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Mid-semester Blues: Reminder to Take a Breath

It’s March, midterms are in full swing by now, and you’re going full speed ahead to make sure you don’t fall behind in your classes. I’ve always felt more stressed out during the Spring semester than during the fall (maybe summer break is just long enough to get yourself together again). You’re aware that all of your classes suddenly combined into a perfect storm: multiple homework assignments each night, you have too many club meetings for one day, and you still have to study for three midterms next week…. and you’re flat out stressed.

Source// Giphy

Stress acts differently on everyone. You may or may not know, but there’s two types of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress (or positive stress) is the kind that pushes you to do better on your exams or gives you a short-term boost in energy. Distress is the negative stress that can be short or long-term, causes anxiety, and leads to mental and physical problems over time. Signs of distress include:

  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits

  • Skipping class

  • Changes or withdrawal from social contact

  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy

  • Problems concentrating

  • Change in emotions

Source// US News Health

Whether it’s the amount of classwork you’re struggling with or other sources in your life that are causing stress for long periods of time, it’s good to put in perspective what you can do to overcome the hurdle. Here are a few things that can help:

1. Plan it out

Source// Commit30

Last semester, I barely used my planner and was able to keep track of everything in my brain. This semester: it’s my lifeline. Writing everything down will help take the load off your shoulders (and brain) to visually see where you have space in each day to fit everything in.

2. Fit something fun into your schedule

Source// Sun Kissed Hiker

When all you have is work piled on top of work, it’s easy to forget to do something for yourself. Working out is a great stress reliever to increase the production of feel-good endorphins, help you sleep better, and lower anxiety (source: Mayo Clinic). Go to an event on campus just for fun. Set aside some time to watch an episode or two of your favorite Netflix series. You can spare an hour or two to improve your motivation in the long run.

3. Take a mental health day

Source// Giphy

When I feel that I really need it, I typically allow myself one or two days a semester when I can afford to skip class, club meetings, and have no upcoming deadlines to focus on myself for the whole day. It’s nice to treat yourself to takeout and sleep in after you’ve been working hard week after week. I feel rejuvenated the next day, and it gives me the extra push to keep working. Don’t make it a habit and start skipping class all the time though.

4. Talk to someone

Source// Safety4Sea

Talk to a friend and let some stress off each other. Call your mom up and have a good chat. It’ll help to get the worries off your chest, and also distract yourself by listening to others to hear what’s new in their lives. There’s also the Let’s Talk program at CU that’s a casual yet confidential talk with a counselor if you want to chat with someone outside of your circle. CAPS is always around if you feel that things are especially overwhelming.

Source// Giphy

If anything, know that the semester is half over. You’ve come so far and are doing an amazing job! College is hard; it’s an amazing yet overwhelming experience. There are weeks where it’s hard, but keep up the hard work and don’t forget that spring break is around the corner!


Kendyll Boback

CU Boulder '20

Kendyll is currently a junior at CU Boulder studying Integrative Physiology. She grew up in Castle Pines, CO and works part-time as a barista. In her free time, you can find her at the gym, cooking up some new recipes, petting all the dogs on campus, and looking for a group to go hiking with!
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