Midterm Madness Coping Strategies

Hannah Elbaum ’19
Copy Editor

Over the next few weeks, the Stress Olympics will have their opening ceremonies of the year; midterms are approaching. Maybe there are four essays and three exams, not to mention the current event to find and reflect on and the translation of a play to submit by Friday. There’s no way around it, midterms bring out the perfectionist Smith student in all of us. Some degree of perfectionism, like the goals of working hard and giving your best effort, certainly helpful, but other aspects like stress and staying up all night are definitely not. Help keep yourself calm during midterms with these techniques:

1. Music: The great thing about technology is that it is so easy to make something your own. Use your iTunes library, Spotify, Pandora or 8tracks to create a few playlists; one for every mood! Have a quiet, instrumental one to provide background noise while you study, a dance party one for when you and your friends need to let off some steam and a comforting playlist for when you just need to lie in bed and snuggle with your old stuffed animal.  Music is the language of the soul, and having so many playlists at your fingertips will help you express your emotions and get yourself in the mood to rock your midterms.

2. Sleep: You have heard it before, and here it is again: sleep is your number one best friend in the path to success. If you have a hard time getting to bed at night, ensure that your bed is a sleeping-only space. This technique keeps it a stress-free zone. About half an hour before you want to turn off the lights, put away the electronics and journal, read a book or engage in a pre-bedtime routine. This signals your body and brain that it is time for rest. Additionally, sticking to a routine bedtime and wake-up cycle will help you feel the most rested throughout the day so you don’t doze off during a lecture.

3. Breakfast: Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day just because it’s pretty on Instagram. Starting off your day with a protein-packed meal sets the tone for having lots of energy to tackle all those library study sessions. It’s not just important to make sure you are eating breakfast, though. It’s also crucial to make sure the food you are eating will provide long-term energy. Skip the sugary cereals — those will give you lots of energy and then an intense sugar crash — and go for eggs or oatmeal instead. These protein-rich foods will have you smiling in your 9 a.m. class.

4. Checklist: For some people, a check list can feel overwhelming because of all they have to complete, but in all honesty, the list of tasks probably seems more amplified and daunting in your head than on paper. Using a checklist to track all your assignments will not only keep you organized about what is due when and to which professor, but it will also give you continual motivation and satisfaction as you check each item off the list. If you want to further motivate yourself, attach a piece of candy or a sticker to each task, which you get to remove once you finish. A little positive reinforcement can go a long way.

5. Friends: During midterms, there is a tendency for everyone to head into hibernation, never leaving their room or continuing to blow off plans for the library. As you study, make sure to leave time to hang out with the people who make you happy. If you don’t feel that you can spare a whole evening, make a lunch date with someone you haven’t seen in a few days and catch up with each other. You both have lots going on in your lives, but maintaining a friendship is important, too.

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