7 Stress Reduction Tips for Stressed College and University Students

You feel like the tasks on your list keep piling up. You complete one, and suddenly there’s five more! You feel overwhelmed, don’t know where to start, and don’t see an end in sight. For college students, excessive stress can interfere with their ability to focus and complete their coursework. 

For today’s college student, stress is impossible to avoid, but fortunately it is possible to manage and decrease. From self-care options to guidance from professionals, there are plenty of stress reduction tips for college and university students to explore.

First, we will discuss the mental health of today’s stressed college students, then we’ll provide some tips to combat stress and increase well-being! Then we’ll dive into potential stress reduction tips.

Stressed students and mental health

It’s an undeniable truth that college and university students are often stressed out. Approximately 8 in 10 college students have frequent stints of stress, making it one of the most prevalent mental health issues for students today. 

The most common problems that lead to stressed students include:

  • Low test or assignment grades
  • Overwhelming quantity of coursework
  • Financial difficulties
  • Packed schedules

It’s important to note that anxiety and stress aren’t one and the same, though they can both interfere with your overall quality of life. Stress is a short-term reaction to an external factor, such as a low test score or financial issues. Anxiety is a mental health disorder that causes overwhelming mental and emotional distress, even if there isn’t a definitive cause.

Anxiety is the most common mental health issue among college and university students. Approximately 11.9% are suffering from an anxiety disorder. 

It’s possible for students to feel stressed without having an anxiety disorder such as generalized disorder or panic disorder. But stress is often a trigger for anxiety symptoms. 

7 tips for stressed college students

The difficult thing about being a stressed student is that, because it’s often recurring, it can feel like you have to accept the stress as part of your lifestyle. Even though you cannot avoid stress-inducing situations, you can implement techniques to reduce stress and improve your overall ability to cope. 

While some tips for stressed students can be done on their own, others may require the guidance of a professional.

Here are seven stress reduction tips for college and university students:

  • Journal — Journaling can be an effective way to reduce stress because it is a place to write down your thoughts and feelings, so they’re no longer swirling around your mind. It can also help you be able to gain clarity on a situation, by creating an opportunity to reflect on it.

  • Prioritize sleep — College-aged students need seven to nine hours of sleep every night for optimal physical health, brain functioning, and to support a strong immune system. Stressed students tend to be sleep deprived because of packed schedules and racing thoughts at night.

  • Eat a balanced diet — The diet of a college student tends to consist of highly processed food that doesn’t provide the nutrients necessary for their body and mind to properly function. It’s important to eat foods with nutrients that play a role in stress regulation, such as B vitamins and magnesium.

  • Improve your organization — There’s no shortage of dates that need to be remembered and resources that need to be readily available. Proper organization can play a huge role in reducing stress. Marking down important dates on a calendar and having organized systems for your notes can help with prioritization and time management.

  • Spend time outside — From lecture halls and libraries to dorm rooms and club meetings, college students spend a lot of time indoors. But stressed students can benefit from being outdoors because nature has been shown to reduce stress and increase positive emotions. Taking short walks outside or studying in the park can go a long way.

  • Book an appointment with an advisor — If you’re feeling stressed due to your course load or post-graduation plans, a school advisor may be able to help. They can determine if you should make adjustments to your schedule to ease the stress, teach you study skills, and help you make short- and long-term goals.

  • Therapy — Even if your stress isn’t triggered by an anxiety disorder, a licensed clinical therapist can help. Talking with a therapist can help you figure out the root fears behind your stress and develop skills and coping mechanisms to manage your stress in the future.

Lightfully U can help stressed college and university students

If you’re a stressed college or university student, it’s important to care for your mental health so that you can focus on thriving both in and out of the classroom. Lightfully U offers a Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program, or vIOP, to help you manage mental health disorder symptoms that are interfering with your quality of life. This level of care features one-on-one, family and group sessions as well as alumni resources. 

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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