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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily Gouin April 19, 2024

Opinion – Managing mid-semester stress

Harry Stine/NW
RELAX – My living room, which doubles as my office, where I often retreat to nap on my couch between assignments. Keeping track of your own stress levels is important as the semester reaches it’s most work heavy months.

Ah, midterms. I remember my first midterm, in PSY 100, which made me so anxious that I started studying for it two weeks in advance, a practice I still do to this day. I repeatedly looked over the study guide, spending an hour a day memorizing as many facts as my brain could take. I studied so hard, and when the exam finally came, I did quite well. I rewarded myself with fries from Fieras afterwards.

But here’s the catch. In the weeks following the exam, I barely relaxed. If anything, my stress levels rose. That’s because the work didn’t slow down, it sped up. Papers, quizzes, new projects due every two weeks, and all on top of that, a constant stream of homework.

That’s when I learned an important lesson. The middle of the semester isn’t a wave to brace yourself for, followed by clean sailing until finals week. Rather, midterms are a massive blow to the chest, followed by a punishing beatdown of assignment after assignment, as everything increases in difficulty and you get pushed to the point of exhaustion.

Or maybe it just feels that way. It gets hard to keep yourself motivated once you reach the halfway point of the semester. Classes start to feel longer, work gets harder as finals start to peek over the horizon, and those deadlines for final projects start to hang like an albatross around your neck. All while you get more and more tired.

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Managing mid-semester stress is important. Think of it less as self-care, and more as survivability. You need to catch your breath, or you will become fatigued. This semester, I started using a calendar to plan my weeks out in advance. It made much better sense of my schedule and helped me find free time that I didn’t know I had. I suggest you do the same, especially if you’re a freshman in your first semester.

You may ask, what should I do with that free time? Assuming you’ve already panicked and given yourself time to study, as you should, then you’re going to start getting selfish. Don’t just do what makes you happy, do what you need. Last semester, while managing my deadlines, creating a website for class and editing video footage, I once dropped everything I was doing and played Elden Ring for two hours in the middle of the day. Why? Because I needed to think about anything other than work for a moment, and this was the easiest way I knew how.

You’re going to hear advice from other people about managing mid-semester stress, and do what works for you, but I think treating what calms you down as something you need to do is the core idea. I’ve been a jogger for eight years, sometimes a run by the lake does it for me. For some people it’s watching their favorite show or going thrifting. Whatever it is, just do it.

Of course, this is all with the assumption that you’re studying and staying on top of work. Definitely do that. But sometimes, we need to tell ourselves that we’re doing our best, and to take a breather before we go haywire.

So as the semester reaches midterms, and continues to increase in pressure, remember to pull yourself down to earth every now and then. You’re working hard, you’re doing your best, and you are okay. Now try to forget about that assignment for a couple minutes, you’ll feel better. I promise.

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About the Contributor
Harry Stine
Harry Stine, Opinion Editor
In 2021, after one year of college and a semester of studying as a Public Relations major, I realized I wanted to be a journalist and not much else. After eagerly applying to be a Copy Editor, without even knowing AP style at that point, I started doing the occasional contributing writer piece for The North Wind. My frequent topic was satire. When I heard The North Wind was going through another round of hires, and a spot was open for an Assistant Features Editor, I applied in a heartbeat. I still do the occasional satire piece, but I take great pride in exploring NMU and Marquette for my topics, and finally having my head wrapped around AP style.