soft focus winter graland snowy evergreens with red holly berries

Winter Wellness

How to Stay Merry during the Holidays

 By  Neal Andrews of MSU Wellness

The Holidays are a time of joy and festivities, but if you struggle with extra stress, anxiety, or depression during the holiday season or winter in general, you are not alone.  There are many factors that can snowball to take a toll on our mental health this time of year—cold, dark days; end-of-semester work stress; extra family responsibilities and conflicts; and navigating hectic schedules can easily accumulate to the point where we feel overwhelmed and less than merry.   

Luckily, there are many ways to proactively boost our mental well-being during the holiday season.  Here are five suggestions to get started.  As you examine this list, look for low hanging fruit--one or two key areas that you could easily incorporate today to make a big impact on your mood and stress levels.


  1. Any exercise is great for stress mitigation and as a mood booster, but if you can get outside for some exercise in the daylight or sunshine, that’s even better!  Even a few minutes of light exercise (no pun intended) can make a big difference in how you feel. 
  2. Speaking of daylight--how’s your Vitamin D level?  At this latitude in the winter, it’s all but impossible for our skin to produce enough Vitamin D for us to thrive, so we must take it in through nutrition or supplementation.  Our annual Wellchecks include Vitamin D tests, so if you went this past fall, check your levels, and consider supplementation if they are low.  600 IU is the recommended daily amount for adults. 
  3. Get good sleep!  Consistent, quality sleep is foundational for our mood and energy levels.  Discipline yourself to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, especially this time of year!  Also, try creating a better sleep environment in your bedroom by making sure there are no audio or visual electronic distractions, and try to refrain from screen-time at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
  4. With holiday parties come holiday treats, which are fun, but be mindful of your extra intake, and practice moderation when it comes to the goodies.  Stay consistent with your regular diet, keep yourself well hydrated, and consider limiting alcohol intake as well, especially if you’re feeling anxious or down.  Alcohol tends to “boost” the mood you’re already in, so if you’re feeling blue, lay off the booze. 
  5. Connect with others and don’t forget to do nice things for yourself!  Healthy social connections help us cope during periods of higher stress, so book that date with your best-friend and talk it out!  Also, make sure to create the time and space during a busy season for the things you enjoy doing most.  Schedule that important you-time orfamily-time, get it on the calendar, and go have some fun!


Incorporating daily healthy habits to improve your mental health is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your family during the holidays! 


Looking for more tips and help with mental health or overall wellbeing?  Here are some extra resources to dive into:


Policy Changes

Board of Regents Policy Changes for Staff and Faculty (November 2022)

 By Julie Brown - Montana University System Staff Association Chair (MUSSA)

At the November 2022 Board of Regents (BOR) meeting held at MSU-Bozeman, the BOR approved two policy changes for Staff and Faculty of the Montana University System. These policies went into effect the on Friday, November 18, 2022. The Human Resources (HR) Department sent an email on December 2, 2022, with detailed information. Below is a summary.

Tuition Waiver for Dependents Policy

This policy shortens the waiting period for dependent eligibility from five (5) years to four (4) months. Staff and Faculty can begin using this benefit for the Spring 2023 semester.

The other important enhancement of the Tuition Waiver for Dependents is the increase in the number of eligible dependents to two (2). This enhancement allows for two family members to use tuition waivers. Families may have two (2) dependents or one (1) dependent and a staff member use a tuition waiver each semester.

Remote Work Policy

The Montana University System did not have a remote work policy prior to November 2022. This new policy, for eligible employees, gives guidance to the campuses in the Montana University System. HR will be sending out additional guidelines and does not anticipate the MSU guidelines will significantly change MSU’s practices regarding staff who are currently working remotely.



Can the Griz 2022

Montana State University and Gallatin Valley communities pulled out a win in the 23rd annual Can the Griz  food drive, with supporters donating the equivalent of 613,054 pounds of food to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank  and MSU’s Bounty of the Bridgers food pantry.

Food Fight!!

This year the All Staff Council had a friendly Can the Griz challenge between all MSU Staff. Shelli Spannring was the staff member who won the whole thing!




Get To Know Your Council Members

Katherine Foster Portrait

Katherine Foster - Gallatin College Academic Advisor

I started my career at MSU in the Office of Financial Aid Services & moved to the Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success. I’ve been in my current role with Gallatin College as an academic advisor for 4 years. My roles working in higher education have centered around my passions including student success, college accessibility & affordability. I love what I do and am grateful to have the opportunity to help our younger generations pursue their academic & career aspirations. Go Cats!


I’ve lived in Montana for almost 30 years and grew up in Livingston, Montana. The majority of my family no longer lives in the Bozeman area but three of us are Bobcat alumni! I love exploring the outdoors, traveling, trying out new restaurants & spending time with family & friends. I traveled to Europe for the first time this summer and can’t wait to go back.


Elizabeth Olson Portrait

Elizabeth Olson - UIT Enterprise Systems Analyst

I am excited to already have a year of service in as an analyst for University IT. So far many great experiences and learning opportunities. My path to MSU was a long and winding road starting in Philadelphia, PA in the travel industry then to Los Angeles, CA in the film business and special event production and finally to Bozeman, MT in IT for  RightNow Technologies/Oracle. I have always felt that MSU is the vibrant heart of our community and I am proud to now be part of keeping that heart strong. I love getting involved and helping people. There is joy in implementing new tools and processes to make every user experience better. Less time fighting with clunky systems is more time doing great things!

In my free time, you can find me playing PokemonGo, doing arts & crafts and reading. I love to go camping and fishing with my husband and son. Now we include our daughter-in-law and grandbaby too. 

While it isn't at the moment, I feel my true hair color is blue. Go Cats Go!


We wish you Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year

Montana State University
All Staff Council
211 Montana Hall
P.O. Box 172440
Bozeman, MT 59717-2440

Chair:  Jonathan Dove

[email protected]