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College Success

What to Do (And Not Do) to Relax During Midterms

The beginning of the semester starts easy enough with syllabus week, small homework assignments and maybe a few quizzes. This makes it easy to slip into a false sense of security regarding the semester’s workload.

All of a sudden it’s the middle of the semester and you have four midterms and internship interviews and on top of all of that, everyone is sick. You’re halfway to the holiday break, but it has never seemed farther away.

It is so easy to drown in the amount of work you have to do (or in a poorly-timed Netflix binge). You’ll perform better if you also take time for yourself to recoup, relax and renew, so that you’re ready to dive back in.

Here are ten of my favorite ways to relax:

1. Exercise

I know that this is probably the last thing you wanted to hear, but exercise is my ultimate go-to for relaxing. It is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get your mind off of your work. Studies have shown that healthier people are happier and perform better at work and school. Use a 30 walk or run to take in the beautiful fall leaves!

2. Call your mom (or your dad or your best friend)

There’s nothing better than having someone you love remind you how awesome you are. Seriously. When I’m having a bad day or I’m stressed, I call my mom. She reminds me that while my exams are important, my performance on them is not the most important thing about me.

I can count on her to make me laugh, think about something other than myself and, if I’m being honest, roll my eyes at least a few times. I always hang up the phone feeling better.

3. Volunteer

Okay, this one is for when you can spare more than a few minutes. Volunteering is the absolute best way to take your mind off of your own problems. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, walk some puppies at the animal shelter or meet up with a little sister or brother.

4. Create something

Even if you don’t think you’re artistic, find some markers and paper and go make something. Paint, draw, sculpt, anything that makes you use your imagination. I like to blast Spotify and recreate sayings I’ve seen on Pinterest. Hey, it works!

5. Meditate or do yoga

Give yourself time to sit in silence. Take some deep breaths. Meditation can reduce both anxiety and depression, two things that can really ramp up during midterms and as daylight starts to dwindle.

6. Clean your apartment or do laundry

I have my favorite dancing cleaning playlist that makes chores into more of a dance party that anything else. I always feel less stressed when my laundry basket and sink aren’t overflowing. Plus, who doesn’t love falling into a bed with newly cleaned sheets at the end of a tough day?

7. Bake something

I absolutely love to bake, even though my go-to is a boxed mix. I get creative with chocolate chips, icing and new recipes. I always share with my friends, which they always appreciate (and I’m not stuck eating a whole batch by myself!).

8. Write a letter

I’ve found that one of my favorite things in college is getting a letter from my high school best friend. We decided to become pen pals in college, which was a great decision! I don’t have to worry about hurting her feelings by not having time to check in over text all the time, but I get to hear all about what’s going on in her life (and get something in my mailbox!).

9. Go outside

This is my favorite thing to do when I’m stressed. Bundle up with your favorite scarf and go outside. I like to walk in a park that’s close to my campus, but you can do anything. Bring a book and a blanket and sit in the sun. Grab coffee with a friend and sit on a bench. It will improve your focus and strengthen your immune system!

10. Dance

Turn on your favorite songs, close your bedroom door and go to town. Spin around in circles, break dance, try out your old ballet moves, wiggle your arms, literally anything. Get your body moving!

Okay, here are the toughies. This is what not to do what you’re crazy stressed, even though they’re pretty much the only things you do want to do.

Turn Off Netflix

It is way too easy to say that you’ll only watch one episode and then look up an entire season later. Trust me, I’ve been there. Plus, watching TV at night suppresses your melatonin levels, which makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep afterwards.

Avoid Naps

Most days, a nap makes me feel groggy and more tired than I was beforehand. Not helpful. Plus, a long nap can throw off your sleep schedule at night. Unless you know that you desperately need one, avoid at all costs! Treat yourself to a Starbucks and keep going!

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