Let’s talk midterms, stress and mental health


Torch Photo/ Brenden Willisch

Midterm season is upon us and a majority of students are facing it in yet again another semester of non traditional  learning. And the “catch up day,” “mental health day” or whatever the school ended up calling the single day we received in place of Spring Break this year, did not exactly help. Instead, students are still stressed about the increased amount of preparation and studying that accompanies midterm week, and their mental health is no better because of a single day off.

Homework has already increased with the transition to virtual learning — for some reason professors now think we have more time, if that makes any sense. With midterms upon us it’s as if the workload has tripled in size. And let’s talk a bit more about that one day off. The University thought taking a random Tuesday in the middle of the semester around when we would normally have Spring Break to “decompress” from the stress the semester has already placed on us as students would help our mental health. In reality, this day served as 24 hours that we all rushed to catch up on work we were behind in — that’s a pretty far cry from the time we normally get to take a second, breathe and enjoy a few days without any work to do in  the middle of the semester. Don’t get me wrong — in the past, I’ve spent time over Spring Break getting some work done, but there’s always a large chunk of time to relax.

Students really do need some time to dedicate to taking care of their mental health, especially in the aftermath of the increased stress that midterms place on us (and the fact that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic). My advice for this hectic and stressful midterm week would be to dedicate a little chunk of time every day to  yourself. I spend about 30 minutes each morning drinking tea and reading a book to decompress before the day begins — we all need some sort of escape from not only midterms, but  from trying to be a full-time student in the middle of a pandemic. 

 If you feel that your mental health is truly suffering this semester, seek out help. If you feel comfortable, speak to your professors about the issues you are having and ask for that extension on a paper or assignment. Bringing these issues to their attention may help them realize the stress students are truly under right now. But, of course, not all professors are considerate of their students — we’ve all been there with that professor that won’t give an extension on a paper even if you’ve been to hell and back. Your other option is to talk to someone, whether it be a therapist through the school (this is free!) or just to a family member or friend. Don’t keep everything bottled up because there’s no way it will help in the long run.

Between midterms, virtual learning and the pandemic, students are certainly struggling and their mental health is surely  taking a hit. I can attest to this. I always feel like I have something to get done to the point that even sitting for an hour to watch some TV makes me feel as if I’m wasting my time, and it just causes me to stress out even more than I already was. So, my best advice is to try to set aside some time for a mental break for yourself each day — even if it’s only 20 minutes — and talk to someone if the stress gets too overwhelming. Even if we’re not allotted a break, it’s natural to need one.