The end is near for my Junior year here in college. You’d think that I’d be some sort of veteran to the whole ceremony of midterm season. And I guess in some ways I am. I learn and take everything by stride.

I’m an expert in the art of calming down. I mean, if you really think about it…stress does absolutely nothing good for you. At least for me stress just made me make more mistakes which would then make me MORE stressed. It was a positive feedback cycle. Ha! How’s that for inserting some Biology vocab? I surprise even myself sometimes. Okay, back to it: stress is bad, serene is good.

The question is how to get to that point of serenity. I admit that it isn’t easy. Being stressed is a habit, especially amongst college students, but if you can break that habit you’ll see that you’ll be a whole lot happier. I am a science major and I’m pre-med, so being stressed used to be my main descriptor. I then realized that I didn’t want that to be the way I remembered college, and I didn’t want that to be the way people remembered me. So I started meditating whenever I felt the wave of stress and anxiety start to envelope me. Believe it or not meditating actually helped a lot.

After I was able to tamper with my body’s reaction to stress, I started looking for fun things to do. Things that were in no way school related. You have to have that division from school and life. I keep telling my friends to not forget that they are in their twenties and it’s OKAY to take a Saturday off and explore Boston or whatever. Most importantly, you mustn’t let yourself feel guilty for allowing yourself to have fun. Having fun and enjoying your youth is life homework—it must be done just like your academic homework. If necessary, take out your planner and schedule in the life-homework so that you actually do it.

I, for one, paint my nails every Saturday evening. I can be a budding scientist and still have nails that slay. I also read books for fun, hop on Netflix, walk to the tiny village off-campus to get myself a cup of coffee. They may sound like droll habits to some of you, but to me these moments are like chocolates: rich and relaxing.

So when the tension starts running high during midterm season, make sure to take care of yourself. You’ll find that your studying will be a whole lot more effective, and your happy disposition will contribute to your confidence. Make yourself the priority at all times. What use is the perfect GPA if you had to sacrifice your mental health?