How to Manage Stress in College

Let’s get one thing straight: Stress isn’t a bad thing. Stress is your body preparing to deal with difficult situations. You need that in college! However, we tend to use our stress in a negative way instead of using it as fuel to do better. So, I’m going to be discussing ways to use your stress positively and how to reduce stress in your life so that overall you can successfully manage stress in college!

how to avoid stress

Plan ahead.

The absolute number one thing you can do to prevent stress in your life is to plan ahead. This makes sure that nothing sneaks up on you. You’re not stressed at the last minute of your deadline if you had planned ahead for it. How can you plan ahead? Of course, with a planner! I use my trusty planner and planner system to organize all parts of my life!

Start early.

If you had planned ahead using your planner or whatever system works for you, this step is easy! Utilize your free time or your bored time to get ahead on something else. This isn’t necessarily about school work. If you’re not feeling the work, maybe get ahead on other things, like cleaning your dorm room. Whatever it is, the more rushed you are doing it, the more  stress it will add.

manage stress is college

Have a positive outlook.

This is not easy to do. I can’t tell you to just be happy and then your life will be happy. However, I do believe we have some control over our emotions and outlooks. This doesn’t mean we should be happy and positive all the time. But, if you can notice yourself being pessimistic or gloomy about something, check yourself. Assess what you can do to make yourself feel better. Try to frame the situation in a better way. It’s difficult, but not impossible, and super impactful.

Say no.

I struggle with this! I want to do everything. I do the extra credit projects, I help my friends, I go to every hang out… but you have to be okay saying no! I need to learn that I don’t have to be Supergirl. It’s okay and necessary to admit that you can’t take on something else, that you’re too busy or too overwhelmed to agree to something. There’s no shame in that. Celebrate saying no. Success is not how many things you can do–it’s how many things you can do well while still taking care of yourself.

Take regular breaks.

Even if you feel like you have no time and you’re rushing to get things completed, breaks are totally necessary. I’m talking about both fifteen minute breaks while you’re studying, but also weekend breaks where you give yourself a chance to go home or escape from responsibilities. Being burnt out doesn’t help you or your stress levels.

manage stress in college

how to use your stress

Track it.

If you find yourself regularly stressed out, you can use that as a sign that something needs to change in your life. By keeping track of your stress, you can track the stressors and what behaviors encourage this stress. Once you’ve tracked your stress, you’ll be better able to control and manage it.

Focus on what you can control.

You can’t control how picky your psychology professor is about essays. But, you can control how early you start on your paper so you can have time for the IA to proofread it. Instead of freaking out about the professor, try to focus your energy on writing the best paper. This works in every situation! You simply can’t do anything about the things out of your control, so just worry about what you can control!

Remind yourself that stress tells you what’s important.

If what you’re worried about wasn’t important, you wouldn’t worry about it! Stress is a good way to remind yourself what your priorities are and why this thing is so important to you. That can seem scary, but it’s a good thing! The importance of your stressor can compel you to work harder and do your best.

manage stress in college

what to do when stress is too much

Reach out to others.

When your body is experiencing stress, it naturally releases hormones that makes us more sociable. Your body is seeking community and the comfort of others. Use that! Text your friends, call your parents, send a goofy snapchat, email your favorite blogger (that’s me). You have people who support you and want to see you succeed. When your stress becomes too much, reaching out to others can be just what you need. We all get stressed and we can all relate to what you’re going through, so don’t be scared!


Taking a moment to yourself is super important! If I take just one moment where I focus on my breathing and clearing my mind, I feel loads better. I tend to get panicky anxious when I’m too stressed out, so reminding myself to breathe helps me so much.

Take a hot or cold shower.

Again, this is about stepping back and giving yourself space to be comforted and relaxed. I prefer hot showers (and people who love cold showers are probably monsters that we shouldn’t trust), but this is really just about making yourself happy or relaxed for the moment before you get back to work.

manage stress in college

Exercise or stretch.

For some people, the idea of working out increases their stress levels. But exercise can be as simple as taking a walk. Physical activity releases endorphins that literally fight against stress, so how can you go wrong? Stretch to relieve some tension that you’re carrying. Make your body feel better and your mind will follow! If you’re looking for motivation to work out, check out this post: How to Motivate Yourself to Workout!

Work really hard.

Sometimes, the only thing I can do to calm my stress is to actually get something done. In those cases, I just have to get to work and physically make my stressor go away. I guess the only sure-fire way to eliminate the stressor is to eliminate the stressor.

Unfortunately, we can’t magically make our stress disappear. It’s here for a reason; to help us. Hopefully with a little help, you can lessen your stress and are now more aware of what to do when you’re feeling stressed out.
If you’re feeling helpless, you’re not alone and there’s no reason to suffer. Someone is always there to listen, whether that’s me (please reach out!) or a hotline. This website has an entire list of different hotlines full of people trained to talk to you about anything you’re dealing with. There’s even textlines! Give it a try.
Do you experience lots of stress? How do you manage stress? Leave a comment below & let’s talk about it!