Counseling Center offers stress management help

Rachel Cross

The beginning of the school year is a time full of excitement, changes and perhaps stress. Balancing schoolwork, employment, extracurricular activities and a social life can be difficult to do, which is why it’s important for students to learn how to manage their stress early on in the year so they can have a successful semester.

Eric Klingensmith, a senior psychologist at Grand Valley State University’s Counseling Center and coordinator of Alcohol and Crises Services, emphasizes that it is important for students to make time for themselves a priority.

“Students are taking on so much they forget about the basic things to take care of themselves,” Klingensmith said. “Staying up late or going from point A to point B constantly can cause a student to feel run down.”

In addition, Klingensmith said there are a lot of negative consequences when students do not deal with their stress.

“Not being able to think clearly, poor memory, headaches, muscle aches and overall poor health can make students feel anxious or depressed,” Klingensmith said. “When this happens, it can be helpful for a student to check in with a counselor to modify these issues.”

Amanda Robinson, a certified psychiatric technician at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health services in Grand Rapids, sees many college-aged students come into the facility for help when stress gets to be too much. Robinson checks in each day with four to five patients who are dealing with depression or anxiety, or who have recently attempted suicide.

“We see a lot of younger college-aged students come into our facility, just because it’s a stressful time in their lives,” she said. “They are starting to become more independent and with that independence come many stresses, but we like to reassure this age group that they are not alone and what they are experiencing is very common.”

Robinson said if students feel like they can manage stress on their own, it’s important for them to use a coping skill that they have an interest in, whether it is journaling, art therapy, yoga or talking and venting to people.

“To better manage stress, it’s all about tapping into your interests and doing things that helps an individual better cope,” she said. “Some people like exercise, but I’m not going to tell you to shoot a basketball if you don’t like basketball.”

Lauren Nolan, GVSU senior, is the definition of busy college student. As president of the Hunger and Homelessness student organization, Beta Alpha Psi committee member, and Sigma Alpha Lambda National Honors Society, she is no stranger to stress. Nolan, however, has found proactive ways to cope.

“Working out definitely helps when things get overwhelming,” she said. “Going for a morning run helps to get my mind off things. I think talking to my roommates (and) friends really helps also because they’re in the same situation and just as stressed out. Doing stuff outside the classroom also relieves stress I have with schoolwork.”

GVSU’s Counseling Center offers a whole host of service to students who need help alleviating stress. Among them are group stress management sessions that teach breathing exercises, time management skills and relaxation techniques, that students can be reffered to by a counseler from the center.

For more information, call the counseling center directly at (616) 331-3266.

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