5 Ways to Manage Stress During Midterms

By 
Leah Driscoll, Director of Health and Wellness Programs
October 29, 2019

During midterm season, it’s important to take time for self-care, avoid procrastination, and reach out to friends and loved ones for support. 

Image by Adam Ridhwan

We all know it: midterms can be stressful. But they don't have to totally derail your mental state. The team in the Office of Student Wellness Promotion and Services offers a few tips for managing your stress during midterms, so you can ace them.  

1. Avoid procrastination.

We all find ourselves putting off today what we could do tomorrow (or the next day...or over the weekend...or on Monday morning). While procrastination may feel good in the moment, it can snowball into a stress ball. 

Procrastination has many causes: feeling daunted by the task or tasks ahead, fear of failure, wanting the end product to be perfect, being afraid of negative feedback, or feeling mentally or physically exhausted. Another common cause of procrastination, particularly among musicians, dancers, and actors, is “creativity fatigue.” 

"It's important to find space to rest your mind and do something that brings you peace and joy."

Recognizing why you are procrastinating is an important first step, and step two is coming up with strategies to address the cause of your procrastination. Feeling overwhelmed by your assignments? Try breaking them down into smaller chunks. Juggling multiple deadlines? Make a schedule for the week and assign a specific day to each project.

2. Breathe, sleep, eat, move, repeat.

Those may sound like simple directions, but when we’re under pressure, we often forget to prioritize basic healthy activities. A good night’s rest improves cognitive functioning, stimulates muscle recovery, boosts your immune system, and positively impacts mood. Exercise can help manage stress hormones and make it easier to fall asleep at night—just make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime. Make sure you are eating food and drinking fluids that fuel, nourish, and sustain you. And lastly, don’t forget to breathe. In stressful moments, a few long, deep breaths can be all we need to refocus and relax. 

3. Embrace saying 'no.'

The College and Conservatory offer a never-ending stream of exciting events and activities, not to mention outside professional opportunities that can pop up. However, sometimes we need to focus our internal resources and time on our coursework and wellbeing.That might mean saying no: to a last-minute recording session or audition, an energy drink at midnight, or a night out with friends. Setting boundaries will help you gain a greater sense of control over your time and wellbeing, which can have a profound impact on your stress level.

4. Find your happy place.

Some people meditate or do yoga. Some people write or journal. Some people talk with friends. Some people watch cat videos on YouTube. It's important to find space—mental or physical, literal or figurative—to rest your mind and do something that brings you peace and joy. Try getting off campus or retreating into your own space to take a break from the swirl of stress. 

5. Connect with your peers and loved ones.

The most important thing to remember when managing midterm stress is: you are not alone. We all experience busy, overwhelming times in our lives. Stress, when well-managed, can help motivate us into action. However, sometimes we need the help of others to manage it. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a friend, family member, roommate, RA, supervisor, teacher, or staff member. You can also call Berklee Counseling Services to make an appointment or talk to the counselor on call.  

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