How to Handle Midterm Stress

by Molly Scott

It’s a strug life.

It’s midterm season, and you know what that means…tons of stress. However, it’s important to keep in mind that stress is not confined to this specific time in the semester. Over the course of our four years in college, we are going to experience stress caused by coursework, extracurriculars, grades, as well as non-academic pressures. Here’s a step-by-step guide to reduce the stress and anxiety that constantly affects us here on campus.

1. Get organized
Determine what it is that exactly needs to get done and when. I would recommend using a separate piece of paper (not your everyday planner) to write out your own calendar. Make sure to plan out the day you’re going to start studying for a test or writing an essay and then write down due dates. You should include specific times of the day that you plan on working on your assignment; be sure that class, meal times, clubs, exercise, etc. don’t interfere with your study plans.

2. Get motivated!
Often I find I lack the oomph to get started on very important assignments or begin studying for a big exam.  Although it seems too obvious to actually work, setting a goal and reward system really helps me get the job done. For example, if I have a really long reading due the next day, I’ll tell myself that after reading 10 pages, I’ll go on Facebook or read a magazine for 5 minutes, then get back to reading another 10 pages. Set small goals and once you’ve reached them, you get to reward yourself. I would try to keep the times spent working towards the goal and the times spent indulging relatively short.

Some examples of good-sized goals
reading 10 pages in a row, writing one page of an essay, spending 20 minutes on an exercise (e.g., a foreign language exercise), reading over notes/preparing a study guide for 20 minutes, etc.

Some examples of good-sized rewards
(These should be shorter than your goals, because let’s face it, you have to get work done) 5 minutes of Facebook time, 5 minutes spent surfing your favorite blogs (The Nine Ways of Knowing, duh!), watching one episode of a show on Netflix/Hulu (I would recommend having worked for a relatively long period of time before this one), etc.

3. Relax!
If you do get stressed out, take a deep breath. Distract yourself: get out of your room, take a walk, go to the gym, shower, anything that lets you forget about your work for a little while. Your brain cannot study for hours on end without breaks! It’s ineffective to study a lot of information all at once without a break.

4. Take good care of yourself
For the past three week, there’s definitely been some kind of bug going around. You can avoid the stress of being sick during midterm season by eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep.

Molly is a sophomore at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Photos courtesy of Think Progress.

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10 thoughts on “How to Handle Midterm Stress

  1. One of the4 best ways to handle midterm stress is to stop thinking of all that needs to be read or studied. Try getting on your gym clothes, hit the gym then take a warm shower. Afterwards, you'd be surprised that you're ready to take on studying much better because of the exercise you've done.

  2. Correct. “With a healthy body comes a healthy mind,” so get on your sportswear and sweat it off. In my case, when my body becomes active after a good workout, my mind is on its mood to thinking. It works all the time.

  3. Kids, cramming isn't trending anymore. Go and be inspired of your pin-up personalized calendars, plot every project/report/exams that may come in the way so you know how to prioritize each of them. And avoid balancing subjects through which is major subject or not. Professors get hurt easily, you know.

  4. I could imagine how students look-like when midterm is coming, I used to be a student too. Stacks of reviewers in my file case folders are everywhere, my room is a total mess but, good thing, I still manage to handle the stress. It's always about proper management of time and studying and in everything as well.

  5. For me to handle midterm stress, I play my sport. I just get into my golf pants and spring into action. I am relieved by simply hitting the balls and watching how far they'll go.

  6. True, with a healthy body comes a healthy mind, and vice versa. Whenever I give health seminars, I also advise my audience to keep their minds healthy by reading, and just simply gathering information. Use their heads, in short. Aside from a good physical exercise, a mind exercise would help a lot in one's good health.

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