How to Cope with Midterm Anxiety
Experiencing some stress can actually be useful when studying for your midterms: it can motivate you, keep you focused, and ultimately lead to better results. When stress turns into anxiety, though, the opposite is true. Midterm anxiety can disrupt your sleep, cause unhealthy eating habits, and push you to use stimulants like coffee and alcohol to cope. The good news is there are ways to deal with anxiety to ensure you succeed with your midterms and maintain good mental and physical health.
Understand the Reasons for Your Anxiety
Before you do anything else, it’s useful to acknowledge what is the underlying cause of your anxiety. It may simply be normal for you to feel anxious in such situations, especially if you’re a high achiever or it’s important to you to do exceptionally well. In other cases, anxiety may stem from concerns that you are unprepared for your exams, such as if you received a low grade in a previous midterm.
Start Preparing Early
Whatever the reasons for your anxiety, it will help if you feel more prepared for your midterms. Start studying several weeks before your exams and stick to a schedule to progress methodically through the material. Keep in mind that, as long as you’ve been attending all your classes and have read all the course materials, you won’t be learning anything new — you’ll just be refreshing your memory. This should make studying feel less intimidating.
Use Various Study Approaches
Whenever you feel that you’re unable to absorb the information, switch to a different approach. Transform your notes into mind maps or rewrite them to contain just the key points. Consider what questions you may face in the exams and outline how you would answer them. Study with a group of other students or work with a tutor.
Take Regular Breaks
It’s impossible to study effectively for long periods of time without breaks — you’ll only end up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Figure out how long you can stay focused and take a short break after this amount of time. Make sure you also have a break between your last study session and before you go to bed to give yourself the chance to unwind. You may also like to have one day a week when you don’t study at all to give your mind a longer rest.
Learn Relaxation Techniques
Any time you feel particularly anxious (perhaps when you’re studying concepts that are especially difficult or when your midterms are fast approaching), use relaxation techniques. Breathing exercises, simple stretches, or even a short workout can all be helpful. Training yourself to relax will also be invaluable if you suffer from anxiety during your midterms to stop your mind from going blank.
Often, when you feel better physically, you feel better mentally as well. Eat a balanced diet consisting of healthy meals with small snacks in between. Carbohydrates like bread and cereal are particularly useful if your anxiety is making you feel nauseous. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Most importantly, avoid too much sugar, as it can make you feel even more burned out when the energy boost wears off.
Know the Details for Each Midterm
Be clear about when and where each midterm is taking place to ensure you arrive on time and to the right location. Know what you’ll need to bring with you (such as pens, a calculator, and your student ID) and have everything ready in advance.
It’s common for feelings of midterm anxiety to be amplified if you lack your own personal space or if you struggle to study due to constant distractions. One solution to consider is moving into McMaster off-campus housing. At West Village Suites, you’ll have your own room in a fully-furnished apartment. We also have dedicated study spaces on site, plus a yoga studio and fitness facilities for when you need to destress. Take a virtual tour to see all the amenities.