Stressed students are singing the midterm blues


Alyssa Glover

Image by Alyssa Glover.

It seems like just last week we were frolicking around campus throwing our syllabi in the bottom of our backpacks to collect dust. We would go to the Mine on Tuesdays and Sigma Phi Epsilon on Wednesdays. A healthy diet and lifestyle seemed attainable.

Now, as the cool air of autumn has begun to set in, the joy and energy on campus has been slightly dampened. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are spent in Collins Library with a cup (or three) of coffee. We have to visit our class Moodle pages and actually refer to the the syllabus for our assignments. Maintaining a healthy diet has become a challenge.

It is that point in the semester. Stress is setting in, temperatures are dropping, and many students are getting sick. Although October is a beautiful time of the year, it is also a time where many students start to get the midterm blues.

Feeling sad, stressed, or beat down is almost a standard for college students at this time. Thankfully, fall break provided a well-timed pause, but two short days away from campus will not eliminate the stress that many students feel.

Stress is obviously a good trigger at times. It motivates students to work harder and can help us push through challenges that would not be overcome otherwise. However, it is easy to feel anxious under conditions where one feels loss of control or balance.

As an example, I felt myself struggling under pressure just last week with an advanced accounting test, two presentations, and a test in my capstone course. Unfortunately, when I am stressed, I almost never sleep.

We all have our different ways of coping with stress and some people do more effectively than others. Campus Mind Works states, “when experienced in excess, stress has the opposite effect. It can harm our emotional and physical health, and limit our ability to function at home, in school, and within our relationships.”

The good news is that there are a lot of healthy ways to cope with stress and manage anxiety caused by school.

Here are some of my favorite tips to cope with stress:

  1. Take a Step Back. Realize that the way you feel now will not last forever. You will be happy and carefree again. You will survive this week. Set a goal to make it through a certain day and make sure you are OK with sacrificing sleep and socializing to get the necessities done.
  2. Plan Out the Coming Days/Hours in Advance. Last weekend I set aside time during the day to write a paper due later in the week. Planning ahead allowed me to cope with the other pressing tasks I had going on during the week with my major-related classes. I did not have to worry about writing a paper with all the other events going on. Although I had to sacrifice time on a weekend, forcing myself to sit down and just do it was worth it by far in the long run.
  3. Do Something for Yourself. Plan at least one hour a day to meditate, pray, go on a walk, exercise or make a healthy meal. You will feel refreshed and motivated by taking care of yourself. I have a prayer journal I utilize nightly and it helps me to sleep peacefully and detox from the thoughts buzzing around in my head.
  4. Let Your Friends/Peers Know How You Are Feeling. Let those around you know that you are stressed. Do not be afraid to ask for advice. I like to ask my friends if I am being rational about situations during stressful weeks so I can make sure that I am thinking logically versus emotionally.
  5. Lastly, Stay Positive. There is nothing worse than feeling hopeless when you think about everything coming up ahead of you in the future. Take things day by day and remind yourself that you are in the exact place in life at this exact moment for a reason. You can do this and if you fail then it is not the end of the road. You will learn from failures and be steered to the correct life path because of them.

Obviously, not all of these are foolproof. I definitely advocate using the free counseling services provided with Baker tuition to anyone who needs more than the baseline amount of help.

Set your sights on the future celebrations of Christmas, followed by interterm. Let’s get motivated to power through the rest of this semester.