of stress. Spending some time in nature helps greatly with relaxation, making a nature walk an ideal way to get exercise while relaxing at the same time. You can view the CCDU’s tips on this infographic: Stress Busters: Doing stress simply.


Eat a healthy diet

Eating more nutritious food helps your body cope better with the effects of stress. It can be tempting to turn to junk food when you are feeling under pressure, but try to stick to healthier choices such as fruit or nuts when snacking “on the go”. For more on a healthy diet, take a look at the healthy foods to improve the focus section of our previous health article.


Rest and take breaks

Getting enough rest helps your body to combat the effects of stress. Make time to have some downtime and try to get to bed early enough to get your seven to eight hours of sleep before you have to get up again in the morning. Also remember to take regular breaks while you are studying to allow you to return feeling better refreshed and more able to absorb information.


Change how you think about the situation

This tip takes from stoic philosophy, which entails the concept that while we can’t always change a situation, we do have control over how we react to it.

Sometimes it’s helpful to change how you view the situation if you are not able to change the situation itself. For example, you can see exams (which you cannot change) as a way to really engage with your field, and reaffirm the end result (getting your degree) – rather than just a horrible time to get through.


Fidgets and other stress toys

The popularity of fidget toys or fidgets boomed in recent years, with many new toys entering the market. These include stress balls, fidget spinners that users rotate between their fingers, fidget cubes offering six different sensory controls and pop it fidget toys to replicate the soothing sensation of popping bubble wrap. These offer a short term respite from feelings of stress and can help some people, but there is far stronger evidence that a good diet and regular exercise will alleviate stress.


Wits support structures

The Wits CCDU team has compiled many useful guides for students on stress management and exam preparation.


If you feel that you are struggling to cope with your stress and are suffering from anxiety, please make use of the various counselling services offered to you as a student.

How to deal with conflict and change

One of the only constants in life is change. As we grow older, we tend to find change more and more disruptive. However, to coin another cliche, life is a journey and to make the most of it will involve many changes over the years.

COVID-19 brought massive change since early 2020 and we are still grappling with those changes, with many now working remotely. In this article, we will talk about the challenge of change at work and how to adjust to a new job. For younger students who have not yet begun to work, this advice might only become relevant in later years. But for older students who may in fact already be working while doing their studies part-time, this will likely prove to be very valuable.

We’ll also offer some advice on how to deal with change and conflict in the workplace, look at the different ways of reacting to conflict and offer practical tips on how to handle conflict.


Dealing with change at work

The work environment is a dynamic thing that is forever changing. To stay relevant and keep up with the competition, companies need to implement change from time to time.

For you, as an employee, this could mean changes to the role you fulfil at the company, the people you work with or the technology that you use every day. Being able to comfortably deal with and adapt to changes will make you more of an asset to the business, as well as your own life easier.

Here are 11 tips for dealing with change at work:

  1. Be honest about your concerns
  2. Practice positive thinking
  3. Communicate with your superior frequently
  4. Re-evaluate your job and your place within the company
  5. Ask questions frequently
  6. Take a skills course
  7. Confide in family and friends for support
  8. Arrive to work earlier than you normally do to give more time to settle into the changes
  9. Help your coworkers adapt to changes
  10. Take a personal day when needed
  11. Remember that all change becomes routine with time


Working remotely

One massive work change that many have had to adjust to is remote working. Even though lockdown restrictions have eased, there are now far more remote workers than ever before.

Being a remote worker can be isolating. While it is certainly a perk to be able to work in your slippers and skip the occasional shower and shave, people who work remotely face their own challenges. Among the common problems plaguing remote workers is a lack of social interaction in the workplace, easy distractions and difficulty separating work from your personal life.

It is important to maintain a social support network, eat properly and get enough exercise to look after your mental and physical health. Creating a schedule that you stick to will also help keep you focused while you work. A work plan will also help you to properly relax when you aren’t working.


Conflict in the workplace:

Conflict occurs whenever there is a struggle between at least two parties who have seemingly incompatible goals, with one party clocking the aspirations of the other. These differences of opinion, values or norms can arise between two individuals, within a team of individuals or within an organisation.

