Quick and Dirty Relaxation Tips for Midterm Season (Or Anytime You’re Feeling Stressed)

By: Alex Cole

Campus Sherpa Staff Writer, William and Mary University

Depending on your campus’s academic schedule, midterms might be a week or two away, or you may have the bulk of your exams behind you. Regardless of when your midterms are scheduled, it’s probably inevitable that you’re going to be stressed at some point soon in the semester. Luckily, you don’t just have to suffer through a stressful day (or week, or semester); as a college sophomore and a soon-to-be yoga instructor, I have plenty of tips for keeping calm despite a heavy workload.

Breathe Through It

Breathing is so instinctive that we often taken it for granted. But breathing is connected to your heartrate, so slowing down your breath is the quickest way to sooth racing thoughts and sweaty palms right before heading into an exam or when studying is making you feel anxious. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths, being conscious of completely filling and then emptying your lungs. Try taking at least five deep breaths and then check in with yourself. Feeling calm yet?

Try Meditation

Meditation isn’t just for Tibetan monks; there are apps for it! Calm.com is both a website and an app that offers free guided mindful meditation sessions. You choose the length of time you want to meditate, pop in your earbuds, and sit in a comfortable position as a narrator guides you through the process—no “ohms” necessary. Meditation is great because it simultaneously calms and reenergizes you, making it the perfect way to take a study break.

Phone a Friend

Sometimes, talking to someone outside the situation is a great way to remove yourself from the stress of exams. During a week where I have a ton going on, I love to call one of my close friends from high school who now attends a different college than me. Since her exam schedule is different than mine, she’s always able to offer a calm, outside viewpoint. A good phone call with a friend can solve almost any problem.

Make sleep a priority

There’s no way to get around it—sleep HAS to be a priority. No matter how good you are at getting by with only a few hours of sleep, it’ll hinder your cognitive abilities if you’re not getting enough rest. When deciding when to call it quits on studying for the night, keep your personal health in mind and commit to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night when you’re swamped with work for the week.

Keep Things in Perspective

Although midterms are important, keep them in perspective. Doing poorly on one or two exams is not going to ruin your GPA or prevent you from getting a good job. With that in mind, it’s easy to change your mindset and feel confident and relaxed, rather than terrified, when you head in for your next midterm.


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