Community//

Stress in college. How can students cope with stress?

Stressful situations take a great part of the usual college life. When students are unable to control their feelings and emotions, their responses are becoming disruptive. While your interlocutor can forget about your threatening behavior like anxiety, anger, sadness, or fear – your body systems won’t. Chronic stress in college is among three most common […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

Stressful situations take a great part of the usual college life. When students are unable to control their feelings and emotions, their responses are becoming disruptive. While your interlocutor can forget about your threatening behavior like anxiety, anger, sadness, or fear – your body systems won’t. Chronic stress in college is among three most common mental health issues in students, which are anxiety, stress, and depression. To cope with stress and keep it at bay, students should be aware of the nature of stress and possible stressors to take positive actions and minimize their effects. 

What is stress and its types

Stress in college is a feeling of some physical or emotional tension that comes from any thought, event, or conversation that makes students feel nervous, frustrated, or even angry. College life is full of different challenges and demands that provoke a reaction of the body on it, and that reaction is called stress. For example, feelings of a student when he tries to meet a tough deadline and submits an assignment in the last minute. Stress is very divergent so there are two different classifications of it. 

There is acute stress, which develops quickly due to a particular stressful moment,stress, whichde, episodic. Episodic stress reaction occurs when students experience acute stress on a regular basis or frequently. Chronic stress reaction is in students who suffer from emotional pressure for a prolonged period of time.

 Dr. Karl Albrecht differentiates four types of stress based on stressor:

  • Time. Students experience time stress when their anxiety increases, and the pressure intensifies as they try to go beyond their possibilities in a fixed timeframe. 
  • Anticipatory. It can be frequently experienced during college life as anticipatory stress is based on a specific future event even vague in its nature, for example, exams.
  • Situational. Situational stress occurs, for example, when students make a major mistake in front of their class.
  • Encounter. Many college students experience encounter stress when worrying about interacting with a particular group of people or an individual. 

Stress symptoms 

Stress may affect all aspects of students’ life, involving their emotions, physical health, behaviors, and even thinking ability. As a result, stress symptoms can be felt at four levels:

  •  At the emotional level stress leads to pessimism, sadness, irritability, depression.
  • At the physical level stress causes insomnia, heartache, high blood pressure, high blood sugar.
  • At the behavioral level stress may lead to a desire for isolation, problems in communication with other people, nail-biting.
  • At the cognitive level stress provokes negative thinking, lack of concentration, and pessimism.

Why students face stress in college and how to cope with it

Today, students’ life is full of stressors, as most of them face lots of adaptational requirements after their transition from calm home life to campus. 

  1. Separation from family is a strong stressor provoking numerous stress symptoms like loneliness, anxiety, sadness, irritability, social withdrawal, or even a decreased motivation. However, students can succeed in coping with such college stress by realizing homesickness as a normal feeling, talking about their feelings with friends, or by making plans to visit their home, but keep in mind that they will be returning to college. 
  2. To deal with stress caused by making new acquaintances and life on campus, students may allow time to get them used to their new home environment. 
  3. When in college, students begin an independent life with new responsibilities that may also result in stress. To increase self-responsibility and independence, students may get more involved in campus activities. 
  4. While previous stressors usually occur in young students in the first year of college, exams, grades, and overload of academic assignments exist during the whole four-year degree. There are several useful tips for coping with such long-lasting stress listed below:
  • stay realistic when it comes to expectations about college;
  • remember about relax time in addition to studying if you don’t want to burn out;
  • structure time and work to find a healthy balance;
  • use professional writing assistance from services such as WriteMyPaper4Me in case you cannot deal with the assignment and get your high grade without stress. 
  1. Sometimes, students face stress when it comes to financing or health issues. Such stressors are linked together as the lack of money can cause some health issues and, conversely, you can spend all money on getting healthy. Moreover, such factors are more dangerous in terms of stress in college than previously mentioned as they may occur spontaneously. First of all, every student should remember about basic stress-reducing techniques like meditation, breathtaking, or some muscle relaxation as stress management builds a low-stress lifestyle. Then, to cope with financial stress, you should understand the debt cycle and find extra sources of income. By the way, it is highly important to control finance properly as finance stress leads to poor physical and mental health, delayed healthcare, and even unhealthy coping behaviors. Therefore, to stay healthy, you should take care of yourself, learn the signs of burnout, try to get some regular exercise, or practice mindfulness in your college life. 
  2. In case you get stressed because of some problems in your romantic relationships, you should deal with it immediately as you will create a negative cycle where your partner will “catch” your stress. To stop destroying your relationships with stress, you may follow useful tips, such as live in the moment and train your brain for it, attend to your needs instead of fears, or practice being uncomfortable. 
  3. Sometimes, stress may occur even on the basis of the improper balance between college, work, and private life. To cope with such stress, all you need to do is get acquainted with time management techniques. A majority of students perfectly balance between college, work, and private life thanks to time management as they are self-aware, structured, focused, intentional, and prioritized. The aforementioned features will also ensure students from getting frightened of post-graduation life, as they can manage their time and emotions without getting affected by any stressors.

