Focusing on mental health

GVL/Luke Holmes
The Mary Idema Pew library is a very popular place for Grand Valley students to study before finals week.

GVL/Luke Holmes The Mary Idema Pew library is a very popular place for Grand Valley students to study before finals week.

Meghan McBrady

Back in September, when everyone was collecting free T-shirts from Campus Life Night, finals week worry seemed so far away. Now finals week is here, which means powering through presentations, sleepovers in the library and extra cups of coffee for all of those cram sessions.

Whether a student is prepared or not for final exams, it is important that students remember to take care of their mental and physical health.

While some stress is a positive thing that can lead to motivation, Grand Valley State University’s Counseling Center said it is OK for students to take a break and give their mind a rest.

“When you get stressed it is really easy to forget that ‘I to eat, I need to sleep, I need to go workout and burn off that energy’ and those self-care measures that we may usually take may be forgotten and not be made a priority like it was three weeks ago before exams,” Eric Klingensmith said.

Klingensmith, assistant director of crisis intervention at GVSU’s Counseling Center, said that if students need methods to maintain their attention – like medication – then they need to seek that out.

However, taking a drug like Adderall when they are not prescribed to the medication will not benefit them in the end. Klingensmith said taking a drug that is not prescribed is dangerous and illegal, and students could face criminal charges if they are taking, borrowing or stealing another person’s medication.

“Taking them is very unhealthy and could have dangerous side effects. If someone really, truly needs it they should go through the proper channels to get it,” he said. “What else could you be doing that can stop you from going down those unhealthy patterns? Time management, working with someone ahead time like a counselor or adviser or a faculty member to do some time and stress management so that you work and manage things along the way instead of being in that crunch period.”

Klingensmith said stress will impede how a well a student is learning and retaining information for exams. There are several different events and programs that GVSU will offer, including free massages and the West Michigan Therapy Dogs.

Students should find a safe and fun outlet that will allow them to take an overall breather, he said.

“The other thing is to do normal safe care and making sure that you are getting enough sleep,” he said. “The more tired you are, the harder it will be to study and the more stress and worries will start building up, so try to get as much sleep as you possibly can and that you are not skipping meals.

“It gets really hard, as you are running from here to here, so it’s important to you are getting those snacks throughout the day and getting food in your system so that you have the energy to be a good studier.”

Finding out how students best study will also benefit them in the end. If a student studies better in groups or by themselves, they should use the methods that best work for them.

Karli Gormley, a senior studying biomedical sciences at GVSU, said what works best for her when studying for finals is to find a quiet area in the library and slowly pace herself as she re-reads material for her classes.

She said she hopes the freshmen who are taking their first set of finals are not cramming and waiting at the last second for everything.

“I think that everybody should go to a neutral place so that they can study in a place where they won’t be distracted,” she said. “I really don’t think it is as ever as bad as you think it is as a freshman. It is pretty much like any other exam – just go and study like you have done for your previous exams, reviews materials and old tests.”