How to Reduce Stress in College

College students face a significant amount of stress due to various factors. Many aspects of college life, as well as the stress that comes with it, can all impact a student’s physical and emotional health. If you’re a college student facing stress, here are some ways you can maintain good health and keep your sanity.


Get Organized

student writing in notebook
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Many students find it challenging to go from having ample parental support and structure to creating their own structure and self-discipline. With all the fun and temptation to party coupled with the looser structure of classes, many students find themselves cramming, pulling all-nighters, and struggling with keeping up. In college, it’s important to stay organized.

Create a Space

As you set up your living space, be sure there’s a quiet space for you to focus and concentrate. If your roommate is noisy or ever-present, that may mean finding a favorite nook in the library or coffee shop to frequent. Otherwise, set up a nice desk for yourself where you can keep everything you need, focus, and get things done.

Create a Schedule

When planning your activities, be sure you allow yourself the time you need to study and get work done. You may require more time than you realize at first, so it’s best to over-estimate when it comes to studying hours, so you don’t have to pull all-nighters and end up paying for it the next few days.

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Regular Exercise

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One of the best ways to combat stress--as well as weight gain and frustration—is to get regular exercise. Even if you’re only able to work out in 10-minute increments, exercise can elevate your mood, release tension, and help keep your body healthy. And if you get in the habit of exercising regularly now, this can serve you for the rest of your life. Here are some ideas you can use to fit more exercise into your schedule.

Walk When You Can

Campus life often offers options for walking, and you should take full advantage of them! Taking a walk around campus between classes, or walking (instead of driving) to a friend’s house if it’s close are two ideas. If you look for them, walking opportunities will crop up everywhere.

Take Classes

One of the best things about college life is that there are so many amazing opportunities for growth and new experience—including gym and P.E. classes! If you’re bored with 30 minutes of Stairmaster, why not try martial arts, salsa dancing, or kickboxing classes? Look into what’s available, and have a great time. It’s an excellent way to relieve stress and stay healthy!

Try Yoga

Providing excellent relaxation and total health benefits, yoga is a great form of exercise for college students. Yoga classes are offered at many college gyms and can be a fun way to relax with friends. Yoga can also be done in the morning or before bed, accommodating a busy college schedule.


Take Care of Your Body

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Without parents around to be sure healthy food and adequate sleep are a priority, many college students skimp on both and forget to take care of their bodies. Staying up late when early classes loom the next day, grabbing fast food on the way to a party, or living on junk food and energy drinks can seem like a given in college life, but can really sabotage you in the end. That’s why it’s important for college students to really be careful about self-care, and keep the following in mind.

Eat Right

While fast food and junk food are cheap, convenient, and plentiful, they don’t set you up to do your best. Be sure to keep your dorm room or apartment stocked with a few fresh fruits and veggies, and high-protein snacks, and be sure that your main meals are healthy and balanced.

Get Enough Sleep

Many college students find it difficult to get enough sleep because of busy schedules, late-night excitement, or stress. However, to stay healthy, it’s important to commit to getting as close to a full 8 hours as you can. If you stay up late, don’t schedule morning classes, or if you must get up early, go to bed at a reasonable hour. Take advantage of power naps, and avoid these sleep saboteurs. Getting adequate shut-eye can help do your best and enjoy yourself more.

Relieve Stress

If you don’t already have effective stress relievers at your disposal, now is the perfect time to explore new stress relief techniques that you can use throughout your life. This can enhance your health and happiness for decades to come.


Find Support

Group of students talking
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Going to college usually means leaving close friends and family behind. This can be quite stressful for college students who haven’t developed a new support circle yet and can lead to loneliness and a sense of feeling ‘lost’, both of which can be stressful. Here are some things to remember when off at college:

Stay Connected to Home

Whether you’re down the street or across the country, being away from home can be difficult at times. Don’t forget to use the phone, email, and even video teleconferencing to stay in touch with family and friends at home. A quick chat with mom can go a long way!

Branch Out at School

Getting involved with groups and clubs at school can be an excellent remedy for college loneliness. Join an exercise class, talk to people you run into around campus, or take advantage of the many social opportunities on your campus that can put you in touch with people who may end up being lifelong friends. It can be difficult to put yourself out there, but having people to study with, exercise with, commiserate with, and party with are worth getting past shyness, and can relieve a lot of college stress.

Student Services

If you find it especially difficult to adjust to the changes or ongoing challenges of college life, your campus likely has resources to help. Go to Student Health and see if they offer workshops or a few counseling sessions; many students find this to be very helpful and learn skills there that help them for the rest of their lives.

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Vadeboncoeur C, Townsend N, Foster C. A meta-analysis of weight gain in first year university students: is freshman 15 a myth?BMC Obes. 2015;2:22. Published 2015 May 28. doi:10.1186/s40608-015-0051-7

  3. Dol KS. Effects of a yoga nidra on the life stress and self-esteem in university students. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019;35:232-236. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.03.004

  4. Ayala EE, Winseman JS, Johnsen RD, Mason HRC. U.S. medical students who engage in self-care report less stress and higher quality of life. BMC Med Educ. 2018;18(1):189. doi:10.1186/s12909-018-1296-x

  5. Bryan JL, Baker ZG, Tou RY. Prevent the blue, be true to you: Authenticity buffers the negative impact of loneliness on alcohol-related problems, physical symptoms, and depressive and anxiety symptoms. J Health Psychol. 2017;22(5):605-616. doi:10.1177/1560909013591053

Additional Reading

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD
Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.