Sweat the winter blues away


Mary Mitchell

The iPause program is part of University Recreation and Wellbeing. They hope to help students be proactive about stress management.

As if the week before finals wasn’t stressful enough, a potential epicenter of a storm of winter blues can make it even more daunting.

Each year, as many as 5 percent of people experience some form of winter blues, known more formally as seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder, according to Mental Health America.

For reference, that proportion means that approximately 1,035 students of 20,711 at Oakland University, as of fall 2015, experience some form of seasonal depression.

The most commonly prescribed advice for seasonal depression is exercise, and the University Recreation and Well-Being (OU Rec Well) has a variety of new amenities that can help.

OU Rec Well for the fall semester, brought more changes than just its name. From an expanded array of Group Exercise classes, to a recently renovated fitness annex, the Recreation Center is more prepared than ever for students with winter stress.

“We get a lot of students during finals week,” said Stephanie Willis, wellness and educational outreach coordinator for Rec Well. “It’s really helpful for stress management.”

Out of all the classes, Willis spoke mostly about the Body Barre classes.

“It’s a new fitness trend based on ballet,” she said. “And it’s the hardest workout of your life.”

Some classes offered are in the recently completed fitness annex. It offers extra space in case the fitness center is too crowded and boasts new equipment, Willis said.

“It’s nice,” said Tony Stankovski, a sophomore studying business. “There’s not a lot of people that go there.”

The fitness annex can cater to most, if not all, of the necessary components of a work out.

“You can get probably 60 to 70 percent of your work out done if you know what you’re doing,” Stankovski said.

In addition to the new amenities, OU Rec Well has created a program based around establishing healthy habits.

Wellness Coaching is offered to students and members of the Recreation Center free of charge for up to five visits with a coach. The express goal is “to help you make changes in your life and take control of your health and wellness,” according to the OU Rec Well website.

Other programs run by OU Rec Well  cater specifically to areas of depression and excessive amounts of stress. These range from Suicide Awareness and Prevention to Mental Health First Aid for Youth and Adults.

The Graham Health Center (GHC) also continues to offer counseling services to anyone who needs it. Students can call or go to the Counseling Center in the GHC to start seeing a counselor on a short-term basis, or get an outside referral for any problems that need more attention.

As winter approaches, the various features of OU Rec Well can provide a relief from many of the symptoms of seasonal depression. And the sunshine after the winter storm might come a little sooner.