7 SJSU students share how they’re surviving mid-semester stress

It’s the middle of the semester, and life generally gets pretty crazy around this time of the year for students. It’s easy to get burnt out.

Last week the Social Media Department discussed how they’re coping with the stress of school, midterms, work, extracurriculars, their social lives and just general responsibilities. They wrote down their stories and recommendations for others that may be struggling.

The most prominently recurring theme was the importance of mental health. If this semester has been tough on you, remember to be kind to yourself, and that you are NOT alone. This post is here to inspire you and to demonstrate that, indeed, we are all in this together. You can and will succeed.

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Get some sleep at night

Make sure you’re getting sleep

I prevent myself from going insane in the middle of the semester by trying to prioritize the things that are most important before all other things going on in my life. I used to always prioritize school, and although that is VERY important, mental health is as well.

I usually get myself all worked up and stress myself out due to all the responsibilities that I have, that I sometimes forget how important it is to make sure I am mentally healthy as well as physically. I try to utilize yoga or pilates as a way to calm myself down, as well as help me build strength both physically and mentally. I typically try to stay up late to get all of my work done, but if I have had a really tough and long day, (this sounds terrible) I will choose sleep over other responsibilities.

I have a really poor immune system and get sick very easily. Over the summer I found out that I actually have chronic sinus infections, and honestly had no idea, but had to be on antibiotics for a whole month and if it doesn’t get better, will need surgery. Being sick all the time really takes a toll on my schoolwork as well as doing anything in general.

I recommend other students try and remember how important it is to be mentally healthy, and to sometimes be selfish. Although it is very vital for us to do well in school and try really hard to get phenomenal grades, if we push ourselves TOO MUCH, we will suffer in other ways. Also, do not be afraid to get help if you need it whether it is with a class, or your mental health; use the tools SJSU gives us. Do not be embarrassed to have a tutor or a counselor; it is nothing to be embarrassed of and will only help you in the end.  -Emily Dunn


“Work smarter, not harder.”

I can remember Mac Miller saying these words of advice in an interview with The Internet on their Beats 1 radio show.

I’ve heard plenty of people say the phrase before, but I think it really stuck with me after hearing the news that he overdosed at 26 years old just last month. For me and for many of us who keep up with music culture, Mac Miller’s death was definitely a wake up call as we transitioned into the school year. We watched him evolve along his journey; we grew up with him and it always felt like he was a part of our own. Listening to his new album Swimming after he passed felt like the only way to grieve, but it also allowed me to celebrate the life that he lived and reflect on the album’s focus on self care and personal rehabilitation.

It’s now my second year at SJSU and I think I can say that I’m having a better fall semester than I did last year. I’m trying to work smarter and not harder to the point where I’m sacrificing my sanity. I’ve been trying to learn from my mistakes and bad habits by simply taking the lessons I’ve learned to heart and taking action instead of beating myself up about the past.

I take care of my mind and body by waking up early enough to eat breakfast and writing down my goals in a planner. Throughout the day I like to sit outside and get some fresh air. In between classes I’ll find a nice spot and open up a book, draw, listen to music or watch videos. These things keep my mind stimulated while I’m relaxing. Whenever I’m stressed I know that these are healthy outlets for expressing myself and understanding emotions on another level. It is so important that we take the time to evaluate how we are feeling physically, mentally and emotionally on a daily basis. Find something to channel all that stress out and don’t be afraid to talk to someone about how you are truly feeling.

Make sure to check up on your friends and loved ones because they are going through their own struggles too. We all live unique lives that come with different challenges, but the beauty of the human experience is that we all have these different perspectives and can offer each other some form of guidance. Life is too short to sweat over the small stuff. You got this g! -Jasmine Dator

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Get some fresh air… These beauties were photographed on campus


To be honest, I am struggling very hard to keep up with studying and time management during the time on my midterms as well. But the one thing that has helped so much during these rough times are doing work little by little everyday. Make sure you understand the question and know how long you should spend on essays or assignments.

I would make sure that I would start getting my homework done first at the right schedule and focus on my free time later. But there are days when I put it off and procrastinate until the day before the assignment is due. And that’s usually most of the days…(sigh). Prioritize your work in order to play hard later. Also try to have a positive attitude throughout the rough days and talk to your friends about supporting each other in their studies. Going through your studies alone may be more difficult than having friends around you to push each other.

Just know that academics aren’t the highlight of your college career. Your life experience, priorities and mental health are more important than the assignments given to you on a daily basis. -Woojae Kim


We’re all in this together

I prevent myself from going insane in the middle of the semester by managing my effort across my classes and prioritizing sleep above all else.

There is no way to get all the work done for all your classes, so what I do is put a hard deadline on myself every night. When I start my homework I usually look at how much I have to do, what time it is, and what time I have obligations the following day, then set a deadline for myself to shut it down and go to sleep. If you do not get adequate sleep then the rest of your priorities are wasted anyways, so going through your week fully-rested is paramount.