    Tips for healthy stress management

Students may succeed in spending the great and carefree college life, but they should avoid stress. Just follow these general useful, healthy stress management tips:

  • Set realistic goals
  • Have a stress outlet
  • Avoid overloading with tasks
  • Get academic assistance if needed
  • Manage your time effectively
  • Plan for the worst outcome (imagining the worst outcome and planning what you will do then helps release the situation)
  • Have enough sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthy
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Relax ( try massage, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy)
  • Get support from friends and family
  • Think positively.     

Avoid these unhealthy ways of coping with stress

As most students tend to cope with stress in unhealthy ways, they put in danger their physical and mental health. To take care of yourself, have a look at the most dangerous unhealthy habits and try to forget about doing any of them:

  • Overuse of caffeine and energy boosters
  • Smoking 
  • Abuse of alcohol, drugs, and substances
  • Spending money
  • Gaming
  • Over or undereating
  • Spending days on social media

If you have these symptoms, you might need professional help

Casual stress won’t cause such huge health issues as chronic stress can. When students get in stressful situations every day or even every hour, they live in total stress with the most dangerous acute symptoms of suicidal thoughts, constant substance abuse, panic attacks, or abnormal desire for isolation. Having any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should ask for professional help; otherwise, they will lead to far more dangerous health problems or even loss of life. 

Unfortunately, no one is safe from stress, but everyone can get immediate help once he/she mentioned any symptom close to the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Constant substance abuse
  • Panic attacks
  • Abnormal desire for isolation

Where to get help 

There are several options to choose from when when a student needs professional help:

  1. College counseling service. If you have any emotional issues, you may get help in counseling service where you will have a talking therapy with a trained therapist listening to your problems and giving recommendations. 
  2. Student advisor. To get intensive advising support, students may regularly contact a student advisor. 
  3. Counseling and psychological services (CAPS). CAPS are designated to provide necessary psychological help to university-enrolled students, so if you feel mentally ill, you may easily request some help.  
  4. Therapist or doctor. In case you observe serious mental health problems, you should better visit a licensed psychologist who is qualified to do psychotherapy and counseling or perform different psychological testing, and finally provide treatment in case of mental disorder.
  5. Hot lines (such as samsha.gov). To get free of charge government help, you may refer to hotlines that reduce the impact of mental illness and substance abuse on US communities. 

Final thoughts 

College stress is a normal practice as students are unable to deal with increased responsibilities or changes in eating habits due to the lack of appropriate time management and a healthy lifestyle. When facing stress in college, it is crucial to follow stress management techniques and ask for help on time. You should take care of yourself and spend the best years in college with minimal stress. 

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Edward Granlund: Why Exercise Relieves Stress and Improves Mood

by Edward Granlund
funkypoodle / Shutterstock
Well-Being//

4 Things We Learned About Stress Relief in 2019 to Take Into the New Year

by Jessica Hicks
Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images
Thrive Global on Campus//

The Four-Step Process for Managing Stress in College Students

by Brynn Sauer

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.