November/December 2023 Well-Being Newsletter

Greetings St. Olaf Staff and Faculty,

It was great to see a strong attendance at the “Lunch Is On Us!” event in October! We are grateful for those that were able to take time out of a busy schedule to gather, eat, build community and share your ideas. The Well-Being Committee is working on organizing all the great feedback and plans to share this with the community in the coming weeks. Did you miss out on the lunch event and want to give the Well-Being Committee some feedback? We value your input. The Well-Being Interest Survey will give you a place to share your interests and ideas. Keep an eye out for new events and information in This Week emails and check out the Staff & Faculty Well-Being website for a new list of mental health resources.

Want to join the Well-Being Committee?

We would love to add to our team! We meet 1–2 times a month to plan events and curate the newsletter content. If you are interested, contact Kristin Kivell.

It’s Back! Staff & Faculty Gratitude Window

“Gratitude is to worry what antibiotics are to an infection.” Robert J. Morgan

During November, the theme of “thankfulness” or “gratefulness” seems to rise to the top of conversations. What does science say about the grateful mindset? Research shows that practicing gratitude can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

(Gratitude Window-Nov. 2022)

What are YOU grateful for? The Well-Being Committee invites you to share what or who impacts your life in a positive way. This could be something from your personal life or something related to your work on the Hill. It may be something that seems small, like your daily coffee, or something grander, like the support of family and friends. There are no rules on what you can be grateful for — name whatever comes to mind! Feel free to share just one thing or as many as you wish. 

We encourage you to visit the south hallway between Buntrock Commons and Boe Chapel during the week of November 13–17 to view and share your note(s) of gratitude in person. There will be sticky notes and pens provided. You can also submit your note of gratitude using this Google Form before November 13. The Well-Being Committee will add each entry to the wall on your behalf. All submissions will be anonymous unless you choose to include your name.

Other Gratitude Resources:


Looking for a way to exercise your body, mind, and lungs? Why not give yoga a try? Yoga is a mind and body practice that can build strength and flexibility. It may also help manage pain and reduce stress. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. For more information on the history, philosophy and types of yoga check out this Medical News Today information. 

Ready to try some poses? The New York Times has an article “Yoga for Everyone” with 10 basic poses, instructions and modifications. As with any exercise, remember to talk to your doctor if you have any physical restrictions or underlying health conditions.

Attend yoga on campus! Several 45-minute yoga sessions were offered in October by the Well-Being Committee. The sessions were held in Skoglund and taught by Denny Bengston. If you are interested in trying yoga, free of charge, there will be other sessions offered in the future — no experience required. Watch This Week emails for future invites. 


It’s coming…the seasons change and we all know what is just around the corner. YIKES!!! Are you prepared? It’s time to dust off the shovels and equipment to move the “winter blanket” (which shall go unnamed)! Even with the best tools, it’s important to be physically prepared to protect your body and heart from harm. Here are some reminders:

  • Be heart-conscious
  • Warm up
  • Protect your back
  • Take it slow
  • Dress for the weather
  • Watch out for ice
  • Beware of shoulder strain
  • Have your phone handy
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Be careful around machinery
  • Listen to your body

For more information you can read “Tips for Safe **** Shoveling” from the Mayo Clinic. (sorry for the eliminated word – can’t even type that word…yet!)

Feeling down, blue, or just not yourself?

You’ve probably noticed our days are getting shorter. On November 1, central Minnesota will get 10 hours and 10 minutes of daylight, but our chance to see daylight will drop to just 9 hours and 3 minutes per day by November 30. Loss of daylight has been associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs during the darkest months of the year. As the weather gets colder and daylight hours get less, you may also develop a Vitamin D deficiency.

Did you know that our campus libraries loan out light therapy lamps?

Light therapy lamps, sometimes called “happy lights” or “sunshine lamps”, can work to boost your mood when daylight is scarce. Verilux Happy Lights lights are available on a first-come, first-served basis at Rolvaag Library and the Music Library, and can be borrowed for one day at a time. These small, portable lights provide full-spectrum, UV-free light and can be used at your desk as you work. Come to the front desk at either Rolvaag Library or the Music Library to check one out!

Vitamin D (also referred to as “calciferol”) is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in a  few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger Vitamin D synthesis. You can get Vitamin D in three ways: through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that our body can produce on its own, so go out there and get some sunshine everyday!

Mental Health Support During the Holidays

Holidays are a time of joy and excitement for many. However, family tensions, grief of lost loved ones, the stress of finances, and managing all of the celebrations can be overwhelming and even cause some anxiety or stress. Planning ahead and setting realistic expectations for yourself and your family can help keep your mind focused on the joy. Take a few minutes before the hectic holiday rush to check out these links, assess your holiday stress level, and set some goals for family gatherings and gift giving.