Quick and Easy Tips to De-stress during Midterm Season

Midterm season is upon us. Between group meetings and all-nighters, mental health seems to fall by the wayside. But it’s extremely important to find easy ways to de-stress and avoid burnout. Self-care is a must but not everyone has a spare moment for “me time.” Here are five quick tips to calm your brain without cutting too much into your busy study schedule.


Set the right soundtrack

When you get down to studying or even just as a pick me up while you walk to class, different sounds can really set the tone. This means different things for different people. Maybe you need to bop along to some Bac while you speed-write an essay. Maybe you have to blast Woman by Kesha to tell yourself that you are amazing and that you going to ace your exam. Or maybe this means putting on a 10-hour “vintage fan” white-noise video on YouTube to drown out the group two tables over who are still arguing about their project. Whatever your decision, this is a simple step that can get you into the studying mindset or brighten your mood during these dark, dark times.

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This is honestly just good life advice in general, but it is especially important during particularly stressful times. There is a real scientific link between water and stress relief! Dehydration increases cortisol (aka the stress hormone) levels in the brain. So times that not hydrating while stressed will just increase your stress levels. Along the same lines, drinking tea while you study is another easy way to de-stress. It’s not as hydrating as water but many teas have proven to have relaxing qualities. Peppermint tea is one of my go-to stress remedies. Menthol is a natural muscle relaxant and the fresh clean smell helps me clear my thoughts. Other common de-stress teas are lemon, chamomile, and hibiscus.

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Get some pick-me-up snacks

You might not have enough time or funds for a real “treat yo self” moment, but even a little bit of positive reinforcement can go a long way. Go raid CVS or Giant over the weekend and pick yourself up some treats. This is an easy way to manufacture some motivation or give yourself a snack break. Reward yourself after finishing a draft of that paper you’ve been working on with a Dorito break. Have a Hershey Kiss every time you finish a chapter (or paragraph on especially rough nights) in your readings. You can save the real “because I deserve it” feast for next week, but these little rewards are easy to fit into a busy schedule and give you something to smile about this midterm season.

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Do breathing exercises

It may sound obvious but an important part of stress relief is proper breathing. The benefits of deep breathing are well documented and it’s considered one of the best ways to reduce stress. Deep breathing gets more oxygen to the brain and which stimulates a whole host of de-stressing responses. A simple breathing exercise is square breathing, where you breathe in for a four count, hold for four, out for four, hold for four, then repeat. There are also tons of apps and gifs that will give you exercises to get your breathing back on track. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a couple of minutes to just b r e a t h e.

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Do some mini mindfulness tasks

Mindfulness is a concept in positive psychology that has been proven very useful in maintaining and improving general mental health. It involves focussing on the present and allowing thoughts to flow through your mind without judgment. It is often considered a sub-type of meditation, but mindfulness is usually less involved or time-consuming than full meditation. Fitting little mindfulness tasks between work and studying can be a great way to keep your cognitive energy up. One common mindfulness task that is used in many stress relief situations is counting down your senses. It involves taking a moment to name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. There are tons of other quick and easy mindfulness tasks that you can incorporate into your study breaks to really take your de-stressing to the next level.

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Midterms and finals are always rough but we’ll all make it through. Don’t sacrifice your mental well being for a grade; it’s just not worth it. If you are feeling overwhelmed, make an appointment with the counseling center by calling 202-885-3500.

Photo Credits: cover, 1, 2, 3, 4