Whole Program

Our hope is that St. Olaf students will review our weekly video topic and subsequent resources and then reflect on ONE strategy to utilize throughout the week to live intentionally well.

Coping with Seasonal Changes

As we prepare for the winter months, and a long break from school we will face a lot of change. Changing seasons alone bring about many emotions and feelings of sadness and loneliness are commonly produced, as there is less light during the daytime and the days are often cold and dreary. This may be due to a lack of Vitamin D and Serotonin. So what do we make of these “winter blues” and how do we protect our mental health when we start feeling down and out in the middle of the cold and dark winter season?

Headline Anxiety

This year has brought many new challenges to our lives. Along with these challenges, we have received a flood of news coming out 24/7 on a plethora of topics. It may seem as though most of this news we have received is overwhelmingly conflicted with our values, desires, and is overall anxiety-provoking. So how do you, as a St. Olaf student, stay informed while maintaining your mental wellness? This video discusses the ways in which consuming news impacts our mood and mental state as well as our bodies. Then, the video discusses skills for maintaining mental wellness while staying informed.

Whole Program Additional Resources and References


Guilt is an emotion that plays a role at the personal and relationship levels. Guilt is an inherently internal emotion, guiding our behavior and self image. On the other hand, feelings of guilt form through interpersonal experiences with family and friends. Guilt is a “self-conscious” emotion, as it involves evaluating yourself.


Grief is a natural and normal response to a loss. Though commonly grief is thought of as a loss of a loved one, there are numerous other losses that people grieve, such as the loss of a normal fall semester, loss of an object, loss of a relationship, loss of normalcy etc. Additionally, though there have been proposed stages of grief, no two people grieve the same and each person may grieve uniquely at different times in their grief process. Grief is an important and active process that allows us to move forward from a loss. This video provides a brief overview of what grief is as well as possible ways to work through grief in a healthy manner.


Research shows that poor sleep quantity (how much you sleep), and sleep quality (how well you sleep) are associated with negative moods and higher levels of stress during the week and weekends, missing class, deficits in attention and concentration, physical illness, and greater use of drugs and over the counter medications to assist wakefulness and sleep. Maintaining a consistent sleeping schedule is very important. College students should ideally get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (even on weekends). This helps to ensure that the brain is able to commit information to memory while you are sleeping, and provides energy and alertness for the following day.

Whole Program Additional Resources and References

Overcommitment & Burnout

“Too much to do with too little time in the day”? Often, busy schedules and involvement in clubs, work, sports, ensembles, and academics has led to college students wondering how they will be able to get in all done and take care of themselves. Often this overcommitment and overinvolvement leads to burnout or “feeling exhausted because of study demands, having a cynical and detached attitude towards one’s schoolwork, and feeling incompetent as a student”. This video covers basic information about how to prevent burnout before it happens.


College students choose to consume alcohol for numerous different reasons. Often, college students turn to alcohol as a “social lubricant” to reduce interpersonal tension and potentiate personal attractiveness. Drinking may also be motivated by negative emotions such as anxiety or anger. Alcohol often appears more attractive to college students in situations where tension or conflict are present, as a means to make a social situation less uncomfortable. However, the reality is many fewer college students choose to consume alcohol than perceived by their peers. Many students that choose to drink (making a high-risk choice if under 21), do practice strategies to minimize their risk. Ultimately, when it comes to consuming alcohol, it is extremely important to know what you are drinking, know your limits, and ensure that you have a plan, each time you choose to socialize while consuming alcohol.


Many things you will do or encounter in life involve stress, and it is important to understand how stress manifests psychologically and physically, as well as how to think about stress. Changing your mindset about stress may be helpful, as we are better able to overcome stress by first acknowledging the stressor at hand. For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed by your stress? Find a way to connect with other people rather than escaping from them. If you feel your heart beating faster, acknowledge that it is your body’s way of giving you more energy, signaling that the situation in front of you is important. Reframing the stressful situations we encounter in a positive manner has proven to improve health and emotional well-being.

Digital Health

Technology has become a large part of life as a college student, though rarely woven into the college narrative. While technology is not all bad, as it allows us to stay connected with family and friends, and stay updated on important information, it has also caused many challenges. For example, many college students experience feelings of FoMo, loneliness, and boredom in the presence of technology. As human beings we desire connection and recognition; however, technology may not be the best place to turn to meet these needs.


Many students come to college excited to make friends and find their place in the college community. This being said, relationships, be them friendships, romantic relationships, or even relationships with professors and other faculty, are difficult to navigate at times. In fact, one of the primary stressors for college students is making new friends and transforming existing friendships. Boundaries are a valuable but challenging aspect of relationships. Establishing healthy boundaries in relationships helps to create guidelines that are comfortable for you and will uphold your self-esteem and self-respect.

Whole Program Preview

Why was the Whole Program created?
This year has been tough and transitioning into your life as a college student in the middle of everything happening will include additional stressors. Developing skills to help you manage these stressors related to academics, friends, self-confidence, sleep, or anything in between, is critical to the success of St. Olaf students.

What’s the goal of the Whole Program?
The hope of the Whole Program is to make wellness information accessible to St. Olaf students by providing educational videos and subsequent resources for students to begin, reset, or improve their own mental wellness.

How do I engage with the Whole Program?
Each Monday throughout the academic year, a video and subsequent resources will be released on this website (or you can sign up to have them emailed to you). This staggered manner of releasing educational information is purposeful and aims to encourage you to focus your attention on one new wellness skill a week.