Anna Schultz-Girl On Computer Stress

5 Refreshing Ways to Combat Midterm Stress

At this point in the semester, it feels like there is an endless number of big projects that suck all of our energy and joy, like some kind of midterm vampire. As we all suffer through exam after exam and paper after paper, it’s important to remember to take some time and just breathe. I find that the key to staying confident and motivated during high-stress times is knowing that it is good to take breaks during an intense study or writing session. After all, taking breaks while studying increases productivity!

Don't worry, though! After finishing three midterm papers last week, I have picked up a few creative strategies that make this overwhelming period bearable. Here's some of my favorite short but relaxing activities to do between papers, or even just between paragraphs: 


Courtesy: Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

  1. 1. Make a To-Do List.

    Ok, maybe this one isn’t exactly a break, but it’s still a great way to manage stress. At points in the semester when I have a lot of assignments, especially a few exams or papers at the same time, I write out a to-do list. Not just any to-do list, though. I like to use a cute homework planner by Sophie Lee. (Thank you, Pinterest!) To make it fun, I write with colorful pens or markers, picking a different color for every class. This activity is super helpful because it allows you to create a schedule, or at least a list of deadlines, that helps you keep track of assignments. Plus, you'll feel satisfied every time you check something off the list.

  2. 2. Watch a Movie. Rewatch a TV Show. But Don't Start a New Series.

    If you need a longer break, watching something, whether it is a movie or a TV show, is the way to go. In the spirit of relaxation, I recommend watching something that makes you feel good or makes you laugh. Comedy specials are always nice because they are usually about an hour, which helps you not to get too distracted. If I want something shorter, I am a sucker (pun intended for Jonas Brothers fans!) for rewatching Friends or The Big Bang Theory. If you pick something light-hearted, it usually leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into studying. 

    I usually decide between a movie or TV show based on what I have just accomplished or what day of the week it is. If I have just finished a paper or studying for an exam, I watch a movie. Likewise, if it is the weekend and I know I have an extended period to work, I also opt for a movie. On the other hand, if I just need a break from the same assignment or it is a weekday, I watch an episode from a TV show (usually one that's 20-minutes). Be careful, though. Now is probably not the best time to start watching a new series. It might end up distracting you more than you initally imagine—we all know the temptation of "just one more episode."

  3. 3. Listen to Some Throwback Music.

    If you need a quick break, listening to a single song is really effective. I know a lot of us listen to music as we write or study, but sometimes immersing yourself in a song can be exactly what you need. For this break, I recommend picking an old song that you love and know all the words to. Just listening to a single song, which usually only lasts three or four minutes, offers a brief pause from your hard work and also puts you in a calmer mindset that reenergizes your motivation. Plus, when you listen to a song you love, you can sing along! Or, just mouth the words if you are on the third floor of the library. Right now, my go-to is any song on the Jonas Brothers’ new album, Happiness Begins, but I’m also always ready for a throwback Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift song.

  4. 4. Get a Coffee, or Tea, or Hot Chocolate.

    Sometimes the best break is getting some fresh air. If you are like me, walking around outside may not be your first choice. But if you have a destination, it might end up being worthwhile. As autumn is in full swing and Connecticut is getting colder by the day, treat yourself to a hot beverage. Go to your favorite coffee shop on campus, like Coffee Grounds or Blue Camel. Another, less obvious choice is going to Harris and filling up your own mug or travel cup. Then you can go back to studying with a nice, hot drink in hand!

  5. 5. Call a Friend from Home. Or your parents.

    When you need to take a step back and just vent, call a friend from home. Since everyone at Conn is stressed and has midterms within the same couple weeks, it is the perfect time to check in on some of your friends from home. Hearing a familiar voice is always comforting, and no one is better to vent and complain to than a best friend. Or you can just call your parents. Honestly, I still do this one. Regularly. Even if you are still adjusting to Conn (I still am and it's my second year!), having your parents listen to you go on and on about your paper on the 800-pg. novel you have been reading for weeks now, or that really big Botany midterm that you've been studying like crazy for, can be such a relief. And, who knows? Maybe venting about your classes will help you find what you are really passionate about!

Midterms are never easy, but allowing yourself to recharge is important if you want to stay on your A-game. These five breaks can be as short or as long as you want, just remember to tailor them to your needs in the moment. And if you find something that works for you, add it to your regular routine! Just remember you got this, and it will all be over soon. Good Luck!