How To Manage Stress in College

“College was the best four years of my life.”

This is a cliché that unfortunately isn’t true for every student attending a university.

According to, “More than 40 percent of college students have felt more than an average amount of stress within the past 12 months.” This excess stress could be due to a lack of sleep, an overwhelming amount of homework and studying for exams, being homesick, and missing loved ones.

Within the past year, 31% of college students have felt so depressed that it was difficult for them to function. More than 50% of college students have felt overwhelming anxiety in the past year, making it hard for them to succeed academically. You don’t have to be one of them. By following these seven tips, you can break away from the statistics and learn how to manage stress in college by keeping yourself happy and healthy on campus.

  • Exercise. According to a recent ADAA online poll, about 14% of people exercise regularly to cope with stress. 29% percent of those polled prefer walking, while 20% choose running, and 11% pick yoga as their stress-relieving strategy. Exercise may possibly be the number one recommended way to alleviate stress by health care professionals. Exercising not only releases endorphins that make you feel good, but it also has health benefits such as improving physical condition and fighting diseases. When you’re feeling down, grab your iPod and take a stroll or sprint across campus.
  • Vent to friends or family.  18% of people in the ADAA poll reported talking to friends or family when stressed. Whether you talk to your mom over the phone, boyfriend via Skype, text your closest friends, or dish the dirt to your roommates or floor mates, it’ll make you feel better to relieve all of the bottled up stress from the day before you emotionally explode.
  • SleepA Huffington Post survey revealed that “getting too little sleep” was the most common answer when respondents were asked specifically whether or not a wide range of things caused them stress over the course of a month. Fortunately, sleep is one stressor that individuals can actually do something about. 17% of people surveyed for the ADAA poll said they sleep in order to cope with stress. The next time you’re in low spirits, consider going to bed early and getting a full night’s sleep. Getting the required minimum of eight hours of sleep each night has wondrous way of making life’s stresses smaller.
  • Watch your favorite movie or TV show.  14% of ADAA pollers said that they watch movies or television in order to relieve stress. Watching other people deal with situations can make you forget about your own. Browse through Netflix, pop in a DVD, or turn on your favorite prime time TV show with a bag of microwave popcorn in hand and enjoy a nice break while snuggling under a warm blanket.
  • Eat. If you’ve been busy attending class and studying all day but haven’t taken the time to eat meals, that could definitely be a big reason why you’re stressed out. 14% of ADAA pollers admitted to eating when they’re stressed, but the APA poll revealed that 48% of people were overeating or eating unhealthy foods. It’s okay to eat your favorite foods when you’re feeling stressed because they give you a sense of comfort. However, if they’re high in fat, try to control the amount you’re eating. Consuming loads of unhealthy foods have resulted in higher rates of obesity. Instead, consider healthier snack and meal options if possible. Not only will it provide you with more energy that’ll make you get through the day easier, your stomach will thank you for not filling it with processed junk.
  • Listen to music. 13% of ADAA pollers listen to music to alleviate stress. Plug in your earbuds, crank up the volume on your speakers, and enjoy the sounds you hear. Listen to songs that are upbeat, and don’t be afraid to get up and dance. Listening to music is enough to flip your frown upside down, but busting a move can release more endorphins, which will increase your positive mood, and you’ll be burning calories. Talking about killing two birds with one stone!
  • Laugh. Laughter helps bring the focus away from anger, stress, and other negative emotions. Researchers found that humor can give us a more light-hearted perspective when it comes to stressful events that we view as threats or challenges. Laughter helps making those tribulations less threatening and more positive. Go ahead and look up some funny videos on YouTube, Vine, or read the comics in the newspaper. You’ll be cracking up in no time and too distracted to even think about all of the stress going on in your life.

If you find yourself still having trouble coping with stress, contact the wellness center on your campus. They can provide you with support and resources, as well as give you advice on how to manage stress in college.

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Britni Roberts

Britni Roberts

Britni Roberts is a senior at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois pursuing a degree in English Writing. She has been an Editor for the North Central Kindling humor magazine, Assistant News and Arts Editor for the North Central Chronicle newspaper, as well as a DJ and Rock News Reporter for WONC-FM 89.1, her college’s radio station. She enjoys listening to music and spending time with her friends, boyfriend, and his cat Willow.