By: Francesca Kennedy | @
With the beautiful fall colours inevitably arrives the dreaded midterm season. It’s overwhelming, and always comes much sooner that you think it will. However, there are ways to manage and even overcome this pressure. With a little practice, this stressful season gets easier.
Late night study sessions tear deeply into important sleep time. It may seem like the assignment is your first priority, but your health should always come first.
Train yourself to put down assignments at a cut off time like midnight, and set a morning alarm to start working again. If worse comes to worse, look at the late penalties and weigh it against the quality of your writing. Is it worth getting no sleep and handing in an average paper on time, or a solid sleep and a great mark with a minimal late penalty?
Eat (mostly) Right
Keeping on the health theme, eating right will also help you manage that study stress. Eating high-protein meals will help boost your energy levels. For snacking, turn to fruits and vegetables. Preparation in advance is key to making sure you don’t slip and order pizza for the third night in a row.
That being said, everyone deserves motivational awards, so keep a box of your favourite cookies on hand for those pick-me-up moments.
Take Study Breaks
Some people follow the 50 minute work, 10 minute break rule. Others the 10 minute work 50 minute break rule. While the latter may not be so productive, study breaks are essential to keeping yourself sane and de-stressed. Walk your dog, go out to your local Tim Hortons for a coffee. Anything to get a change of scenery.
Different planning tools work for different people, but having a clear visual reminder of the work you need to do helps you plan your time and avoid procrastination. Calendars hung over your desk or to-do lists posted on your fridge are something physical to remind yourself to work. I would also avoid using electronic to-do lists or calendars in this case. Even though you can set alerts and reminders, it is easy to click “ignore” or simply not open the app.
The key to surviving midterm season is prioritization. Look at your list of assignments, and deconstruct them. Factors you may want to consider are:
Due dates: Which assignment is due first?
Assignment length: A 15 page paper may need an early start date more than a 5 page paper.
Assignment content: Is it research-based? A report? Opinion-based? Certain types of work require more or less time. Plan accordingly.
Group work: Group assignments inevitably take longer than planned.
Don’t forget to always allow for more time than you need!
Sitting at a desk writing all day is not good for you. Even if you don’t go to the gym or enjoy running, take five minutes every now and then to go for a walk. Wander around the neighbourhood or even pace around the house to alleviate writer’s block and avoid that stiff neck you’ll get tomorrow.
Midterm season often translates to students locking themselves in their rooms, pouring over a pile of textbooks. Humans aren’t meant to be away from others for long periods of time. If you have group projects, try to meet up rather than use group chat, go visit a friend, or even phone your parents and talk about non-school related topics.
This one is hard if you’re living in residence or a bachelor apartment, but well worth the effort. Try to separate your study space from your social or sleep space. Don’t work in or next to your bed because your stress will seep into other aspects of your life. Go to the library, use a study room, or even try a coffee shop for some distance.
Check in with yourself. Learn to recognize destructive stress patterns and find solutions that work for you. Mood-monitoring apps are a great way to do this, but so is simply having some “down-time”. Buy a book that is completely unrelated to your courses, download a new album, and dedicate some time each day to relaxing.
Midterm season is long and overwhelming, so don’t forget to celebrate each little accomplishment! Each step is a progression towards your success. Met your reading goal? Page goal? Assignment complete? Take a moment to give yourself the praise you deserve, and maybe one of those cookies you bought earlier.