Conflict is unavoidable, but rather than trying to avoid it, it can be helpful to view it in a more positive way. On the plus side, conflict can provide healthy chances for learning and growth. On the downside, conflict is one of the worst causes of stress in the workplace


Positive aspects of conflict:

  • It allows people to voice their concerns/feelings.
  • It can bring about good change.
  • It is a survival strategy.
  • Conflict can strengthen relationships (learn about others and yourself).
  • There is a sense of achievement when conflict is resolved.


Negative aspects of conflict:

  • There is a personal attack, blaming or judging.
  • It leaves scars (hurts the other emotionally or mentally).
  • It can become the only way to communicate one’s needs.


How to handle conflict:

Dealing with conflict at work does not have to be ugly. Approaching the conflict in a reasoned and calm manner will make things easier. Here are five steps to help you navigate yourself towards a win-win solution:

  • Define the conflict situation together and listen to the other person’s point of view.
  • Exchange reasons for your positions and communicate clearly.
  • Understand the other person’s perspective.
  • Find options for mutual gain and areas of agreement.
  • Reaching an agreement that is fair to all, ideally, create a ‘win-win’ situation


Ways of reacting to conflict:

We all react differently to conflict situations. Our reactions are influenced by several factors, such as the personalities involved, the situation and the stress level the parties are under. Better understanding these different reactions will help you to better deal with conflict situations. Understanding this can also help to distance oneself emotionally and not take things personally. Here are some different approaches to conflict management in the workplace.


Smoothing is when you give up you own personal goals in order to keep the relationship at the highest possible level. This is appropriate when the goal is not as important as the relationship.


The aim of negotiation is for both parties to reach the best outcome. It allows for the relationship to remain on a good level. Negotiation is a good approach when the goal and the relationship are both of importance. By reaching agreement, both parties can be satisfied and tension is resolved..


Compromise is a bit of a mix of the two above approaches. It is appropriate when both the goal and the relationship are moderately important. By compromising on part of the goal, you are still able to achieve some of it while also maintaining a good relationship.


This is when you give up on both the goal and the relationship, choosing to instead avoid both the person and the issue. This isn’t always the best approach in business, but there are cases where it is appropriate, such as dealing with a hostile stranger. It can also be a good temporary approach to allow you time to think about the situation. If you are feeling angry or upset, then withdrawing can allow you the time you need to regain control of your feelings before reengaging constructively.


Forcing is when someone tries to achieve their goals at all costs. This applies when the goal is far more important than the relationship. This can also occur when the two parties are at different levels of authority, such as a senior manager forcing a junior employee to do a task they do not want to. The forcing approach must be handled with care as it is likely to hurt the relationship.


Wits resources and further reading:

Wits CCDU has compiled some useful guides if you would like to read further about conflict management.

Wits CCDU has also put together a series of articles on the topic of building your resilience so that you are better able to cope with conflict and change in your life. These articles contain useful advice that goes well beyond the workplace, but can be applied to many aspects of your work life.


PDMPM Monitoring and Evaluation

Land the job you deserve

When studying it can be difficult to think much beyond the tasks at hand like the next assignment or test. Looking a little further ahead, your end goal is obviously to complete your course and graduate, but what about after that? Gaining a qualification is the start, the next step is landing yourself a decent job.

When applying for a new job, you need to present yourself as well as possible to stand out from the crowd, especially with South Africa’s high unemployment rate. A well compiled and intelligent CV, along with a good covering letter, is the best way to do this.

In this article, we will cover all the basics you need on how to format your CV, what to put in the CV and how to write a cover letter for your CV as well as share some very useful resources and services that are available to you as a Wits student (and some useful information even if you aren’t enrolled).


Preparing your job application

Before you get stuck in preparing your cover letter and CV, there are some important things to think about and consider. The most important is that you read the job requirements and the application details very carefully. The information we will give you below is quite general, but a particular recruiter may ask for something different to what we have recommended. For example, we would advise that you fit your CV onto 2 pages, but the recruiter may ask for something different.

Make sure you check your spelling and grammar very carefully as careless errors will give a poor impression. Use polite and formal language and avoid slang or colloquialisms.


Cover letters

Before a recruiter even looks at your CV, they will read your cover letter first. The purpose of the cover letter is to explain why you should be chosen for that specific job. While a CV can be reused again for multiple job applications (if the role and requirements are the same), the cover letter really should be unique for each application.

In your cover letter, you want to show that you have done your research about the prospective employer. Try to pick out any aspects about both the company and yourself that make you a good candidate for the position. You want to put your best features first and fit them into just two or three paragraphs.

