Dealing with the Doldrums

By:
Darcy Force

The holidays are so much fun. We get to see family that we haven’t seen in months. There is so much delicious food. There are parties and presents and pretty lights everywhere. And then it is January and it is just winter, without the pretty lights and the creamy fudge.  

For many people, life may seem a bit boring as we turn our focus back to jobs, responsibilities, and school. It can even seem down-right depressing. But there is something we can do about it!

Southwestern Adventist University’s new Whole-Person Wellness program was created for just this reason, to help students learn daily lifestyle choices that will impact their attitude and success. College is challenging anyway and the months after the holidays can be especially so. Under the guidance of the Whole-Person Wellness program (introduced in the June issue of the Record), the campus is currently focusing on rest and nutrition.

Proper rest is important for everyone, but especially students. More than 90 percent of American high school students are chronically sleep-deprived, according to a 2016 survey. Losing sleep can also have a long-term negative effect on a young person’s physical health, with poor sleep quality being linked to diabetes and obesity risk for teens. Each hour of lost sleep is associated with a 38 percent increased risk of feeling sad or hopeless and a 58 percent increase in suicide attempts. Teens who sleep an average of six hours per night are also three times more likely to suffer from depression.

To encourage better rest and sleeping habits, Southwestern has implemented several ideas. Professors have changed their deadlines to earlier in the day, to help students plan better and avoid procrastinating on assignments. The library closes 30 minutes earlier. The Offices of Student Services and Spiritual Life and Development committed to ending official campus events by 10:30pm.

“When I feel rested, I also feel more attentive in my classes,” says Tanya, a junior communication major at Southwestern Adventist University.  “I’ve also learned that eating a whole and healthy meal contributes to my ability to rest and pay more attention in class as well.”

Proper nutrition plays a significant part in improving the immune system, increasing cognitive abilities, decreasing stress, and promoting a positive attitude (read more at CreationHealth.com). One of the first things new Food Service Director and Chef Mandy Smith (Class of 2004) did this year was to assess the nutritional value of the menu, putting an emphasis on fresh and local produce. Accessibility is key in helping students make the right choices. While the cafeteria has been known for years for its wonderful salad bar, the salad bar is now front and center of the food service area, encouraging partakers to pile on the salad first. The Rusty Bucket snack counter is increasingly providing healthy, fresh options to supplement the daily buffet hours. All of the juices provided are corn syrup free and the menu is now close to GMO free, with the goal to be 100% free as soon as possible.

Chef Mandy is also looking for new local farms and businesses to partner with.

“I’m excited about the possibilities of sourcing our food locally,” says Mandy. “Fresh food is better for everyone and supporting our local businesses is important. 100% of our honey and pecans are locally sourced and some of our eggs are local, though I’m still looking for more sources.”

But Chef Mandy has another idea for beating back the winter doldrums. “We’re looking beyond our menu for ways to make a difference. We are looking for ways we can reach our community,” Mandy shares. “We donate all of our scraps to local farmers. As I was making a delivery recently, the farmer shook my hand and told me how grateful he is. He says he has decreased his food bill by more than a third!”

It’s harder to be discouraged when you’re thinking of other people. Tanya couldn’t agree more. “I learned it’s important to be active and involved with your friends,” Tanya explains, when asked how she deals with the letdown after the holidays. “I try to do as much for other people as I can. No matter what else is going on, it gives me the feeling that I’ve really accomplished something.”

 

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