Midterm Stress Put to the Test

By Francine Szerer

Ah Fall! My favorite season! Class is back and the weather is divine. It almost feels like a new start. As the new school year rolls in and classes that I was once so excited for begin to progress, I find myself feeling stuck. Work begins to pile on and my anxiety nears it’s all-time high. I run the risk of letting all of my fears and negative emotions take control. I call this the pre-midterm slump and, once you’re in, it can be pretty impossible to get out of. Here are some steps that work for almost any droop you may feel yourself sliding into.

  1. Take a moment for yourself:

Mornings are full opportunities for “me time.” Try to wake up earlier than you need to. Make your bed (see step 4). Not everyone can chug down some breakfast (I certainly can’t), but try to find something to make yourself in the morning so that your day starts with you. Don’t just run to class or to whatever it is that you need to do. Take a moment, breathe deeply and just think about how you want your day to go. I am all about journaling and getting your thoughts on paper, so if this is something that speaks to– write down what you want to achieve that day.

  1. Let loose:

Relax, take it easy. What does that really mean? Letting loose is whatever it takes to bring forth some peace of mind. For some relaxing is taking a bath or meditating. For others it could be a nice cup of froyo with extra toppings and for a small few (just kidding), it may be the adrenaline rush that follows a great SoulCycle class. Take whatever is causing stress and ask yourself: are these things actually large issues or are we creating them into something bigger than it needs to be? Don’t let what you perceive to be shortcomings become you. Just love yourself just because you are you.

  1. Choose who you want to be:

Joan Didion remarkably said that “we tell ourselves stories in order to live,” and there is so much truth to this statement. Build yourself off who you want to be, not what everyone’s expectations make you out to be. Allow your thoughts and ideas to lead the trajectory of your life, not your fears and insecurities.

  1. Conquer:

One day, or day one. Decide if today is the day to conquer your fears. Make your bed. It’s the little step of conquering that first task that allows to approach every task that comes your way with the same conquistador mentality.

  1. Organize:

The key to any successful midterm is organization. Know yourself, know how much time you’ll need and what exactly it is that you’ll need to study. I like to start off with a list  of everything I’ll need. This list starts off mostly illegible but, a few drafts later I have every single one of my exam topics marked underlying which type of study guide I need to write and what other study supplies I may need to succeed. Find your success tools and organize yourself with time so that you know what you’re up against.

  1. Prepare:

Know that whatever happens, it’s going to be okay. Picture your worst possible fear. In this case let’s make it a midterm fear. Okay, got it? Now take that fear and start thinking about the bigger picture. Will this midterm really ultimately derail whatever I want to accomplish in the larger scheme of things? In most cases, no. Odds are your fear is very unlikely to ever happen. Your mind is capable of creating the most creatively scary scenarios that probably won’t ever get a chance to happen. But it is still important, to ease those terrible thoughts, and articulate a Plan B. Know what you need to work towards just in case Plan A doesn’t work out. You cannot control everything that happens in your life but you can control how it affects you. No matter what happens things are going to be okay. Equipped with that knowledge you can really overcome anything. Don’t let your good problems get the best of you because these problems bring about growth. Perfection doesn’t exist, but being the best version of you that you can be does. Getting back up after you fall is what makes you the best possible version of yourself, and that is wonderful. Don’t be scared. Trust your boundaries, know them and never be afraid to challenge them.

  1. Appreciate:

Lastly, list the things that you are most appreciative for. Once you start numerating them physically on paper, it’s helps seal in that feeling of consistency, calm, and gratitude. Compartmentalizing the things that make your life great also helps widen the spectrum in which you view your life. Only by acknowledging what makes your life great can you then fix what doesn’t.

Best of luck to all of you on all the things you wish to accomplish this October! We got this!

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