During these stressful times, sit back and relax

By Jennifer Smith
November 8, 2001

I think I’m losing my mind. If so, college is responsible for taking it. I try to be a good student. I have an average course load, spend a generally reasonable amount of time studying, sometimes more than necessary, sometimes less than I should. But for the most part, things are usually going well for me in the first few weeks of the semester. I party a little, sleep a little, work a little, trying to keep an even keel in my life. And then one day it happens .someone says the word midterm.

At first I shrug it off thinking midterm week must be a lifetime away. After all, I am just getting into the swing of things! I will pretend I didn’t hear it and continue about my day. Without question, at this point, things begin to fall apart.

After the word midterm, always comes exam. And then project, paper and/or quiz. So now by the end of your week you have at least eight new assignments all worth seven hundred percent of your grade and due in a matter of days. “When did this happen?” you start to think as you’re headed toward your car when you see you’ve received a ticket. What college student has money to drop on something like a parking ticket? Now you’re going to be stressed and broke. Great.

Your afternoon visit to the mailroom brings you a wad of bills and your registration packet for next semester with a note from your adviser encouraging a visit to their office, “ASAP.” Registration brings a headache all its own as you sit down at your desk to begin your homework.

By now, it’s obviously one of those days. “I’ll just do my homework and go to sleep,” you may think as you sit in your dorm room, apartment or house. “Internet Explorer, click-click,” and to your lack of surprise, the network is down once again. No homework for you.

By this point in your day it is a toss up whether you want to throw your computer out of the window or jump out of it yourself. As the tension begins to build up you can feel your fists clenching together in frustration, please don’t take either road toward destruction before stepping back to examine the big picture.

True. College is stressful. It’s also true that being halfway through the term you have a lot of academic concerns to face. However, neither are a good reason to commit harmful acts upon your computer or anything else within your reach for that matter. First, just breath.

Realize as a service to yourself that you are not alone. If you glance over at your roommate he or she might have a similar expression of helpless desperation on their face, and if not, you won’t have to look far to find one.

We are a generation of young adults with a hefty workload on our plates. We have jobs, classes, families, friends, boy or girlfriends and social lives all to maintain, and are expected to maintain them calmly, responsibly and without faltering.

Take a break for goodness sake. You are only one person and you only have two hands. Realize that you cannot type a paper, read a book, make your dinner, answer the phone, email your mom and schedule a meeting with your adviser all at once. Pace yourself or you will wind up frustrated and burnt out. There is no cause for adding to your stress load at this point in the semester.

Keep your cool at all times. If you walk around in your pajamas with the pen still behind your ear from last nights study session and a look of distress across your face, people will start to notice. Smile like you mean it when you see the teacher whose 17 page term paper is responsible for your disheveled appearance.

Don’t ever let them see you sweat. You are going to make it through college somehow, some way. It may be a stressful ride but I promise, if you take a second to sit back and enjoy it, it will also be the best time of your life. Pace, control, breathing and laughter are the keys to getting you through even the most stressful of times. So keep going and remember, you’re not in it alone!

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Jennifer Smith

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