Oct   2011



3 Tips for Conquering Midterm Stress in Grad School

Former Attorney; Graduate Student; Writer and Tutor, Grockit.com

They say that the first step in overcoming a problem is admitting that you HAVE a problem. So before you can deal with your midterm stress, you have to recognize it for what it is.

You might assume that you have some kind of long-lasting virus (fatigue, stomach trouble, heavy sweating) or that you've developed a neuromuscular disorder (headaches, a twitching eyelid). But it's just good old-fashioned stress (unless it's not; if symptoms persist, you should see an actual doctor). So how can you handle it while still juggling the responsibilities of projects, reports, and other obligations like family and work?

1. Delegate

Yes, you're in grad school, so money is probably tight. But sometimes it's worth spending a little cash to get some peace of mind. So instead of trying to handle school AND the demands of daily life (I.e., keeping yourself and possibly others clean, fed, and clothed), outsource some of those chores!

If you have kids, a couple hours of peace to study or relax might make the money you have to pay a sitter the best $20 or $30 you've ever spent. Order takeout and drop off your laundry for someone else to do. All of these things require some expenditures, but consider them an investment in your sanity.

2. Look out for #1

Sometimes, what you really need to do is take a nap, go for a run, or sit quietly in a room staring at a blank wall. Even though midterms can be hectic, don't be afraid to be a little bit greedy with your time, and allocate a chunk of it to maintaining your own mental health. Flight attendants have it right: you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others.

3. Don't be afraid to look for support.

Sometimes, self-care isn't enough, and there is absolutely no shame in that. Know what resources your school makes available to grad students and take advantage of them; they might include stress-management seminars, individual counseling, or other options. These services are there to help. Let them.

What's your favorite way to handle midterm stress? Talk about it in the comments!

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About Andrea Alexander

Andrea Alexander

Andrea Alexander is a former attorney and a current graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Information, where she is studying library and information services and information policy. She has also been teaching, tutoring, and writing content for standardized test preparation for almost ten years, most recently for the online test prep company Grockit, which focuses on making standardized test preparation affordable and accessible for students around the world. At Grockit, we’re all about education and getting you ready to move on to the next stage in your life. But we’re not just teachers; we’re all former and/or current students, too, and we’ve got more than just test preparation tips to share with you!