Wits CCDU has prepared a detailed presentation PDF on creating your cover letter and CV that you can view here. (this document goes into more detail and also includes details for a motivation letter, which is not covered in this article.)

Things to remember for a cover letter:

  • Do not sound desperate or plead for the job.
  • Be polite.
  • Be concise – the letter should not be more than a page.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Explain why you are suitable for the position and/or organisation.
  • Do not speak badly of past employers or colleagues


CV format

A quick online search will bring up heaps of templates and fancy tools for creating CVs, but do not get carried away. Many of these do not comply with the standard South African CV format. Simplicity is important. The websites offering these templates also need to stand out from their competition and each year they offer new formats with new bells and whistles. These can look flashy and impressive, but you could end up doing yourself a disservice.

For most jobs that require a university qualification, a plain text-based simple CV format, laid out neatly in black and white is entirely sufficient. Things like skills graphs, fancy graphics and a photograph will likely only detract from the core information you want to present.

Read the job application instructions carefully and follow them precisely. The job advert might specify a particular format that they want to receive your CV. If they specify a Word document, don’t send them a PDF, for example.

Knowing more about your prospective employer will also help you nuance your CV and cover letter to suit them. An established accounting firm will likely have very different criteria and expectations to a startup social media marketing company, for example.


What to put in a CV

What you put in your CV largely depends on the experience and qualifications that you have. The challenges are different depending on where you are in your career. If you are a fresh graduate entering the job market, then you likely have little in the way of relevant job experience.

Different industries will have different focuses and your own experience will also determine what goes into your CV, but there are some basics that should be included in any CV.

  • Name, professional title and contact details should all go at the top of the CV
  • Personal profile
  • Experience and employment history
  • Education and qualifications


  • References (if you do not include references in the CV, then it is recommended to include a mention that references are available on request)
  • Additional skills / Hobbies and interests (strictly keep relevant, eg hiking, camping and birdwatching could be relevant to a conservation company)
  • Awards and achievements

Wits CCDU put together a CV & cover letter presentation that gives you much more detail into what you will need.


Advice for fresh graduates

If you are or will be, a fresh graduate then you’ll likely want to put your education and qualifications ahead of your work experience. As you won’t have much or any work experience, you can put more focus on the course you have completed and go into more detail on your results and can include your school leaving results and achievements.

For young job-market entrants, the trick is to take what work experience you do have and highlight features from it that could relate to your job. Even completely unrelated work experience can be presented in a way that improves your chances.

What you lack in relevant work experience, you can make up for by showcasing your “soft skills”. Having waited tables for example might not be relevant to the position you are applying for, but it involves elements that could be positives for the role, such as customer engagement, conflict management or sales experience.


Advice for experienced applicants

Once you’ve got more work experience, your CV should put that ahead of your education and qualifications. As you add more work experience or accumulate additional postgraduate qualifications, you can go into less detail on earlier education. School results and achievements can be left off too. Applying for any senior position, it is unlikely that

For older, more experienced job applicants the challenge shifts to one of presenting the most relevant recent experience. If you work in a fast-changing industry, you want to show that you have kept up with recent trends and advances. This can be shown by both relevant on the job experience or by showing additional learning or skills development.


Don’t forget the soft skills

Soft skills are skills or personal attributes that generally aren’t taught at university but that can help you within your job. These are things like communication, reliability, time management, problem-solving, teamwork, work ethic and conflict resolution.

If you join a company, you will likely spend a lot of time with your new colleagues. They want to know that you are capable of doing the job required, but beyond that, they will likely pick someone that is also a pleasure to work with. Take the opportunity to show off your soft skills in your cover letter and when describing your work experience.


Examples of CVs:

The Wits Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) has good CV examples for first job applications and a template you can make use of:

  • Sample CV (Word) – A Word template providing a guide to the essential elements of a CV.
  • Sample CV (PDF) – A PDF version of the above Word document

Keep in mind that the above sample CV is specifically for a fresh graduate and new entrant into the job market who has no experience in the field for which they are applying. For someone with more relevant experience, the work experience section will usually come before the education section.


Finding a job

Wits CCDU has many resources, including a comprehensive list of South Africa’s top job search websites.

