For some, midterm week is nothing out of the ordinary and just like any other week during the semester. But for those of us who haven’t been blessed with that coveted gene, midterms are a huge stressor. There’s nothing quite like the impending weight you feel on your shoulders once the clock starts for an exam. But what if there was a way to avoid all of that anxiety? Whether it be the overload of information clouding your brain or just the pressure of taking a major exam, midterm stress is different for everybody. So sit back, relax, and read some quality tips on how to reduce stress during midterm week that will not only prepare you for this semester, but for all semesters to come.
- Learn how to realize you’re stressed. Sometimes we don’t realize we’re flailing under pressure until it’s too late and suddenly our entire mental state is a mess. You can avoid this and stop stress in its tracks by learning about your habits and recognizing when you get stressed. I know when I start to crack under pressure I tend to binge on snacks. But now knowing this, I can call out my own patterns, slow down, and take a deep breath.
- Listen to soothing music. Studying in complete silence might sound like the perfect environment for some people, but for others, silence can be just as deafening as a jackhammer. Picking the right kind of music to study to can affect your overall productivity level. Try to stick with lyric-less music so you won’t catch yourself singing along and getting distracted. Easy mellow beats are your safest bet and will surely keep you de-stressed during your study session. I highly recommend classical music to those who really want to get their study on.
- Create a study plan. Your brain needs more than a day to process information, so it’s probably best to not save all your studying for the night before the exam. Instead, take a long look at your schedule and see what periods of time are the best for you to get undisturbed study time. Once you have that figured out, map out what areas of a subject or what courses (if you have more than one exam to study for) you should study on that day. Taking the time to cultivate a detailed study plan will leave you better prepared for your exams and stress-free!
- Organize your space. I am definitely one of those people who can’t focus on their work if my environment is a mess, especially if my desk is cluttered. Reaching the ultimate level of calm during midterm week starts with a good foundation of organization. But how can you reach calm when you’re buried under a pile of junk? Making your bed and rustling up those pesky loose papers will surely lay the perfect stepping stones to a stress-free midterm week.
- Eat right. In order for your body and brain to absorb all the information you’re feeding it and to withstand the pressure of exam week, you should treat it with respect. Stick to healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Your body won’t work as efficiently if all it’s running on is junk food. A healthy body is a happy body, and that’s crucial to keeping away those waves of stress.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Not only should you aim for a healthy body, but also a healthy mind. It’s impossible to expect yourself to effectively study when you’re running on five hours of sleep. Working during a state of no sleep would make anyone stressed or feel on edge. Save those nights out for another weekend and instead tuck yourself into bed and catch some well-deserved Zs. You’ll wake up much more refreshed and ready to tackle any class.
- Join a study group. Studying doesn’t have to be a lonely business. If there’s anything that I’ve really learned about people in college, it’s that it’s better to struggle together than struggle alone. Joining a study group will not only help you study better and smarter, but also having other people to study with means getting more perspective when you reach a problem. And who knows, you might even make some friends with your new study buddies.
- Light some candles. Sometimes we’re not aware of the smallest things that can affect our environment. Scents can help you hone in on your work and leave you in a state of stress-free bliss. Lemon and lavender are the best for easing your emotions and promoting a sense of tranquility.
- Put the phone away. One of the biggest roadblocks to creating a peaceful and stress-free study space is, of course, our phones. Even when you’re not studying it’s best to lessen your time with your phone during midterm week as social media is usually a huge stressor for some people. Personally, I like to put my phone on vibrate and put it away in a drawer, that way it’s out of sight and out of mind. So instead of waiting for that Twitter timeline to update, go outside and enjoy some fresh air away from the screen.
- Start exercising. Believe it or not, and despite all the sweat, a good workout is an amazing activity to reduce stress. Whether you do 30 minutes on the treadmill, plan a date with your yoga mat, or pencil in some time with a punching bag, exercising can help you work out your frustrations. Choosing some kind of physical activity will also help release all the tension you may be feeling because of midterm week.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone learns and studies differently. So if someone is understanding the class better or is whizzing through that practice test with much more ease than you, don’t sweat it. Go at the pace you’re most comfortable with. If you start comparing someone else’s markers for success to your own, you’ll end up stressing yourself out more over something that doesn’t matter. Focus on your path and no one else’s.
- Avoid exam “post-mortem.” A lot of people assume that stress from midterm week happens before you take the exam, but for some of us, the stress really starts after. We spend periods of time post-test wondering what our grade is and what we could have done differently. Sometimes the stress is worse than before. But the bottom line is that stress that stems from midterm week should end once midterm week ends. There’s no use in adding more weight on your shoulders thinking about what you could’ve done differently. If there’s anything to truly take away from college, it’s that there is a life beyond exams and tests. You aren’t defined by a test score. One bad grade won’t ruin your life, so don’t let the stress of one exam and midterm week control you.
Do you have any tips on how to reduce stress during midterm week? Let us know in the comments below!
Opening image by Abby Aguirre.