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Studying at local coffee shops like Shenandoah Joe's can help one focus more in a quieter, more peaceful environment. 

With midterms around the corner, students can feel stressed and may forget to take care of themselves. Pulling all-nighters sometimes becomes the norm, and coffee might become a meal. However, there are ways students can get through this difficult period with fewer tears. These tips can help one make better use of their study time and pick themselves up after a hard week. 

Find a new place to study (that isn’t the library)

Changing one’s surroundings can help keep the brain alert when studying. While Carrier and Rose libraries are great studying spaces, there are many other places around campus and Harrisonburg to set up for an all-day session. If one branches out, they might discover local coffee shops such as Shenandoah Joe’s and Black Sheep Coffee. Also, most buildings on campus have tables hidden in secluded, less traveled areas of the halls. Doing a little exploring can lead one to a new, quiet area. Going outside is always a great option, too — the fresh air and JMU’s spacious campus are guaranteed to help.

Listen to music while you study

According to researchers at Florida National University, music’s benefits on the human brain are scientifically proven. Listening to music while studying helps keep stress at bay while improving one’s mood, focus and brain function. This is especially true for instrumental music. Music streaming services like Apple Music, YouTube and Spotify have premade playlists specifically designed to help one study. If one prefers music with lyrics, they can create their own playlist to get in the studying mood.

Lay off the lattes

Every day, students across the country consume tons of coffee — arguably, too much. While coffee is a helpful stimulant that keeps the brain active, there are negative effects that come with it. Dr. James Lane, a research professor at Duke University, said caffeine “exaggerate[s] the stress response both in terms of the body’s physiological response … but it also magnifies a person’s perception of stress.” A healthier alternative is green tea, which stimulates one’s brain without giving their body the jittery effects and gastrointestinal problems that coffee does. Teas also come in flavors like peach and lemonade if one is looking for something refreshing and invigorating.

Take a break

Long, uninterrupted hours of studying can wear anyone out, making it harder to concentrate, understand concepts and remember important information. Breaks are vital to the studying process to keep the brain active and receptive. Some people use the Pomodoro method. In this practice, a student focuses hard for 25 minutes then takes a five-minute break.

However, this doesn’t mean checking Instagram every half hour. According to articles published on the online Learning Corner at Oregon State University, the benefits of taking a break come from movement and brain stimulation. Get up and step outside, stretch or explore the library for a few minutes. Moving around creates blood flow, increasing brain function so one can make the most of their study session.

Stay social

Midterm season can be a tough time, and it’s easy to hole up in the library or one’s dorm room. Some people spend extra time studying while others don’t get enough sleep. Doing well in school is important, but remember — so is mental health.  A survey directed by the American Psychological Association found that anxiety is the most prevalent concern for college students, experienced by roughly 41% of students. Depression follows close behind at 36%. Because of these common issues, it is important to take care of one’s mind. Rest and relaxation can be necessary for anyone, especially during difficult times at school. Next time one thinks they may have a meltdown if they have to read one more word in their textbook, they should take a well-deserved mental break. For instance, they could chill on the Quad or go out to dinner with roommates. If one is really on a deadline, studying with a friend or classmate can be beneficial. Whatever makes one happy, they should do that thing.

Classes can be exhausting for anyone when they demand full, undivided attention and effort every day of the week. If one didn't get to turn in every assignment or didn't do as well as they thought they may on a test, they should remember that it's simply that — a test. Implementing these tips may help one study better, relax more and stay sane.

Contact Charlotte Matherly at matherg@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.