Take care of yourself

If you want to perform at your very best with your online studies, then it is essential to take care of your body and your physical health. In a previous article, we spoke of the importance of staying connected in looking after your mental health. There is a strong link between a healthy mind and a healthy body. As the saying goes, “healthy body, healthy mind” and a healthy diet and regular exercise are two top ways to take care of yourself and manage student stress.

It may seem difficult to keep active while studying online, but with just a bit of effort you can reap the benefits of a regular home workout and a healthy diet. Putting a bit of time and effort aside will help you to concentrate and focus, making the time well spent.

As a Wits student, you can make use of the Wits gyms and joins any one of the many sports clubs.


Healthy food for focus

Maintaining a healthy diet when studying online is easier than when attending traditional classes on campus. You can cook for yourself and keep your fridge and kitchen stocked with healthy food. Eating from home makes it both cheaper and easier to make some changes to ensure you are eating better.

Here are some diet tips for mental health from the Wits Counselling and Career Development Unit (CCDU):

  • Replace refined carbs (such as white bread) with healthier options (such as brown bread)
  • Swop junk food for healthier items (e.g. buy a banana or a yoghurt instead of a chocolate bar)
  • Include more fresh options such as fruit and vegetables
  • Avoid skipping meals

If you are close to campus, you can also visit Campus Health and Wellness Centre to discuss nutrition with a nurse.


Exercise boosts brain function

Getting regular exercise has many benefits and is a crucial part of taking good care of yourself. Exercise and the chemicals it releases can improve your concentration and memory and promote the growth of new brain cells. Getting your heart rate up for 20 minutes a day, or even just five to 10 minutes, will boost information processing and memory functions.

Regular exercise also helps you to sleep better, allowing you to wake up refreshed in the morning. Another benefit of exercise is improved resilience. This means that you will be better able to deal with stressful situations in your life.


Home exercise workouts

You can get all the exercise you need within your own home. There are many different routines that you can do at home to get your blood flowing and your muscles working. While we may have laughed about it just two years ago, there are now many different online fitness classes that you can join, which can help with motivation.

Here are some aerobic exercise routines that you can try out at home to get your blood pumping and body working. We’ve also included some lower impact exercises that will help you take better care of yourself, both while studying online and for life in general.



You don’t need complicated gym equipment to get a good workout and get in shape. Callisthenics is the name for exercise that relies on your body weight. Push-ups, sit-ups, crunches exercises and pull-ups are all forms of callisthenics.

Follow these links for introductory callisthenics courses and lessons:



Pilates is a form of exercise that has grown in popularity immensely in recent years and can be done at home. Although some routines require more complicated, specialised equipment, you can still do a full session at home with a mat. Pilates will increase your flexibility and muscle tone, but it is recommended that you still also do some form of aerobic exercise as it is low impact and does not increase your heart rate.

Follow these links for introductory Pilates courses and lessons:



Yoga has many proven benefits to those that practice it on a regular basis. It is fantastic for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression and practitioners claim that it improves their overall quality of life. Yoga improves posture, strength and flexibility and can also help alleviate chronic pain and migraines. As with Pilates, yoga is best mixed with some other form of regular higher intensity exercise to get your heart rate up.

Follow these links for introductory yoga courses and lessons:


Jumping rope

Here is a simple and quick way to work up a sweat without having to go outside. Although very simple, jumping rope is an effective way to get good aerobic exercise in a short time. Although many of us think of it as a childhood playground activity, there’s a good reason why boxers do it to get their fitness levels up and to keep them on their toes.

Follow these links for introductory courses and lessons on jumping rope:


Japanese towel exercise

Here’s one way of getting a good home workout that you may not have heard about. All this requires is a towel and enough space to lie down. This method was created by Toshiki Fukutsudzi, a Japanese doctor and specialist in reflexology and massage. The exercise aims to strengthen the core muscles, overcome bad posture, reduce back pain and shrink the waist.

Follow these links for introductory courses and lessons to do the Japanese towel exercise:


Wits gym

The two indoor gyms at Wits were closed due to Covid-19 at the time of writing, but with restrictions easing up they are likely to open in the coming months. Wits’ two outdoor interactive gyms are unaffected by these restrictions and have remained open to staff and students to enjoy for free. The gyms are located on East Campus Matrix courts and West Campus Gavin Raily lawns.

For more details on the facilities, please visit the Wits Fitness and Wellness Centre page.

