Midterms Got You Feeling Down?

Put the stress to rest with a couple friendly tips

Assistant Editor-in-Chief Hannah Hawkins
Photography by Brian Wild

Death, taxes and midterm stress. It’s inevitable.

Okay, so maybe a handful of you who didn’t have a single midterm these past few weeks. Lucky you - consider yourself blessed.

But for the majority of us, we were - and maybe still are - burdened with the depressing fact of having to take a midterm exam in order to 1) prove our knowledge of what we just spent the last several weeks of our lives learning, 2) stay on track with the syllabus, assuming the instructor didn’t throw that out a long time ago, and 3) give the instructor one more thing to grade.

While I do agree midterms can be a useful tool for aiding in the progression of our college career, I don’t understand why do they all have to fall at relatively the same time.

In my case, I had midterms in three upper division classes all on the same day, plus a quiz in another class. Not to mention working 30 hours a week, plus drill for the Army National Guard on the weekend, plus editing and writing for Ke Kalahea.

I’m not asking for pity. Far from it. I know there are plenty of you out there who have crazier schedules than me. All I’m saying is, I feel your pain.

So what are we as college students supposed to do? Everyone is different and handles stress in different ways. Some people start to feel physically sick, others have an emotional breakdown, and some may even shake it off, like it’s nothing to worry about. (We all envy these people.)

According to the American Psychological Association, stress is “your body’s natural alarm system - the ‘fight or flight’ response.” Stress is not necessarily always a negative thing (sometimes it causes us to perform better than normal, that “under pressure” feel.)

But stress, if not handled correctly, may lead to chronic problems and “if the threat is unremitting...the long term effects of stressors can damage health,” according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. So how do we combat these issues?

I’m not a doctor, so I don’t have all the answers. However, as a fellow college student, I offer some advice: do whatever works for you. Maybe you want to experiment and try different approaches, or maybe you already know what works for you - that's fine, too. Just please take care of yourself. And help support others, if you see them struggling with stress.

The Anxiety Disorders Association of America offers these tips for dealing with stress or anxiety:

  • Take a timeout.
  • Eat well-balanced meals.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Count to ten slowly.
  • Do your best.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything.
  • Welcome humor.
  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Get involved.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety.
  • Talk to someone.
  • Get help online.

Happy Students

Roller Derby Student fitness Club

After reading several articles on ‘What to do about stress,’ I decided to make a ideas for myself. Here are a couple things I came up with that either I have done, or know someone who uses this method.

  • Plan, and execute, a fun workout. (Extra points for choreographing some dance moves to a 30 second clip of your favorite song.)
  • Get a drink. (If it’s alcoholic, be legal and responsible. I don’t think getting arrested for a DUI will lower your stress level by any means.)
  • Blast some music, preferably in the presence of friends. (Just be sure not to do it at 3 a.m. and wake your neighbors.)
  • Write a love note to yourself. (Talk about how amazing you are, how bangin’ your body is, how stylish your wardrobe is, etc. Make it as ridiculous as possible.)
  • Get physical. (Take this however you want to, just don’t hurt anyone. For me, I ‘detox’ by hitting girls on roller skates. Yep, I go to roller derby practice and hip-check girls on the track to alleviate aggression and stress.)
  • Get on Youtube. (Look up some video like “People Are Awesome” or something that reminds you not to worry about things but to enjoy life. Just make sure you don’t get too distracted from studying from your midterms.)
  • Take a joyride. (Jump in a car with your friends and go for a drive down the coastline. Appreciate the freedom.)
  • Go explore. (Do something you haven’t done before or go somewhere you’ve never been.)
  • Find peace in the familiar. (Go to that place or thing that brings you the most comfort and relax there for a minute.)
  • Enjoy the presence of a true friend. (Text or call a close friend and schedule a time to hang out. Good company can be invaluable.)
  • Do something hilarious for others. (I have one of those blow-up T-Rex costumes, and I’ll jump in it and skate around just to make people laugh...funny how it helps me feel happier too!)
  • Sleep in. (Schedule a morning where you have no agenda. Sleep as long as you can, then get up and go for coffee, a donut, or something else enjoyable.)

In the words of Donna from Parks and Rec, “treat yo self.” (For instance, buy yourself a good meal at your favorite restaurant, for no real reason! You deserve it.)

A woman and a child next to a box of donuts

An entertainer in a dinosour costume