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Beat midterms without beating yourself up

by Alexandra Weaver - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Oct 10th 2017 11:00 am
Photo courtesy of pexels.com
Keep your arms inside the ride at all times!  Much like a roller coaster, once the semester starts going, it goes fast. Strap in, get those assignments and midterms done, but don't forget to take care of yourself while you do it, or you're just hurting yourself and your grades.
Photo courtesy of pexels.com Keep your arms inside the ride at all times! Much like a roller coaster, once the semester starts going, it goes fast. Strap in, get those assignments and midterms done, but don't forget to take care of yourself while you do it, or you're just hurting yourself and your grades.

If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “Holy f***ing s***, how is it already midterms? Didn’t the semester just starts yesterday?” 

Midterms can really sneak up on you and take you by surprise. The slow wind-up of fall semester is a lot like slowly going uphill on a roller coaster and suddenly dropping out of the sky at over 100 miles per hour. You’re juggling 12 assignments at once and trying to find time to finish everything and study. Just like a roller coaster, it’s enough to make you scream. 

Once you’ve screamed for a bit, it’s important to come up with a solution to the mountain of work, as well as a solution for keeping yourself sane while you do it all, or at least as sane as you can possibly stay with that many things to do at once. 

Managing your stress levels is important at all times of the year, but especially during midterms. 

According to owlcation.com, stress can have all kinds of negative effects on your ability to learn, including physical effects like headaches, back pain, upset stomach, difficulties concentrating, memory problems and self-defeating thoughts. 

I’m going to avoid giving study tips and focus mostly on tips to cut down on stress, because there is no one-size-fits-all way to study. Everyone retains information in different ways. Some people can cram and some people can’t. Some people need flash cards and some people don’t. Frankly, study tips can be pretty stressful, because halfway through the list of 10 study tips you’re convinced you’ve been studying the wrong way your whole life. 

If you find yourself getting stressed out by long study sessions, try taking a 10 minute break. This is probably the third time I’ve suggested taking a break over the course of writing this column, but it really can be the most effective method of self-care in a lot of situations. 

According to HuffPost.com, the best ways to have a relaxing break are to get up and move, avoid scrolling through social media (as it can often cause more stress than anything else), talk to someone or practice some deep breathing. If you can, try to combine as many of those elements as you possibly can; for example, doing yoga with some friends outside. 

Make sure to eat and drink. I’m probably not in a place to say that, because I don’t remember to eat or drink, but it’s important. If you don’t eat enough, you won’t have sufficient energy. As tempting as coffee, tea or energy drinks can be when you’re stressed out, at a certain point you should switch to water. Mayo Clinic, Livescience, NPR and plenty of other sources all dispel the myth that caffeine dehydrates you, but more than 400 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of four cups of coffee or two energy drinks, can begin to cause negative effects, such as insomnia, irritability or upset stomach. 

Try to keep things in perspective. If you tend to have catastrophic thoughts, remember that you can pass a class even if you bomb the midterm. You can make up for lost points on your midterm by doing well on other assignments or by doing extra credit. Always remember that it is doable. You’ve been in the class for six weeks. You know the material and you’ve taken tests before. Look at midterms like you would look at any other test and they’ll seem less intimidating. 

Be around animals. According to NPR, it’s actually been scientifically proven that animals help reduce stress levels. Whether it’s petting a dog or holding a small animal, animals increase your body’s levels of oxytocin, which is a stress relieving hormone. 

Lastly, once this hell is over, enjoy the extra two days off. Even if you have some heartless professors who assign work over mid-semester break, make an effort to go somewhere, see people or enjoy yourself. 

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