You can follow Wits Sport on social media to get the latest updates:


Wits sports societies:

For sports enthusiasts, Wits has 28 different sports societies to choose from. While some teams compete at a very high level, such as the men’s soccer team which won the national premier league in 2017, beginners are also welcomed.

Take a look at the Wits sports clubs page for more information and contact details.

Staying connected

With October 10 being World Mental Health Day, it is a good reminder to think about mental health. Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common forms of mental illness, with depression affecting about 1 in 15 adults in any given year while one in six people will experience depression at some time in their life.

Last month was also Suicide Prevention Awareness month, which is quite closely linked to issues of mental health. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reported recently that they now handle 2,200 calls a day on their national suicide hotline, up hugely from 600 before Covid struck.

This is not particularly surprising. Covid brought unprecedented changes to our lives, many of which have only made conditions worse for those at risk of depression or anxiety. Job losses, deaths of loved ones, enforced isolation and uncertainty have increased hugely and together create something of a perfect storm for anxiety and depression.

The importance of staying connected

Social isolation is a very big risk factor for depression. Fortunately, restrictions have eased up, but the risk of isolation remains. Far more people now work from home and social interaction has been limited. Simple things like a hug from a friend or a smile from a passing stranger in the street are far less likely in our current times of social distancing and wearing masks in public.

Human beings are social creatures after all. Introverts feel it less strongly, but we all need social interaction and we crave physical contact. For example, think about people who are in prison. Even when surrounded by murderers, rapists and other dangerous criminals, the worst punishment that can be given to a prisoner is to put them into solitary confinement.

Studying online is also far less social than traditional contact classes, but thanks to technology you can still stay connected with people over long distances. It is also important to realise that you are not alone. Should you find yourself struggling, there are support services in place for Wits students as well as other services for the general public.

Anxiety and depression are complicated things and symptoms and experiences range from mild to very severe. This article is in no way a substitute for advice and counselling from a trained mental health professional, but we can help point you in the right direction.

What is anxiety and depression?

Before we go further it is useful to define what we are talking about, as the words depression and anxiety get used in many different contexts. Depression refers to a single illness and it is classified as a mood disorder. Anxiety refers to an entire class or group of conditions. Included under the umbrella of anxiety disorders are generalised anxiety, social anxiety specific phobias and some others.

Depression is characterised by feelings of despondency and overwhelming sadness. It is an actual clinical condition and not something that someone can just snap out of. It affects women more than men and usually first occurs between the mid-teens and the mid-20s.

Anxiety is an overwhelming worry or stress related to the feeling that something bad is going to happen. Some common anxiety disorders are generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder (and anxiety attacks), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs of depression

Depression is caused by a mix of social, psychological and biological factors. Certain people are genetically more prone to depression and it is more likely to occur to people who’ve gone through an adverse life event, such as the death of a loved one or losing a job.

These are some of the common symptoms of depression:

  • low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry
  • loss of energy to do certain things
  • losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy
  • reduced concentration,
  • becoming tired more easily
  • disturbed sleep and loss of appetite
  • loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
  • feeling guilty or worthless.

Signs of anxiety

Anxiety can manifest in various different specific disorders, with their own subtle differences. These are some of the broader warning signs and symptoms that you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

  • fatigue
  • restlessness
  • sweating
  • inability to concentrate
  • rumination or obsessive thought patterns
  • nausea
  • insomnia
  • panic attacks
  • irritability
  • changes in appetite

Dealing with anxiety and depression

For severe cases of anxiety or depression, you should definitely consult a health professional. There are, however some changes you can make to your lifestyle to help you cope with milder cases or to reduce your risk of experiencing either in the first place.

  • Improve your diet
  • Get enough regular exercise
  • Relaxation
  • Meditation
  • Improve your sleep habits to get enough sleep each night
  • Spend time with other people, especially if they can offer emotional support
  • Interact with pets and animals
  • Reduce the use of alcohol and tobacco
  • For anxiety, reducing or removing caffeine can be beneficial.
  • For depression, spending time with enjoyable leisure activities can help.

Wits counselling services

The Wits Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) provides an incredible amount of support for students. The unit offers career guidance, personal counselling and a host of other services related to student life and overcoming common difficulties. The unit also offers good advice for dealing with anxiety as well as useful information on various health and well-being subjects.

