Steps for Thriving at St. Olaf

Steps for Thriving

It’s normal to feel stressed sometimes. But good news: there’s actually a lot you can do to help keep your stress in check so you can function at your best.

1. Start with a foundation of self-care

Maintain and build on your natural resilience by prioritizing self-care with a Self-Care Plan: eat well, get good sleep, move your body, and do something you enjoy every day. Resilience helps us bounce back from adversity, challenge, and setbacks. Not sure where to start, stop by the Wellness Center and pick up a self-care planning worksheet or speak with a trained Peer Educator.

2. Establish a time management strategy

If you need help figuring out what works best for you, meet with an Academic Coach at the Center for Advising and Academic Success (CAAS) or stop by the Wellness Center for a peer one-to-one.  These are excellent resource can help you become more organized and efficient.

3. Prioritize sleep

When we’re busy, it can be tempting to skimp on sleep. But a lack of sleep can increase anxiety, irritability, inability to concentrate, and depression. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night is one of the most important things you can do to protect your mental health and improve your academic performance. Begin with reviewing your own Sleep Hygiene,  Seven Ways to Get a Healthier Night’s Sleep, and Relaxation Techniques to Fall Asleep. 

4. Refuse to play the stress game

Sometimes we wear our busyness like a badge of honor, and compete with each other about who’s more stressed. Remember that stress diminishes your performance level and ability to cope with the regular ups and downs of life.

5. Get some exercise

Exercise directly affects the brain, and is a great way to relieve stress and improve mental health. In the short-term, exercise can improve our mood by stimulating the body’s feel-good hormones. Research shows that regular exercise can be highly effective at reducing depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.  Campus Recreation offers comphrensive options for all students.

6. Connect with others

Cultivating social connections – and avoiding social isolation – is one of the best ways to build resilience and thrive at Cornell. Positive peer relationships and supportive interaction with family, faculty, and staff are known to be important factors in students’ academic performance and emotional well-being.

7. Learn to meditate

Meditation has numerous proven mental health benefits, including relaxation, stress management, and improved sense of well-being. You can learn to meditate through the Koru Mindfulness program, by watching Youtube Videos, or downloading meditation applications.

8. Get out in nature

Research shows that spending time in nature can have real, tangible benefits for your health and well-being. Get started by exploring nature right here on campus: visit St. Olaf Natural Lands.

9. Find meaning

Recent studies show that cultivating a sense of meaning in your life can contribute more to positive mental health than pursuing happiness. Finding one’s own definition of “meaning” is very personal, but two great places to start are 1) to notice what you appreciate and express gratitude; and 2) share a talent or strength. College Ministry is one resource that can help you explore and find what is most meaningful to you.

10. Learn when to ask for help

If you’re struggling, help is available. St. Olaf is a caring community with numerous people whose job – and passion – it is to help support students mental health and well-being.

  • Stop by the Wellness Center and speak with a trained Peer Educator.
  • “Let’s Talk” is a program that provides easy access to informal confidential consultations with counselors from the St. Olaf Counseling Center – Boe House.  Counselors hold walk-in hours from 1:30 to 2:30 PM, Monday thru Friday, in Boe Chapel–Lower Level, Room 11
  • To schedule a counseling appointment, please call the Counseling Center at (507) 786-3062,  stop by our office, or email us at 
  • For urgent concerns, call public safety, 507-786-3666