How to Reduce Student Stress and Excel in School

student using laptop in hallway

Mike Kemp / Getty Images

As educational requirements become more stringent in all levels of education, students everywhere experience considerable school stress. This stress can affect performance on tests, participation in classes, and the well being of students everywhere. Therefore, it's vital for all students to have a collection of effective stress management techniques that work.

Stress-Relief Tips to Help Achieve Success in School

The following stress relief tips and tools for students are vital for minimizing school stress. Use these in your life to learn study skills, prepare for exams and minimize stress levels to make learning easier. 

When you find stress management techniques that work for you and make them habits in your life now, you can draw upon these strategies as you face stress throughout your life. For greater success in school and life, master the following.

Manage Time Wisely

It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to work on your studies if you want to do well, and you can save yourself a lot of stress if you plan with good time management skills.

Setting up a schedule for study, breaking up your studies into smaller chunks, and other time management skills are essential.

Setting what is known as SMART goals can be an effective way to get things done without becoming overly stressed. SMART is an acronym that reminds you to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. By breaking down a larger project into smaller steps, you can progressively work toward achieving a larger goal without becoming overwhelmed.

Get Organized

Have a system of organization for note-taking, keeping track of assignments, and other important papers. Being organized can bring you the peace of mind that comes from knowing where everything is, remembering deadlines and test dates, and clearing your mind of some of the mental clutter that disorganization brings.

Keep a calendar, a schedule, and a filing system for your school assignments, and you’ll find it prevents a significant amount of stress!

Create a Good Study Environment

Creating a soothing environment can reduce stress and help you learn.

Aromatherapy, for example, is a known stress reliever, and peppermint essential oil is said to wake up your brain. Playing classical music as you study can also soothe you and help you learn (unless you find it distracting). 

Consider what would make a good study environment for you. Each individual is different, so what works for someone else might be less than ideal for you. 

Know Your Learning Style

Learning style theories suggest that people learn information in different ways. You may find it helpful to determine whether you are more of a visual, kinesthetic or auditory learner, as you can tailor your study practices around your particular learning style and make success easier to attain. 

Practice Visualizations

Visualizations and imagery are proven stress management techniques. You can also reduce student stress and improve test performance by imagining yourself achieving your goals.

Take a few minutes each day and visualize, in detail, what you'd like to happen, whether it’s giving a presentation without getting nervous, acing an exam, or something else that will support your success. Visualization and guided imagery are the most effective when you can use all of your senses to create a vivid image. Then work hard and make it happen.

Develop Optimism

It has been proven that optimists—those who more easily shrug off failures and multiple successes—are healthier, less stressed, and more successful. While some level of optimism is inborn, optimism is a state that can be practiced, and your overall levels of optimism can increase as a result. Positive self-talk is a great way to start developing a stronger sense of optimism. 

Develop the traits of optimism and you'll do better in your studies and your future career.

Get Enough Sleep

If you want your performance to be optimum, you need to be well-rested. Research shows that those who are sleep-deprived have more trouble learning and remembering, and perform more poorly in many areas. You can also be more reactive to stress when you are sleep-deprived, so there are many reasons to focus on getting quality sleep each night. 

Students are notoriously busy and sleep-deprived, so you may need to go against the grain at times in order to protect your sleep schedule, but it will be worth it both now and in the future. Work your schedule so you get enough sleep, or take power naps.

Learn Study Skills

When you know and practice specific study skills, your entire school experience becomes easier. Learning to stay focused on tasks and organized with your study schedule, for example, can enable you to get more done when you study.

Many of these skills transfer to productivity skills in your career, so they are important to know. Here are some more specific study skills and techniques that can help you improve your performance. 

Use Stress Management Techniques

Chronic stress can impair your ability to learn and remember facts as well; stress management is one of the most important—and most overlooked—school necessities. Some effective stress management techniques include breathing exercises, taking a walk, exercising, and journaling.

Making relaxation techniques, or stress management techniques, a part of your daily routine can help your overall health and wellness and will help decrease the likelihood of going into a state of chronic stress.

A Word From Verywell

A regular stress management practice can reduce your overall stress level and help you to be prepared for whatever comes. The more you identify and practice techniques that work for you now, the more prepared you will be to cope with the challenges you face throughout your life.

8 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.
  1. Shankar NL, Park CL. Effects of stress on students' physical and mental health and academic success. Int J School Educ Psychol. 2016;4(1):5-9, doi:10.1080/21683603.2016.1130532

  2. Alshutwi S, Alkhanfari H, Sweedan N. The influence of time management skills on stress and academic performance level among nursing students. J Nurs Educ Prac. 2020;10(1):96-100. doi:10.5430/jnep.v10n1p96

  3. Ali B, Al-Wabel NA, Shams S, Ahamad A, Khan SA, Anwar F. Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2015;5(8):601-611. doi:10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007

  4. Lehmann JAM, Seufert T. The Influence of Background Music on Learning in the Light of Different Theoretical Perspectives and the Role of Working Memory CapacityFront Psychol. 2017;8:1902. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01902

  5. Bigham E, McDannel L, Luciano I, Salgado-Lopez G. Effect of a brief guided imagery on stress. Biofeedback. 2014;42(1):28-35. doi:10.5298/1081-5937-42.1.07

  6. Conversano C, Rotondo A, Lensi E, Della Vista O, Arpone F, Reda MA. Optimism and its impact on mental and physical well-beingClin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2010;6:25–29. doi:10.2174/1745017901006010025

  7. Krause AJ, Simon EB, Mander BA, et al. The sleep-deprived human brainNat Rev Neurosci. 2017;18(7):404–418. doi:10.1038/nrn.2017.55

  8. Vogel S, Schwabe L. Learning and memory under stress: Implications for the classroomNPJ Sci Learn. 2016;1:16011. doi:10.1038/npjscilearn.2016.11

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.