This month, there a few holidays and/or events to look forward to, including March Madness and Saint Patrick’s Day. However, another upcoming event causes great stress and anxiety in a student’s life around this time of the semester. I am, of course, talking about midterms. Midterms, and test-taking in general, are an issue among many students, including this writer. In fact, according to an October 2020 survey published by the American Psychological Association, 87% of Gen Z adults reported their education as being a significant stressor. Furthermore, nearly 1 in 5 adults had reported their mental health as worsened than that of 2019. But that doesn’t mean nothing can be done to help cope with the stress and anxiety related to both the pandemic and our upcoming exams. Taking a test, whether in person or online, is naturally stressful, and to help alleviate some of that, I’ve gathered some common strategies to use.
Listen to music - While not the same for everyone, this activity can help students focus and stay in a positive mindset. In fact, it’s fairly common for background noise to help some people relax.
Meditate - You don’t have to do it for a long amount of time and it’s not a big deal if you can’t focus for more than a few minutes. Even just taking a few deep breaths is enough to alleviate anxiety and stress. A book I’d highly recommend is Stop Missing Your Life by Cory Muscara. Part memoir, part self-help book, this helps newcomers to meditation understand its benefits and how to get started.
Cuddle - Try cuddling with a pet, baby, or partner. Just to be clear, I’m not advocating for finding a random baby or pet and hugging them. Please cuddle your own pets and family (and only with their consent). Believe it or not, cuddling has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress. It is so beneficial that cuddle therapy has become a pretty popular business across the US. If you live alone like me, don’t be ashamed to cuddle a pillow.
Invest in a dry erase board - These are relatively cheap and easy to hang up in your home. On a weekly basis, write your upcoming assignments, tests, and study hours. This helps you remember and seeing it can help you focus on what’s next to work on.
Create a to-do list - The act of checking off each item creates a feeling of accomplishment and this tends to ease tension.
I could go on forever with tips for reducing stress, but time management is another stressor for students as well, especially now. If you have a pretty full plate, like working students tend to have, you may find yourself worried about meeting all of your deadlines. Read on to find more tips for beating the stress of midterms and finding balance in your life!
Remember, midterms don’t have to make or break you. There are tons of resources available for those in need of help with understanding material and study habits. Make a plan to meet with a few students over Zoom or FaceTime and study together. When you are taking your exams, try to remember this quote from the brilliant Albert Einstein, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”
Boyes, Alice. “50 Strategies to Beat Anxiety.” Psychology Today, Sussex
Publishers, 3 Mar. 2015,
Stress in America 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis.” American
Psychological Association, 2020, doi:10.1037/e509532020-001.