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Counseling & Health Services

Wellness at BSC

Wellness is an evolving process in which we, as individuals and as a community, develop and enhance all aspects of our minds, bodies, and spirits. The mission of the Wellness committee is to promote holistic, healthy lifestyles and well being for life-long learners.

The committee has focused on five aspects of wellness.

Intellectual wellness is the possession of healthy attitudes and thought processes. A mind that is open to new ideas and viewpoints, independent thinking and clear communication are all signs of intellectual wellness. A liberal arts education is designed to promote intellectual wellness in many ways, from improving critical thinking skills to increasing awareness of diversity.

Wellness diagramSpiritual Wellness
Birmingham-Southern College is a United Methodist related college and its history is rooted in the Christian faith. The 21st Century will be one of increasing diversity throughout the world and at Birmingham-Southern College, we welcome that. United Methodism has a commitment to diversity, tolerance, and mutual respect among the religions of the world. Discovering the richness of spiritual truths and practices is part of the process of going to college. Most of our students have had contact with a spiritual tradition prior to coming to college and now is the time to develop their understandings of that tradition.

Emotional wellness involves maintaining good mental health, a positive attitude, high self-esteem, and strong self-image. It is the ability to respond resiliently to emotional states and the flow of life events. It is dealing with a variety of situations realistically and learning more about yourself and how things you do affect your feelings. It is taking responsibility for your own behavior and responding to our challenges as opportunities. It is working from the "inside-out" to be better able to handle the circumstances we face. It is about balance in our lives.

Physical wellness is normally what springs to mind when "wellness" is mentioned. Maintaining good physical condition is important for our health. The prevention of many serious health risks such as heart disease, breast cancer, and high blood pressure has been directly linked to exercise and a healthy diet.

There are a variety of opportunities to pursue social wellness in a community like Birmingham-Southern College. Classroom discussions, student activities, and residence halls offer numerous interactions of varied size and focus. Involvement in activities or organizations, attending cultural events or lectures, and engaging in spontaneous discussions with friends or colleagues are the best ways to assure that you experience new and interesting things that will broaden your talent and skill.

10 tips on Intellectual Wellness and Academic Success

  1. If your mind is stuck on a problem, ask around for other opinions. Then disregard them and form your own.
  2. If in doubt, ask the experts, but don't always trust them.
  3. Having trouble communicating clearly when writing? Try the Writing Center in the basement of Phillips Science.
  4. If you feel that your mind is totally stressed out, it is. Take a mental vacation and try thinking about something else for a little while.
  5. How do you make your body more flexible? Exercise and stretching. If you want to make your mind more flexible you need to exercise and stretch it too. Note - this may occasionally cause soreness.
  6. When your brain is full, try to digest a little before consuming more.
  7. The beauty of a liberal arts education is that you learn that it's okay to just stare out the window sometimes. Everyone will suspect that you are a deep thinker.
  8. You can't have intellectual wellness without physical, spiritual, emotional and social wellness, too. It's a package deal.
  9. You are smarter than your computer. It just has better memory.
  10. Make it a rule that you never engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

Ten Ways to Practice One's Faith at College

Students need not wait until they are graduated to begin practicing their faith. In fact, spiritual writers of all faith traditions encourage the practice of faith in the everyday activities in which one is involved. The following are meant to suggest ways in which students can practice their faith while in College.

  1. Listen: If you have had the experience of not being listened to, then you know how powerful and prophetic listening can be. College campuses are populated with people who lead very busy lives, and needless to say, not listening to others is rampant. One who listens is practicing a form of kindness that is inherent to all who are persons of faith.
  2. Pray: Praying is something one does. It is an active orientation to the world around us: our classes, friends, dates, family, jobs, and problems. Praying is an ongoing activity of all creation. Being in prayer means to join this, allowing our lives to become a prayer to God..
  3. Attend: Related to the first two, the practice of attending is a faith practice. Some Religions call this "mindfulness". Asking oneself "what is it that is claiming my attention" is one way of growing in faith. On every college campus there are hundreds of claims for your attention and ‘paying attention' to those in line with your beliefs is a faithful journey..
  4. Serve: There are many opportunities on campus to become involved with a service project. Whether it is visiting the sick, a nursing home, tutoring, or helping in a soup kitchen, we all have hours we can use in service. College students are leading the nation in service hours these days, and there is room for you..
  5. Think: It may sound strange to suggest that training one's mind to think is a form practicing one's faith, but all major religions find a unity in spirit, body and mind. The major activity in college is the development of a life of the mind, and "faith seeking understanding" is a meaningful way to practice one's faith.
  6. Learn: Are you open to learning? The practice of learning is evident in a person especially when it is contrasted with it's opposite-the person who knows it all. For example, the writers of sacred scripture in all traditions had to learn the story they were given to tell as well as the way to communicate the story to their readers. Learn your story. Learn your campus. Openness to learning is an attitude that will draw people to you.
  7. Write: We know the faithful witnesses of the world's religions because they wrote the accounts of their experiences. Letters, papers, articles for the newspaper or your local campus ministry group are all ways for you to grow in your faith. Writing is a demanding discipline that is also a gentle practice because it respects the schedule of the reader.
  8. Study: An ancient discipline, studying is more than the accumulation of information. When one studies, one's thought processes take on the order and form of that which one is studying. So when one studies holy texts, for instance, more than just information is gained. The practice of this discipline prepares us for the next stage in our faith development.
  9. Hope: Faithful people are characterized by their hope. Hoping is more than merely wishing for good things to happen. It means to be ready at every moment for the Grace of God. One tangible way of hoping is to form caring relationships. Since we live in a violent world, caring relationships are a sign of hope for the future of humankind.
  10. Love: Perhaps the most demanding of all these suggested practices of faith. Our culture confuses love with dependency, sexuality, or conquest so it is understandable that we have confusion about loving. But love is the root of all religions and the means of our community. When practicing our faith, Love is the way. And our love includes God, others, and ourselves.

What is depression?

Depression is not just "feeling blue" or "down in the dumps". It is more that being sad or feeling grief after a loss. Depression is a medical disorder (just like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease are medical disorders) that day after day affects your thoughts, feelings, physical health and behaviors.

Certain life conditions (such as extreme stress or grief) may bring on a depression or prevent a full recovery. In some people, depression occurs even when life is going well. Depression is not your "fault". It is not a weakness. It is a medical illness. Depression is treatable.

What are the symptoms?

People who have a major depressive disorder have a number of symptoms nearly every day, all day, for at least 2 weeks.

These always include at least one of the following:

  • loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • feeling sad, blue, or down in the dumps.

You may also have at least three of the following symptoms:

  • feeling slowed down/restless and unable to sit still
  • feeling worthless/guilty
  • increase or decrease in appetite or weight
  • thoughts of death or suicide
  • problems concentrating, thinking, remembering, or making decisions
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • loss of energy or feeling tired all of the time

With depression, often other physical or psychological symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • other aches and pains
  • digestive problems
  • sexual problems
  • feeling pessimistic or hopeless
  • being anxious or worried

What should I do if I have these symptoms?

Family practitioners, and clinics are often the first places that people go for help. These health care providers will:

  • find out if there is a physical cause for your depression
  • treat the depression
  • refer you to a mental health specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

If you need assistance in any of these steps, our counseling staff will be glad to help. We often make referrals for students to be evaluated and we are available to work with you during this time.

If you would like more information on depression or would like to meet with one of our counselors about any issues/concerns you may be dealing with, please contact us at 226-4717 to schedule an appointment.

We are located on the 2nd floor of Norton Campus Center in the Counseling & Health Services office.