  • Student counselling
  • Steps to get counselling
  • Mental & emotional health resources
  • Student crisis app
  • 24 hour Lifeline: 011 728 1347 or 0861 322 322
  • Crisis Line: 0800 111 331


National support services

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) offers a range of services, with several hotlines for the general public as well as for students.

  • Speak to a trained counsellor on 011 234 4837 or 0800 20 50 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week)
  • Call the SADAG Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393

Links for various support services and groups can be found at:

You can use this site to find therapists operating in your area:

Why study public management

You may not realise it, but chances are good that public managers and public management affect your day-to-day life. So, what is public management?

Public management is used by both the government and the nonprofit sector. It uses private-sector business and management approaches to manage the provision of services to the public. The goal of good public management is to optimise efficiency and effectiveness and improve customer service. Public management and administration are important for a government to roll out services to the public. It also involves the planning and setting up of policies underlying these public services.

To put it more simply, public management is behind the service that collects your refuse each week, ensures there is water in your taps and that the streets are maintained and kept safe, along with a host of other example of public sector services.

Of course, we mostly only notice when public management fails. Unfortunately, that happens often, and here in South Africa, there are so many service delivery protests by communities that they seldom make news. This is often where nonprofit organisations step in to try to fill the gaps that the government is not able to. South Africa has many NGOs doing important work and many of the country’s public managers and administrators work in this sector.

Public management – governance and policy

In South Africa, the Department of Public Service and Administration is responsible for public management and governance. It is responsible for setting up policies on service delivery as well as ensuring those policies are properly carried out and services are delivered efficiently to the public.

The department is currently focusing on the following areas of public service, which it says will serve as the “main strategic indicators that will point to whether the public service is effective, efficient and development-oriented”.

  • services rendered with speed
  • services easily accessible to citizens
  • services provided at lower cost
  • appropriately skilled public servants to render services.
  • competitive conditions of service for public servants and the achievement of labour peace
  • no corruption
  • a positive impact on the lives of people and the economy.


Why is public service important

It may sound like a bold statement, but much of what we see as civilisation relies upon public service. Public services, also called civil services, are all the services provided to the public by the government. These are all the services that make a city-run, from building and maintaining infrastructure like roads, power, water and sewerage systems through to police and fire departments as well as libraries and clinics.

Every few years municipal workers go on strike for higher wages. When this happens we get a brief glimpse of what our society would look like without public service: a very messy and chaotic place. Fortunately, these public service strikes are usually quite short-lived, but they do give a dramatic reminder of the importance of public service.

Without public service, our road networks would fall apart, taps would run dry and power would run out. These are things often take for granted by those living in cities, but this is not the case for many rural areas. In its most recent survey on public services, Statistics South Africa found that household access to drinking water was at 89%, followed by access to mains electricity at 84.7%, improved sanitation at 83% and access to refuse removal services at home was only 66.4%.

South Africa’s public service still has much work to be done, but this shows the need for well-skilled public managers and administrators. If you feel that you would like to take on these challenges to improve public service to communities, then a career in public administration or management could be right for you.


Office for Public Management

Here in South Africa, public management is handled by the national Department of Public Service and Administration. The department sets up government policies for the public service and ensures service-delivery mechanisms, governance initiatives and other aspects of government are responsive to the needs of citizens. The department is behind all public management and policy, manages all public sector businesses and monitors progress through regular public management review.

In the section above we detailed the department’s areas of focus, but here is the full list of its responsibilities, as set out by the Public Service Act of 1994.

  • the functions of the public service
  • organisational structures and the establishment of departments and other organisational and governance arrangements in the public service
  • labour relations, conditions of service and other employment practices for employees
  • the health and wellness of employees
  • information management
  • electronic government in the public service
  • integrity, ethics, conduct and anti-corruption
  • transformation, reform, innovation and any other intervention to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the public service and its service delivery to the public


Here are some commonly asked questions and their answers about public management and administration:

Why should I study public management?

You should study public management if you are interested in public administration and want to help in providing the public with access to services. A public management degree or diploma will qualify you to work in this field. A postgraduate public management qualification is required for more senior positions within the government. These positions are sought after as they come with better job security than the private sector along with several other benefits such as retirement and housing schemes.


What are the requirements for public management?

This depends on whether you mean the requirements to work in public management or the requirements to study public management.

