Program designed to help students cope with stress

A new program called GRIT sponsored by the Counseling Center can help prevent students from being overwhelmed with the amount of work they have.

GRIT is defined as “persevering in face of adversity/struggle and being resilient,” said Anthony Rivera, clinical director and psychologist at the Counseling Center.

The GRIT program is fairly new, with the very first GRIT week held last semester. Each GRIT week has a different theme and lasts for one week.

“This semester our theme is the acronym GRIT,” said Rivera. “Monday was get roaring in ten, Tuesday was get real in ten, Wednesday was get resilient in ten, Thursday was get recharged in ten and Friday was get rolling in ten.”

Each day of GRIT week had a different activity to target different areas of how “gritty” students are.

“There was a new concept each day.” said Patricia Helyer, student assistant and advocacy specialist at the Counseling Center. “We think it’s important for students to tap into their strength and perseverance but relaying that outside of athletics and more into literal strength.”

GRIT week was designed after the Counseling Center staff found new research that said peoples’ knowledge level is irrelevant to success.

“We read about a college in Michigan that is changing their admissions requirements about SAT’s and GPA because that doesn’t determine how smart a student is,” Helyer said. “After that, we found more research that said your level of knowledge doesn’t lead to success; it’s about how hard you work. You can achieve success through hard work and determination.”

Monday’s GRIT week activity began with roaring, which had students write down a negative thought, shred it and replace it with a positive one. Tuesday was real, with students taking a survey about taking off the ‘masks’ they show to the world daily and being challenged to be authentic. Wednesday was resilient, with a maze based on memory set up for students to complete and if they messed up, they had added difficulty with SWC pipes and weights to show their grit and ability to persevere. Thursday was recharge, having students spin a wheel and practice stress coping skills like yoga, deep breathing and meditation. Friday was rolling in honor of Falcon Fridays that had students write down how they would achieve personal goals.

The ten in this semester’s GRIT week represents how long the students had to do the activity.

“Most students don’t have an hour to exercise or deep breathe, so we designed activities that are quick, simple and effective for them to do,” Rivera said.

While GRIT Week is sponsored by the Counseling Center, they purposely left the Counseling Center’s name/logo off of their t-shirts and out of most promotion.

“We did that because we wanted students to participate in Grit Week without being scared off by the Counseling Center,” Rivera said. “Students equate counseling with mental illness, which is partly what we specialize in but it’s the stigma, so we wanted to eliminate that.”

GRIT Week has been well received by students so far.

“Students have been really open and receptive to doing the activities and having fun in the process,” Helyer said. “We ask them for permission to post their picture on Facebook and in return they can get a tshirt, popcorn and other prizes.”

Although GRIT Week features simple activities designed to test grit and strength, if a students is struggling with mental illness or other obstacles, the Counseling Center is here to help.

“We’ve had students do the activities and then privately tell us they need help, which is fine,” Rivera said. “We want to help erase stigma, and the [CC] deals with more than mental illness. We have a counselor interested in drug and alcohol addiction, one in social justice issues, one for LGBTQ+ and so on. We have people that can help with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed, everything.”

Junior Rayia Gaddy said GRIT Week helped her with strength to face the rest of the semester.

“The activities were fun and simple but they carried a deeper message and relieved some stress for me,” Gaddy said. “I enjoyed it.”

The Counseling Center sees success and new GRIT Weeks in the semesters to come.

“We got a lot of good feedback from the students, so this summer at our counselors’ retreat we’ll analyze it and re-tool anything if needed,” Helyer said. “It’s all about the students.”