Hello my Bright and Happy peeps! No? Okay, sorry, I won't do that again. Let's just move on. Today is all about how to balance keeping up with your health and fitness and making sure that you're prepared for midterms (can also be applied to finals). I am just wrapping up my last midterm season for life and I want to share what I've learned from all of it.
Also, disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, health physician, or nutrition specialist. Please consult professional help if you have any serious issues. This is a recount of my experiences dealing with tests. Do not take this as health advice.
Just the thought of midterms still brings a bubble of panic straight to my chest. I have actually had a few panic attacks over the thought of midterms and finals. Let's just say that tests and I, we aren't too buddy-buddy.
Midterms can cause anybody a severe moment of panic. It's best to really focus on making sure that you don't cause yourself to get seriously sick or wear yourself out too much. Personally, I am in a quarter system so midterms actually start fairly quickly after the quarter starts. I've had midterms as early as the second week of school.
Listen very carefully to me: failing one midterm is not going to ruin your life and is not going to end your college career. If you are truly worried about the midterm, talk to your professor, go to office hours, talk to your teaching assistant, and for goodness sake's, GO TO CLASS. You may even benefit from forming a study group with some class mates and having a discussion about the material.
Health + Fitness
Being healthy and staying fit is hard; even before throwing into the mix the amount of homework (a.k.a. reading), class time, and studying that is required per class, it is hard to commit to. I think it is super important to work out regularly and eat food that doesn't come in a box or wrapper every once in awhile. However, I promised that I was going to be honest with you about my experience and I swear I am.
When it came to be midterm season, I completely stopped working out. It was bad because I wasn't consistent with working out in the first place, but I used midterms as the perfect excuse to not work out. I think I made it through one quarter where I worked out and stayed relatively healthy during midterms.
My eating habits went from horrible to horrendous. I would buy Burger King (mostly because they were the only place open late) and get a huge ice cream sundae almost every time I went. I actually had college food that was pretty decent, but I ended up going to the markets to grab bags full of chips, soda, ice cream, and candy. I remember not eating a full meal for a couple of days during one final season. I just snacked on junk food and soda.
I would stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning and then wake up around 7 or 8 and start studying again. I think I maybe was able to actually pull off a total of 4 all nighters in my college career. I could never go a night without any amount of sleep, but there were times where I would wander around campus with 2-3 hours at the most.
We are all striving to maintain balance in our lives. It can be so difficult to achieve, but practice makes it easier to obtain. While I never was able to put these practices into full effect (mostly because I didn't realize that these techniques are actually helpful and doable until a couple of weeks ago), I do hope that you at least try a few of them. Everyone has their own midterm (and final) routine and while it's best not to mess with something that works, you never know if something will make it easier.
- Meal Prep your food for the week: there are so many posts and videos and trainings on how to prepare meals for yourself out there that I won't spend a lot of time explaining this, but I did want to say this: it is possible to meal prep when you live on campus. I know that the college food isn't that great, but many colleges have community refrigerators and if not, I'm sure you know a friend who has a mini fridge that you can store some stuff in it. Just take a look at the menu the dining hall posts (hint: check your college website!), buy your food in larger portions (make sure to split it in half so you can take the other half home), and you have a plan for what food you want (this way you aren't standing in the middle of your dining hall trying to figure out what you want to eat).
- Make a List: midterms are all about what you remember for which class. Make a list of your midterms, what is going to be on all of them, and what materials you will need to actually start studying for it. Do you have a ton of readings online? See if you can print them off so that you can have them handy and won't be distracted by the internet. Is there a workbook that you need? Keep it and anything else you may need - like those readings - in separate stacks so that you can tackle one class at a time.
- Prioritize: If you have a midterm Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, you don't want to be studying for the midterm that's on Friday on Monday, do you? You want to use your weekend to study for that Monday midterm, go over anything difficult or extremely time consuming for your Tuesday midterm, and make sure that you're prepped and ready to start studying for your Friday midterm as soon as Tuesday is over. If you have a midterm and an essay due Monday, can you write the essay first and then study for the midterm? Do you have a harder time writing? Can you study for the midterm and then write the essay? You really need to make sure that you are using your time to the best of your ability.
- Plan a Reward: After a long week of midterms, the last thing you want to do is something responsible. At least that's the way I always feel. I always make sure that I have a small type of reward when I'm finished. Even if it is as small as binge watching a TV show I've been saving or rewatching Harry Potter for the 97th time this year (don't judge), I make sure that I use that as my motivation to actually study and do well on the test. Try not to use food as a reward. I did this many times and while I always enjoyed stuffing my face (let's be honest, who doesn't?) I would always feel bloated and sick after I was done. Plus, you're not a dog.
- Relax: At the end of the day, no matter what happens, you are still a college student with a place to live and friends and family who love you. Like I said, one test is not going to make or break you or your college career. I know it may seem like the end of the world, but trust me, you won't remember that midterm when you reflect back on your college years. You will, however, remember those extra 15-20 pounds that you added and were never able to quite get rid of.