To study the Wits online Post Graduate Diploma in Public Management course, applicants require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and preferably two years of relevant work experience in the public, parastatal or nonprofit sectors. Students with relevant private sector experience will also be considered.

If you are looking at the requirements to work in public management, then a bachelors degree is recommended. There are lower clerical and support jobs available to those without a degree, but opportunities are limited without a degree. Senior and managerial government jobs mostly require a postgraduate qualification.

How many years does it take to study public management?

The Wits online Post Graduate Diploma in Public Management is an 18-month course that can be studied in your own time while continuing to work. Although the course is only 18 months, it does require applicants to already have a bachelor’s degree, which adds a minimum of three more years.

What can I become if I study public administration?

Qualified public administrators can work in many different roles in government, the nonprofit sector and private business. Studying public administration qualifies you for the following jobs: manager, administrator, human resource manager, public policy analyst, political analyst, municipal manager, public administration consultant, city manager, development worker and even a city mayor.


What is the difference between public management and public administration?

There are surprisingly few clear-cut answers as to what is the definition of public administration or what is the definition of public service. As a growing and developing academic field, each generation of academics has sought to apply its own definitions and nuances. Put simply, public management has a focus on efficiency and effectiveness through the application of private sector business and management techniques. Public administration instead focuses on social and cultural issues that are rarely of concern to private business.

Who should study public administration?

Public administration should be studied by anyone who would like to work in a more senior or managerial role within the public service. It is not however limited to the government and the nonprofit sector, as administrative and managerial skills are also of great value in business. The Wits online Post Graduate Diploma in Public Management is aimed at those who’re already working in the field and would like to increase their career advancement opportunities.

What is public management theory?

Public administration theory is the academic field relating to public administration and management. As an academic discipline, public administration theory is split into three different branches, with each reflecting a different approach. They are classical public administration theory, new public management theory and postmodern administration theory.

What does a public manager do?

Public managers are responsible for all of the public services provided to society. There are a very wide range of public services and any individual public manager would likely only work in one aspect. Water and sanitation, education, healthcare, security and management of public land are just some of the public services that are managed and coordinated by public managers.

How much do public managers earn in South Africa?

Government public managers earn good salaries. In a 2019 article, Business Insider reported that the starting salary level for a middle level manager in provincial government was R779,435, rising to R947,802. Senior-level manager salaries range from R1,076,222 to R1,984,885.

As well as paying well, there are many of these positions across the country. The article noted that the government spent almost R30 billion a year to pay a total of 27,650 managers in the provincial and national public service.

What is meant by new public management?

New public management is one of the three branches of public administration. It emerged in the United Kingdom and Australia in the 1980s and brought with it a shift towards a more businesslike approach to public administration, as well as a focus on the end-user. Although it has “new” in the name, the actual newest of the three branches of public administration is postmodern public administration theory.

Studying public administration online at Wits

If you would like to take on the challenge of helping to improve service delivery to the public, or would just like to enjoy the comforts of a secure government job, then public administration would be a good career choice for you.

If you are already involved in public administration and would like to improve your opportunities to advance your career, then the Wits Post Graduate Diploma in Public Management online course would be a suitable qualification.

The course runs for 18 months and can be studied in your own time, so you can carry on working while you study. Course fees of all of Wits’ online programmes are structured so you only need to pay for one module at a time. There are also six starting dates throughout the year so you can start soon after completing your application as long as you meet all the requirements.

The difference between economics and business

So, you’re interested in money, the making of money and how it works. Economics and business are two fields that will likely appeal to you, but perhaps you aren’t sure about the difference between an economics degree and a business degree.

In weighing up an economics degree versus a business administration degree, it is best to think of what appeals to you the most. While they are certainly related, they are not quite the same. In this article, we will go into more detail on the difference between economics and business. We’ll also break down both the pros and cons of economics as well as the pros and cons of business administration to help you make a better-informed choice.

People often ask if an economics degree is a business degree. Economics and business are related in that they both fall under the greater field of commerce, but they are still separate fields. Within common usage and language, the words commerce and business are often interchanged quite freely. Going by that logic, many people may assume that this means an economics degree is therefore a business degree, especially if it was done as part of a Bachelor of Commerce degree. This is not, however, strictly correct. They are each a distinct field.

