Mason Family Flash

Stress less for success: Find balance during midterms

As we enter October, many students are just now adjusting to their new schedule and college life at Mason. However, the beginning of October can prove to be a challenging time for students as they prepare for mid-semester exams.

Midterm season is a time when students often experience high levels of stress that can, at times, affect their physical and emotional well-being. From studying for exams to writing papers, all in the span of one week, it is common for students to undergo noticeable changes in their behavior as they work to meet their academic demands.

Whether this is your student’s first experience preparing for midterm exams or nearly their last, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is here to provide you with ways to support your student achieve their highest level of emotional and physical well-being while conquering midterms.

Self-care tips:
Students may neglect or forget to take care of themselves during midterm season. In order to make more time for studying and completing writing assignments, students have been known to pull all-nighters, give up their favorite hobbies, and even reduce social activities.

During this time, it is important for students to be reminded of their health and make time to treat themselves. Below are a few examples of activities students can engage in to help improve their emotional and physical well-being during midterms:

  • Intentionally schedule “me time”
  • Exercise to increase endorphins by naturally releasing tension and stress
  • Share a deep, belly laugh with others to lift their mood and strengthen their immune system
  • Remember to eat well-balanced meals on a regular schedule
  • Be sure to obtain at least 7-8 hours of sleep daily
  • Create opportunities to connect either by phone or in-person with loved ones and friends
  • Practice yoga, meditation, or prayer
  • Learn breathing exercises focused to increase relaxation
  • Reconnect with their inner child—find a coloring book or draw
  • Write in a journal

Warning signs of too much stress:
While it is normal for students to express feeling slightly more stressed or anxious during midterm season, CAPS understands that this time of year may cause some students to experience significant distress, causing their friends and family to feel concerned for them. Here is a list of common warning signs to look out for with your student:

  • Drastic changes in personal hygiene
  • Depression or lack of energy
  • Significant nervousness, agitation or irritability
  • Withdrawal, indecisiveness and/or confusion
  • Aggressive or abrasive behavior
  • Pattern of infrequent class attendance and/or little to no work completed
  • Written or verbal comments about wanting to harm themselves or other

How to support your student in distress:
Whether your student lives at home or is several thousands of miles away, you are not alone in supporting your student who may be experiencing significant emotional or psychological distress. Mason provides a number of resources to ensure your student receives the help they need.

If you feel there is immediate danger, call Mason Police promptly at either 9-1-1 (when on campus) or (703) 993-2810. If you do not feel your student’s concerns rise to the level of an emergency, contact the Student Support and Advocacy Center during business hours at (703) 993-3686.

CAPS is also available during business hours via phone at (703) 993-2380 to consult during a difficult situation. CAPS can address questions or concerns you have about your student’s well-being, including providing information on where to obtain assistance and guidance about how to help your student get the support they need. Note: CAPS is not able to initiate contact with students who are not active clients who have signed a release of information.

All Mason students actively registered for classes are eligible for services at CAPS, which are free and confidential. Students may call (703) 993-2380 to make an appointment for a consultation and/or mental health services.

Mason parents and families, thank you for being an integral part of Mason Nation! For more information about services offered at CAPS and how to provide support to your student during times of peak stress, visit

Brandon Cantrell
Graduate Assistant
Learning Services