How to Have a Life During Crunch Time

October 23, 2018

How to Have a Life During Crunch TimeIt’s midterm season. You know what this means –– studying, trying to focus, and drinking gallons of coffee. Self-care is especially imperative during the general stress of midterm season.

There are some common problems that many students run into during this period. However, there are also solutions to these problems. It may come as a surprise, but there is a way to still have a life during “crunch time.” At a recent small-group meeting, students in Berkeley Connect Architecture identified common sources of stress and shared some “hacks” to help each other through:

Forget to Eat?

  • Plan: You can pack a lunch before heading out for the day. This may take some planning, so you should put a daily reminder on your phone and wake up early enough. This saves money and time!
  • Accountability: Set up a buddy system with other people in your program. You can make sure the other person is remembering to eat and remind them if they haven’t. If both of you haven’t, go out together and grab lunch. This has the added benefit of making a new friend!

Stressed about Studying?

  • Study Group: Studying can be less stressful when you’re in a group of people. People have insights that you may have personally not thought about during lecture; sharing these ideas can be extremely beneficial for everybody involved. Forming a study group can help you bond with your classmates, as well as foster an inclusive learning environment.
  • High-Intensity Training: Similar to how powerlifters use high-intensity training for their workouts, one student mentioned their own academic version – high-intensity studying. Many students spend endless hours studying without any information actually getting through to them, a very frustrating process. An architecture student recommended their preferred format of studying: High-quality studying. This may mean no music or podcasts, sorry folks. However, if you study with great focus without any distractions, you may only need to study for three hours instead of five. Dedicate quality time to studying, and it will save you hours later.

Constantly Exhausted?

  • Leisure: You have been studying for what seems like eight hours straight. You are exhausted. However, you’re still pushing through. Is this effective or healthy? Not quite. You should take breaks every hour for around 5-10 minutes; this keeps your brain refreshed. Watch a random Buzzfeed video. Perhaps eat an apple. Maybe you can even do a few jumping jacks! You should just ensure that you are focusing on something other than the work, to give your brain a break.
  • Treat Yourself: Gifting yourself after achievements can subconsciously reinforce your drive for the topic you’re studying. For every chapter read, perhaps give yourself a few pieces of candy. After you finish your exam, perhaps go buy yourself a boba drink. You deserve it!

Graduate student mentor Alec Stewart reminded students that architecture is a greatly rewarding field that requires hard work, and many students need to seek additional help. Stewart recommended going to the Dean’s office hours. This can be very helpful for students. Also, another benefit –– now, the Dean knows your name! Stewart also recommended making a planner for your day. You can create time blocks, ensuring that your schedule is organized and efficient.

There are additional resources for students who are experiencing strain during this time, such as the mental health services on campus. The Tang Center is an important resource for students; counseling appointments and groups are offered, as well as general medical care. There is help available. You are not alone.

Midterm season may be isolating and stressful. However, with these pieces of advice, you can lessen the stress and succeed on your exams. Happy midterm season, everyone!

Written by Melody Niv, Berkeley Connect blogger