The ‘Midterm Slump’: How to get through the hardest time of the year

(Graphic by Grace Needham | Collegian Media Group)

The weather is changing, planners are overflowing, days are getting shorter and frankly, everything is starting to feel like a mess. The midterm to winter break stretch is notoriously known as the hardest time for college students. While it’s easy to simply survive this next month and a half, here are some tips to help you thrive instead.

Prioritize movement

While exercise is usually the first thing to get put on the back burner when life gets busy, it truly makes a world of difference in mental health and mood. A study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Mental Health found that running for just 15 minutes a day reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. 

Even if running isn’t your thing, exercise in general is shown to have significant health benefits. A benefit of the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex is their weekly exercise classes. Joining a class is a great way to add some movement to your routine and connect with other students. The classes range from HIT workouts to yoga classes, so there is something for everyone. These resources are at your fingertips and are a convenient way to boost your physical and mental well-being.

Don’t give in to FOMO

FOMO is short for the fear of missing out. I have had to choose between staying in to rest or going out with friends many times throughout college. I promise—this is not the last time your friends will get ice cream or make a sonic run in your college career.

It’s important to get a break from school, but there is also nothing wrong with saying no to plans and using that break for alone time. Doing nothing is doing something! One of the worst ways to enter a burnout cycle is not allowing yourself time to recuperate. Stay in, have a good snack, and get a full eight hours of sleep. Aggieville will still be there next week! The more you push yourself, the more likely you are to get sick as finals week looms. The last thing you want is to miss out on important classes because you packed your schedule too full.

Use external motivation 

One of the easiest ways to motivate yourself is by setting goals and rewarding yourself for them. I always struggle with completing my reading for classes. While I know I could easily skip out, I also know it would help my grade if I do the readings. So, I spread them out throughout the week to make it a little easier to digest. I I do all my readings for the week, I allow myself to have some ice cream. If I don’t finish, no ice cream. 

It’s hard to have enough discipline with yourself, but it truly helps to have something to look forward to while working hard. As the second half of classes start, it’s super important to set up a schedule for success. The more work you spread out now, the less stress during dead week. Adding in a little reward is the easiest way to accomplish tasks regularly.

Know your limits and be grateful for them

I was always an overachiever in high school. Coming to college, I expected myself to be under the same amount of stress as at home. But it’s easy to forget how many things are different when you’re off at school. You’re responsible for more, and a college schedule is much less predictable. The ability to accept that you can’t do as much as you did in high school is an essential lesson to learn. 

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is just because you can do everything doesn’t mean you should. If you’re not in that club, you won’t spontaneously combust. If you’re not top of your department, you aren’t a disappointment. Surviving another semester of college is an achievement in itself; treat it as such. The limits our body and brain put on us are there for a reason; be grateful for them! Each week, I like to take time to write down all I have accomplished. Seeing it on paper always helps to keep me grounded and remind me I am not behind or less than anyone else. This is one of the best ways to keep me from spiraling about my need for success!