It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right, it’s that beautiful part of the semester again when getting a spot at Library West becomes a game of survival of the fittest and the wails of Physics 1 students can be heard clear across campus. Isn’t it wonderful? Don’t you love being fearful of your grade? It’s so invigorating. Okay, but really, we all know that midterms suck. It’s an unfortunate part of university life, especially if you’ve spent a good portion of said university life at Midtown rather than Turlington lecture. Even for the best student, though, midterm season can be stressful and overwhelming. Finding tricks to reduce that stress is critical. Below is a list of four things I use to keep my head on my shoulders during this trying time. Hopefully, they’ll help you too.
Find Your Study Space
Y’all, it’s time to get out of the dorm. Theoretically, studying at home is a good idea. You can control the space and it's where you’re most comfortable. However, spending one more night hunched over your faux-wood desk in a plastic seat trying to study by the dim light of the desk lamp you bought from Ikea isn’t going to help much. Finding your ideal study space is a way to be more productive and feel better at the same time. This can take many forms, the most obvious of which is a library. Heads up: we have more than Library West and Marston on campus. Love Harry Potter? Smathers has your back. Maybe you want to make your work feel more official? Go to the law library. If a library doesn’t work for you, that’s okay. I have a friend that takes up residence in an empty Turlington classroom every midterm and finals season. She swears by it. Personally, I enjoy working outside, particularly if it's a nice day outside. Murphree Area has a fantastic courtyard to work in, and places like Depot Park provide a change of environment without getting too far off campus.
I’m serious about getting out of the dorm or apartment. It can be a good place to be, but it can also be isolating. It’s beneficial to relocate -- and not just for studying. Taking time for yourself is a great way to manage stress. You don’t have to go and get lost in the wilderness an hour away and become one with nature; in fact, you don’t even have to leave campus. UF provides plenty of opportunities to give your mind a break. For example, the Reitz offers leisure courses. These classes give students an opportunity to learn a new skill, like learning how to make pasta from scratch, without having to worry about a grade. If you do want to get off campus, Gainesville has numerous opportunities to get away from the pressure of academic life. Free yoga is offered in Bo Diddley Plaza every Tuesday and Thursday, from six to seven in the evening. There’s also multiple nature trails throughout town, if you actually do want to get lost in the woods. Whatever you choose, just rest assured that you are helping yourself in the long run.
Keep Everything in Context
Do you remember that science test you had in high school, the one you were super nervous for and were scared to death of failing? Yeah, me neither. Turns out, we’ve had a lot of exams up to this point in life. At the time, each test seemed like a crucial moment in our life -- our destiny was dependent upon that. Looking back, though, we don’t really remember every single test. Believe it or not, college is like that too. It’s important to us now, and will not significantly impact the rest of our lives. Midterms are simply an obstacle on the road to graduation. It’s important to get through, but not life altering. If you do great, that’s fantastic! If you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. There is always a chance at redemption. Years down the road, you’ll barely remember the two hours spent in Carleton Auditorium. It is in your life, but it is not your whole life.
This is a metaphor. I don’t actually mean play the video game, just hear me out. Life is a game of Tetris. School work is an L block, sleep is an I block, socializing is a square...so on and so forth. If you don’t line things up correctly, it builds up. Eventually, they reach the top of the screen and you get overwhelmed. However, if all the pieces are assembled correctly, the line goes down, and so does your stress level. I try to make the pieces fit together by writing everything I need or want to do down. I prefer my planner, but that is an extremely recent development. Like, last semester recent. It doesn’t even have to be organized by date or time. Just writing it down with a pen and piece of printer paper can help keep you on track. Plus, crossing stuff off is ridiculously satisfying. I’ll be honest--sometimes I’ll finish a task just so I can cross it off. If the digital environment is more your speed, programs like Google Calendar can help. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but give it a try. Maybe writing down your assignment will keep you from another night of eating Ben and Jerry’s straight out of the pint.
Take a deep breath. It’s all going to work out. Good luck, and I’ll see you on the other side.