Langley, British Columbia—It’s January, which means that it’s time to go back to work, back to the gym, and if you’re a student, back to school. According to Kurt Lundberg, a registered clinical counsellor and director of The Wellness Centre at Trinity Western University, it is also a time when people may experience the January blues.
“During this season, there’s more rain, less sunshine, and people are working to get back into a routine after being on holidays,” says Lundberg. “We see an increase in the number of individuals seeking assistance for depression or a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. With our students here, we notice that academic demands accelerate much quicker in the second term, and they often experience a higher degree of stress sooner.”
Lundberg recently became the director of TWU’s Wellness Centre, which opened its doors this September and combines health, counselling, learning resources and recreational services at TWU. He believes that integrating these services, which used to operate independent of each other, will help bring better balance to students’ health and wellness and enable them to cope better with the challenges of this season.
“We can’t separate our physical well-being from our emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual well-being,” says Lundberg. “Our goal is to encourage overall development of our students, and to do that we need to look at all of these together.
“Up until now our resources and services have been more remedial focused,” he continues. “What we’re working towards is a greater focus on education and prevention, giving students opportunities to assess where they are having difficulties so they can make use of resources such as courses and workshops that will address these issues before they become problematic.”
During this season, Lundberg and The Wellness Centre staff will make a special display on depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. TWU student leaders, called Peer Wellness Promoters, will also help disseminate educational information about various health issues to their classmates.
“We want to let students know that they’re not alone if they’re struggling, and give them an invitation to get help,” says Lundberg. “The information shared helps to heighten awareness, and students access our services as a result.”
The Wellness Centre will also profile recreational activities students can get involved in this year, and bring a nutritionist to campus, in conjunction with TWU’s human kinetics program, to do a workshop on healthy eating habits. In addition, an electronic newsletter that The Wellness Centre is developing will help highlight health and wellness topics.
“If a student is struggling academically, they could be a capable student, but are having problems because of a lifestyle issue,” says Lundberg. “Their family may have just broken up, they may be struggling with an eating disorder, or a number of other factors may be hindering their academic success. In that sense, we need to have a service that focuses on more than only academic study skills, to help address the root of the problem.”
And for students returning to school, what does Lundberg recommend to help cope with this year’s blues? “Getting proper sleep would probably be the number one thing,” he says. “As well as managing time well, exercising and eating healthy. Those are just good basic lifestyle choices.”
Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,000 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.
Last Updated: 2007-09-26