Along with sleep, you have to give yourself time to do something other than school and work. Personally, I like to go home to Santa Cruz and spend time with my family and dogs. But mostly I go home for the dogs. You have to set aside ‘me time’ or the grind and monotony of school and work will wear you down.

It is also important to realize that you are only one person. You cannot please everyone, and cannot do everything you want to do. All of us are paying to be in school so that should take priority, but mental health is always the most important aspect of keeping your wits about you.

Possibly most importantly, ask for help! Use a tutor, ask classmates for help, rely on friends or family for support. If you are anything like me, there is a lot on your plate. I am not a fool, I know that there are dozens of people who help me achieve my goals. In the words of Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez, we are all in this together, so make sure to use the resources around you to the best of your ability. -Chad Oklin-Jolin

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Reach out to the people around you

Read, exercise and talk

Midterms–an eight letter word that strikes fear during college. They cause our hearts to pound inside our chests like a sledgehammer beating against hot steel, our minds go into extra gear, and we drink coffee like there’s no tomorrow so we either have a few more minutes studying our class material or making a few last minute touches on a project. 

For everyone, there are several different ways to help de-stress ourselves as we struggle to keep up with our workload. One way that helps me de-stress is reading. I have classes from Monday to Thursday, with one midterm after the next. To help combat the stress of either studying for a midterm or completing a project on time, I take a 15 minute break reading something that I enjoy for every hour that I work on my project. It helps me relax my mind and it sharpens it for the next task ahead.

Another way to de-stress is to do some exercise–just before I go to bed I go to the gym for 30-40 minutes and it helps me relax before I go to sleep. Anyone can do it and it doesn’t have to be something hard–a simple jog on the treadmill, lifting a few weights or even playing some basketball with a few students.

The final thing that helps me relax is just talking to a few friends. Whether in person, on the phone, or on Facebook, talking to a friend helps me relax a bit and gives me a chance to release a bit of steam. You’d be surprised what talking will do for one’s mental health and it can help make a stressful midterm preparation seem easier. Ultimately, my advice for students is, if you are stressing out about midterms, find an activity that helps you relax and fit it in your study schedules. School work is important but so is our health, both physical or mental. -Aaron J. Rodgers

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Get some exercise doing something fun

Your mental health matters

I allow myself at least one day out of the week to have some me time to reflect and unwind from the workload life has been throwing at me.

During the weekdays, working full time and as a part time student, it does get hard balancing a social life, studying and getting a decent amount of sleep. What I tell myself to get through the week is to finish all my assignments, tasks and errands so I don’t have to worry later and I can enjoy my weekend. Easier said than done, I know, so recently I started giving myself goals on what needs to be finished on a certain day so I could finish them by Friday evening at the latest.

During my leisure I make the effort to go out and make the day count by waking up early to hit the gym for about an hour or two, reading a book, getting grub while catching up with loved ones and as a typical millennial on social media.

Being someone who has dealt and is still dealing with mental illness such as depression and anxiety, it does interfere with studying so I found a vice through the gym, music and simply talking to loved ones on what’s on my mind which helps cope with it at times.

Even though we all have priorities, self care and mental health should be as important as our physical well being. That is why I check on my loved ones by shooting them a text every so often to see how they are, and sometimes I’ll even ask strangers such as waiters who are serving me at the restaurants because feelings are ignored when we are occupied.

We’re only human and we tend to get overwhelmed but deal with it in order to get through our busy schedules. My only advice on keeping yourself from going insane in the middle of the semester is to prioritize yourself and your mental health by allowing yourself free time on things that make you happy.  -Philip Laquian


Take a break

It definitely can get very stressful and busy during the middle of the semester. Midterms with a million pages and powerpoint slides to study from, projects that you still haven’t started, written essays due at 11:59 p.m. and presentations with social anxiety. Not to mention working part time and having to find an internship or career job.

Every student has different methods of coping with their difficult college life, but I’ll share mine. I think it’s important to take breaks, so I take about a 20 minute break for every 2 hours of work. During this time, I would usually watch one episode of an anime show that I like, or I would play a quick video game match in the multiplayer game Overwatch. For online video games, I find it best to turn off the microphone and other communications when playing online because people online can be mean and dehumanizing, and such terrible behavior from others can make your stress much worse.

Another coping method I have is buying a ball, such as a cheap bouncy ball or foam ball that you can get at the dollar store. You can play with a bouncy ball like you did when you were a young child, bouncing it around and off the walls in your room. Honestly any activity that can make you temporarily forget about your issues and responsibilities, even for a little while, is great because it will let your mind relax. -Johnny Nguyen


Looking for some music to help you relax and/or have some fun? Look no further than your student-run radio station, KSJS! Stream here

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