At an undergraduate level, both are options when studying for a Bachelor of Commerce degree and it is sometimes even possible to major in both at the same time. Unlike business administration though, economics can also be studied as part of a Bachelor of Arts degree and combined with other social sciences such as communications and psychology. Some South African universities also offer specialised Bachelor of Business Science degrees for business while others offer Bachelor of Economics or Bachelor of Economic Sciences degrees.

Is a business degree better than an economics degree?

In deciding what to study further, you may ask yourself, is a business degree better than an economics degree? Well, it depends on what you want to do with your degree. This article can’t tell you whether an economics degree is better than a business degree. Instead, we will look at the differences between business and economics so that you can decide which is the better degree for you.

What it mostly comes down to is which career path appeals the most to you. Are you are looking to one day run a business or if you are more interested in studying how businesses interact with each other as part of the greater economy?

You may also have asked yourself, “is economics harder than business?”. This is also a tricky question to answer and again it largely depends on the student. Some do struggle with the high level of maths required when studying economics. As a highly analytical subject, there is, unfortunately, no way of getting around this. If you are not confident in your mathematical skills, and would rather not spend your days doing algebra, calculus and differential equations, then business will probably be an easier degree for you to complete.

Conversely, if you are very comfortable with numbers, research and statistical modelling but find yourself less interested in things like dealing with people, managing teams and marketing to clients, then economics may be better suited to you than a business degree.

Either way, both degrees offer you a potential route to the very top of global business and economics. Graduates of either might one day find themselves attending the World Economic Forum’s annual event in Davos, where state leaders, top businesses and academics gather to discuss issues of global economic concern. Of those attending, the vast majority of attendants are from business (though this will also include economists in their number), with a small contingent of academics.

Economics vs business administration

Both economics and business administration share a lot of common ground, but they are quite different in their ultimate aims, applications and the career choices available.

A business degree will equip you with the skills to run a business optimally or to start up your own business with the best possible chance of success. A business degree will teach you things such as management, accounting, finance, business ethics, organisational behaviour and leadership skills. It will likely also include economics in some form or another. For example, if you were to study the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) online Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration, there is a module on international business and economics.

An economics degree is both broader and far more analytical. As a true social science, it combines societal elements such as psychology with hard science and statistical mathematics to analyse and interpret data, drawing conclusions to forecast likely outcomes.

Economics vs business economics

Although not a commonly known or recognised subject in South Africa, it is worth making mention of the specialised field of business economics. This is an area of applied economics that combines economic theory and analysis with business management. The term itself is still quite ambiguous and there’s little formal recognition of it as it’s own standalone field here in South Africa or in the UK. However, there are associations dedicated to the business economics field in the US, Canada and Australia.

If this particular combination appeals to you, you are still able to achieve the same result locally by studying a Bachelor of Commerce degree with economics and business management as your two chosen majors.

Business administration pros and cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of a career in business administration. It can be very rewarding both financially and in terms of work satisfaction, but it also requires more dedication and time commitment than some people may be comfortable with.

Pros of business administration

Cons of business administration

  • Higher-level positions can require a master’s degree
  • Higher positions can require many years of work experience
  • Long hours and ongoing responsibility
  • Tough competition for leadership positions


Economics pros and cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of a career in economics. As you can see, while there are some similarities with business administration, an economics degree will likely set you on a different career path to a business degree.

Pros of economics:

  • Above-average wages
  • Opportunities in many fields
  • Advancement opportunities available through work experience
  • Multiple potential employers
  • Potential for great impact on society

Cons of economics:

  • Lack of certainty and reliance on educated guesswork
  • The frustration of ignored warnings
  • Risk to reputation and career if forecasts are wrong

In weighing up the pros and cons of economics, there are also some fairly neutral elements to consider. Depending on your personality, these could either be a pro or a con. If you feel that using mathematics and statistics daily is a con rather than a pro, then you may be looking at the wrong field with economics. So too, if you feel that analysis and modelling are too theoretical and you prefer a more practical hands-on approach, then business administration may be a better fit.

Summing up the comparison of economics and business administration

Now that you have a better idea of the differences between economics and business and have compared an economics degree with a business degree, you should have a better feel for what is best suited to you.

If you feel you lean more towards business, then please have a look at the University of the Witwatersrand’s online Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration. After checking the course fees and ensuring you meet the admission requirements, you can apply now and start your studies within the next two months.