The last week of the semester is one where the stress of finding a parking space in the library parking deck may come close to the amount of stress you’re about to deal with in the library.
The gift of finals week.
And with it come some of the sights and challenges around us that we really all just want to survive through.
Though the class material is difficult and the amount of material is even more overwhelming at times, we sometimes sacrifice what should be the most important concern of finals week: our health.
During my first finals week, I saw other freshmen, some who I even went to high school with, embrace the culture, if you will, of finals week.
Getting coffee after soda after doughnut after Monster. Anything to stay up. Including what some call “study drugs,” such as Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
These medications are stimulants that help increase attention and decrease impulsiveness and hyperactivity in patients with ADHD, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
However, some students abuse these medications to concentrate on studying and to stay awake.
But not only is taking or distributing the medications illegal, their side effects can include nervousness, insomnia and headaches, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine. They can also become habit-forming.
It’s not every student illegally taking this drug, but the reasons to take it are the same that underlie the whole spirit of finals week. We think we have to do whatever it takes to make the grade: forget about sleep, forget about food that helps your brain function best and forget about the consequences it has on your mental health.
Our student leaders have discussed and emphasized the importance of mental health for the past months with initiatives like the SGA Task Force on Mental Health. It is an issue University members want to have conversations about and want prevent among students.
By not sleeping, taking medications not prescribed to you and neglecting your physical health, you’re opening the door to stress on your mental health, which can have long-term affects, whereas final exams last only a week.
As a student body becoming more aware of the mental health and wellness issues in general that have threatened and taken our peers, it is ultimately our choice whether or not to encourage the cycle.
College is, in part, about learning who and what is most important to us now and in the future. It’s prioritizing the test over the night out with your friends sometimes. And at others, it’s about closing the book and sleeping rather than taking medication that could seriously alter your mental and physical health.
Its foundation, I believe, lies in a student body that embraces the stress and sleep-deprivation that comes attached to “finals week.” It’s almost a rite of passage to stay up until 3 a.m. with a cup of coffee or pull an all-nighter. But that is, at its core, crossing a line.
If we as Auburn students truly do wish to strive for a sound mind, a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, we must make decisions that uphold these beliefs and uplift each other. That means making up our own mind, and sometimes our biggest barrier is our attitude. But our biggest regret might be the price of compromised health.
The decisions people made during previous finals week don’t dictate the decisions we make for ourselves this time around. That’s yours and mine to make this semester.