How to get through the semester without having a total freak out

We are in the midst of midterms, which is arguably the most stressful time of the semester. 

It seems as though professors are really starting to pile on the assignments and that our exams all seem to be falling on the same days. This doesn’t even account for all of our responsibilities outside of school. We have jobs (some of us have multiple) and our own personal lives and relationships to keep up with. Sometimes saying that we’re overwhelmed is an understatement.

It can be hard to find a balance between work, school, personal lives and what is arguably the most important: taking care of ourselves. No matter how much we might have going on, self-care should be our first priority. After all, how are we supposed to accomplish goals if we aren’t taking care of our own physiological and mental needs? 

There are certain steps we can take to prevent excessive stress during exams and when the semester gets tough. First and foremost, keep vigilant. It is crucial to stay aware of exam dates and assignment deadlines. Start studying and reviewing test materials ahead of time, and try to prevent waiting until the last minute to study and complete assignments. When we procrastinate, we open doors to panic and anxiety. It is far better to get things done ahead of time, though it is much easier said than done. 

As the workload increases over the semester, we have to keep a healthy mindset. Try not to leave yourself susceptible to getting overwhelmed by reminding yourself that your work will get done and that it will eventually end. Stress won’t make us better at our assignments, nor will it help us to maintain focus. 

During rigorous study sessions or while we are writing essays, it is important to take breaks. Getting up to stretch, drink water or simply just breath can do wonders for our stress levels. Overloading ourselves with stress is unhealthy. These breaks help us to keep up with that healthy frame of mind. 

When I’m stressed, I know I am much more susceptible to worry. When I have a lot on my plate, I tend to think about whether or not I can get my tasks done on time or if I can even do them well at all. When we get overwhelmed with work, it’s easy to get lost in worry. Our thoughts wander, and we become distracted. 

For example, if you’re studying for a midterm and you’re not retaining the material, you are likely to start worrying about failing the exam. If you fail the exam, you might fail the class. If you fail the class, your GPA will suffer the consequences. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in this way of thinking, and it’s detrimental to what we are trying to accomplish because it exhausts us, both physically and mentally. Worrying won’t solve anything. It is important to practice self-care, even when life gets to be too much. 

First and foremost, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and eating right. If you’re stressed, maybe take a break and have some hot herbal tea or a nice bath. Take time to clear your head and calm your thoughts. Deep breathing exercises can do wonders, as well. 

If you get too overwhelmed, however, never hesitate to reach out to someone you feel comfortable to talk to about what you’re feeling. Staying calm and level-headed is the best basis for successfully navigating a stressful semester. 

Midterms and the rigorous second half of the semester are difficult to navigate, especially when we have a lot on our plates, but it is totally doable with the right frame of mind and a good support system.