Explore new tools to relax while studying for midterms.

4 Ways To De-Stress Before Midterms

Discover effective tools to support your health and wellness while studying for exams.

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When we are weighed down by the stress of studying and exams, the last thing we might be thinking of is taking a break. Mounting pressures can feel paralyzing and make an already difficult and stressful week, even less manageable.

Taking an intentional break can make your studying more efficient and effective. When you allow yourself to relax, you increase your ability to self-regulate and manage stress in a healthy way, which makes spending large amounts of time studying and paper-writing much more sustainable and productive.

It's important to explore different resources for self-care that work for you, and bring enough self-awareness so you know when it's time to take a break before you burn-out. Remember to meet yourself with compassion during this time, and remind yourself that you are doing your best and it is more than okay to ask for help when you need it!

1. Spend time in nature

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Unplug from the stress of studying by walking around your neighborhood, going to the beach, or exploring a trail like Griffith Park or Temescal Canyon. The benefits of taking walks outdoors include a decrease in anxiety, an increasing ability to concentrate, receiving necessary Vitamin D, and more. Plus, if you've been hunched over at your desk all day, walking is great for your circulation and gives you a chance to stretch your body.

2. Rest more deeply

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The reality of midterms week might be that you aren't getting an ideal 8 hours of sleep, but there are tools you can use to rest more deeply in the limited time you might have.

Using a weighted blanket has benefits for individuals with ADHD, anxiety, stress, and more. Additionally, you can wear a sleep mask to block out extra light and earplugs to block out any noise.

If guided meditations are your thing, yoga nidra ("yogic sleep") can be key to relaxing deeply. Yoga nidra meditations slowly bring awareness to all parts of your body (each finger, each toe, etc.). While listening to yoga nidra is not a replacement for sleep, it is said that every 30 minutes of yoga nidra brings the effects of approximately two hours of sleep. There are endless options for yoga nidra videos on YouTube - give a few a try and see if any of them resonate with you.

3. Refresh with essential oils

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You can use essential oils by diffusing them in your room, putting a couple of drops on a cotton pad and inhaling deeply, or applying them directly to your skin with a carrier oil like coconut oil. You can apply them to the soles of your feet before bed or on your palms/wrists before studying. Essential oils can wake us up, calm us down, and everything in between. Energizing and uplifting oils to use before studying include peppermint, rosemary, and citrus oils like tangerine or lemon. Relaxing oils to use before bed include lavender, vetiver, and frankincense.

4. Journal without judgment 

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Writing during a study break, especially if you've been working on papers all day, might seem counter-intuitive. However, free-writing for even five or 10 minutes can relieve stress by putting pen to paper and getting out everything and anything on your mind. It is a writing exercise that doesn't need to be structured in any specific way, and won't be graded. Writing all of your anxieties and worries down can not only help you notice just how much you are carrying, but it can help take the power away from whatever is weighing you down. I highly encourage also doing this before bed if you find yourself with racing thoughts at the end of the night. It is a simple, yet impactful, exercise that can leave you feeling more prepared to tackle the rest of your week.

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From The Girl Who's In Shape But Not Perfect

Embrace the treadmill. But also embrace pizza.
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So, here's the thing:

I'm a girl who is in shape, but hey, I'm still human. Let me explain...

I can run a 5K.

But I still get completely winded going up the stairs.

I go to the gym most days of the week.

But, I have a lot of days where I just don't move from my bed.

I try to eat healthy as often as I can.

But sometimes, a whole pizza with everything on it is the only thing that hits the spot.

I have muscles that I'm proud to show off.

But I also have rolls when I sit, which I am also proud to show off.

I'm also proud to admit that:

Chocolate is still my stress reliever.

Some days I can't get myself to go to the gym.

Sometimes I eat a bag of Doritos after my workout.

I have days where any remote form of physical activity sounds like hell.

Food is my best friend.

So yes, I'm in shape. But I'm absolutely not the "perfect" in-shape girl.

I'm proud of my body and everything that it can do, and I treat it in the best way that I can. I stay in shape, I run, I exercise, and I eat things that are good for me. However, I'm also a girl who loves herself a burger and fries, who spends a whole day in bed, who has fat on her body and lives a normal life. I have school, work, homework, a social life - my health is absolutely one of my top priorities, but I'm not worrying about how I didn't go to the gym this day or how I ate four cookies that day. As long as I can look at myself and know that I'm treating my body well and I'm happy with myself, I'm good with it.

Your health should be important to you, but your emotional and mental well-being should be important, too. And sometimes, instead of the usual day in the gym, a day in bed is what you need.

Embrace your rolls. Embrace your muscles. Embrace that pizza. Embrace a fruit salad. Embrace your bed. Embrace the treadmill.

You're all good, girl.

Cover Image Credit: Marion Michele

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Take The Time To Pronounce Names Correctly, They Mean A Lot

What's in a name? Plenty.

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Names are often one of the first labels we get. It often makes us who we are and is deeply embedded in our sense of self. It's the word the world knows you as. Many people change their names to make them feel more like themselves. This speaks volumes to the effect a name has on you.

A name is a word like any other, just used to label someone. Like any other word, saying the word properly is important, especially because it is tied so closely to someone's sense of self.

Butchering someone's name consistently is simply unacceptable. Sure some names may be harder to pronounce and may seem unnatural but not trying is not okay. If you can get names like Stravinsky and Chmerkovskiy, a Nandini, Radhika, or Namrata shouldn't be too hard.

For some reason, it often seems like people have a hard time pronouncing names of people of color, which honestly seems a little odd to me considering many caucasian names are just as unconventional.

Comedian Hasan Minhaj recently appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and addressed this issue. He pointed out that no one has an issue with the name Ansel Elgort, but they seem to have an issue with his name. Later, he joked that he goes by the name Timothée Chalamet at Starbucks, which they can handle just fine.

Mistakes are okay. We're all human and you're not expected to get everything correct on the first try. But simply accepting that you can't say it and not making an effort is disrespectful.

You don't need to say the name in the accent of the culture it's from. Say it in your accent but like any other word, keep the same number of syllables and put an emphasis on the correct vowels. Eventually, getting it will expand your horizons just a little bit more. Either way, trying is better than not trying.

That being said, to the people that need to correct others' pronunciation on their name, do it. If you don't tell people how to pronounce it, you can't expect them to get it properly. Many of us introduce ourselves with a name that isn't truly ours; it's a version that accommodates others.

Remember though, there is no shame in your beautiful, unique name so there is no need to anglicize it. Your parents didn't give you that name for it to fit better in other people's mouths.

Our names make up a large part of our basic identity and getting it right is beneficial for everyone.

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