It’s that time of year again: the energy in the DC is a bit lacking; the STEM majors wander around campus with huge textbooks and stressed facial expressions; and the most common response to “How are you?” changes from “good” to “tired.” It is, in the words of one of my friends, “Midterm Madness.”
How is a student supposed to survive? Well, the good news is that most students make it through midterms! The bad news is that midterms take a toll on most students physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some of this is inevitable: it’s a very stressful time, and we all need to buckle down and do a lot of work in a short amount of time. This tends to get in the way of a healthy amount of sleep and time to recharge alone or with friends, among other life-giving and energizing experiences—just when we need them most.
People here at Westmont use the term “self-care” a lot, which encompasses many different aspects of a healthy lifestyle. I’d like to use the phrase “space to breathe.” I’m sure we’ve all experienced a moment when we’re so tense that we forget to breathe. In a sense, we all hold our breath during midterms! Even in the thick of academic craziness, however, we all need space to relax and take a deep breath.
I recently experienced the value of a space to breathe. Though my academic stress has been at a moderately high level this week, I have taken a short time almost every day to stop working, take a breath, listen to upbeat music, maybe exercise, and think about things that make me happy. Chapel has also been essential for me to stop thinking about school for an hour and refocus on my faith.
Though I realize that midterms are very stressful and tiring, I want to encourage all of us—including myself!—to make space to breathe in our lives and remember that each breath is a gift from a loving God.