Editorial — Mental health matters more than midterm exams


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Call 1-855-384-1800 to talk with licensed mental health professionals outside normal NMU Counseling Center hours. This new service for students is free, and open on weekends.

If the potential for several inches of snowfall did not excite you enough this week, how does midterm exams coupled with the cold weather sound?

Jokes aside, we have reached the halfway point of the fall semester here at NMU, which means that many students have or will soon be taking the dreaded midterm exams. Considering that students have not been given a mid-semester break, which most universities afford their students, and will not see any form of relief until Thanksgiving break, we implore you to prioritize your mental health during this examination period. 

According to Jim Haveman’s campus mental health assessment of NMU, the number of people experiencing mental health problems, like anxiety, depression and loneliness, has been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While anxiety is certain to accompany any form of test taking, with the nerves sometimes proving themselves to be beneficial to the process, there are several ways to manage your stress levels and prevent yourself from spiraling out of control.

To start, ensure that you have set aside enough time to study. While the specific length of study time varies by person, it is important to outline your day so you can stay on track. This could be done through a planner, leaving sticky notes for yourself or even setting a timer on your phone. Subtle reminders to get things done will allow you to succeed. 

The worst thing you could do is try to cram all of your studying in during the few hours before exam time. This will not only cause you more stress but is proven to be an inefficient method of academic retention. 

To avoid cramming, employ a study method that rewards progress. Tell yourself that you will read for 20-30 minutes, then take a 10-minute social media break. Once you have finished studying for a certain class, relax by visiting with friends or going out to lunch. It is important to acknowledge and celebrate small victories throughout the studying process. 

Also, try to separate your home life from your school life. You can do this by studying at local coffee shops or in one of the many halls on campus — which each have its own nooks and crannies that make for great study spots. Our living spaces should be reserved for relaxation.

Outside of studying tactics, ensure that you have a strong support system in place before tackling midterms. Whether it be reaching out to friends, family or even professors with concerns regarding exams, knowing that you have someone in your corner can provide you with comfort and stability during this stressful time. 

Just as important as your mental health, be sure to take care of your physical self as well. Staying up until 3 a.m. studying is not going to benefit you the next day, especially if you are running on several cups of coffee and have little sleep. 

The CDC recommends seven or more hours of sleep every night for people our age. By getting enough sleep, you are ensuring that your body is well-rested and able to maintain healthy brain activity. Also, eat at least two meals a day. Your body needs that energy to crush your midterm exams. 

Lastly, going outside is a great way to help yourself unwind. Breathing in the fresh air can act as a reset for some, so take a short walk to re-center your thoughts and increase blood flow. You are doing yourself no good by retiring to your desk and staring at readings, notes and study guides all day. 

We all need to touch grass — or snow — every once in a while.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This is an editorial, written by the North Wind Editorial Board in its entirety. It reflects the majority views of the individuals who make up the editorial staff of the North WindIt is the policy of the Editorial Board not to endorse candidates for any political office, in order to avoid aligning this public forum with particular political organizations.