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College life can be an exciting time in any young person’s life. Here they will begin forging a path that may one day lead to a fruitful career, make lifelong friends, and enjoy discovering the independence and freedom of living on their own for the first time.

However, statistics published by the American Institute of Stress show us that stress among college students is also at a concerning level. Heavy workloads, financial pressure, and poor time management are just some of the challenges college students face and why eight in 10  experience frequent bouts of stress.

Not only can high levels of stress contribute to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression but they can also lead to physical health problems such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, and stomach issues.

If you are experiencing stress while at college, this article provides valuable tips for managing and reducing stress, helping to bring benefits to your overall well-being and facilitate your academic success.

Diet and Nutrition

With tight deadlines and long nights studying, it can be easy to skip meals and end up relying on snacks and fast food to fill your stomach. Many students also turn to these foods when they are feeling stressed in an attempt to comfort themselves and soothe their emotions. However, research shows there is a positive correlation between the consumption of these foods and stress levels with one study revealing that a diet high in fast food and processed foods may worsen stress and mental health.

By being more conscious about your food choices you can improve your energy levels and overall feeling of well-being. Opt for nutritious meals that are rich in vitamins and minerals and swap sugary snacks for healthier options such as fruits and nuts.

Avoid Dependence on Stimulants

As a student, it can be easy to rely on caffeinated drinks like coffee and energy beverages to help keep you alert during late-night study sessions or early-morning lectures. However, these stimulants also elevate cortisol levels in the body. Known as the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol helps the body respond to stressors by increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and alertness, as if in response to a stressful event. Over time, high cortisol levels can also lead to chronic stress.

Unfortunately, many students are relying on prescription stimulants to help them stay awake and focused during their time at college. One study revealed that approximately 10.4% of students surveyed had either used a stimulant or were currently using prescription stimulants illegally. In addition to increasing stress levels, the abuse of stimulants can also lead to drug addiction. If you need help in this area, rehab centers such as Southeast Detox can offer you guidance and tools to help you on your road to recovery. 

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is necessary for the healthy functioning of the mind and body and without it, our mental faculties, mood regulation, and physical health begin to suffer. According to research by the American Psychological Association, adults who sleep less than eight hours a night report higher stress levels compared to those who sleep at least eight hours a night.

Poor sleep can affect your ability to concentrate and remain alert during the day, increasing the need for stimulants. This can create a vicious cycle which further contributes to high stress levels. By making sleep a priority, you can break this cycle and regain a healthier state of mind and feeling of well-being. Below are some tips that can help you get more sleep as a student:

  1. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake as you get closer to bedtime as they can both disrupt the quality of your sleep.
  2. Avoid screen time from electronic devices within an hour of bedtime. 
  3. Practice physical exercise on a daily basis, avoiding intense physical activity two hours before bedtime.
  4. Create a sleep schedule where you go to sleep and wake up at fixed times, and ensure you get enough morning sunlight.
  5. Make sure to wind down before going to bed. There are numerous ways to do this such as having a bath, listening to soothing music, meditating or through the use of essential oils like lavender, neroli and ylang ylang.
  6. Use your bed for sleep only, avoiding its use for other activities such as watching TV, eating or working.


Regular exercise is not only great for your physical health but can also help relieve stress in your mind and body in a number of ways. Physical activity such as swimming, running, or cycling can increase the production of endorphins. Endorphins lead to an improvement in your mood following exercise, helping to reduce stress levels and promote an overall feeling of well-being.

By engaging in physical activity, you are also more present, allowing you to take your mind off academic worries or other problems you may be facing. By focusing on your movements and the sport or activity you are engaged in you can help to cultivate presence of mind and a more balanced outlook that keeps stressful thoughts at bay. Regular exercise can also aid a good night’s sleep, helping you to be more alert and focused during your studies and less reliant on stimulants to keep you awake.

Get Organized

Stress can arise from feelings of overwhelm, often as a result of leaving things to the last minute, or mismanaging your time. Rather than cramming for important deadlines as they approach, stay on top of your academic schedule and keep track of your assignments with the help of a planner or online calendar. This will allow you to make more efficient use of your day by allocating time for study, socializing, and exercise. 

With so many new experiences to sample, it can be difficult to find time for yourself. Stress and burnout can also come about as a result of taking on too many responsibilities or social engagements so it’s also important to schedule some time just for yourself where you can relax and unwind.

By following these tips, you can enjoy your college years in a healthier, more stress-free, and productive manner.