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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ni Li, ND MSc

Stress Management for Students

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

stress management for students

Table of Contents

Causes of stress for students

No kidding. I'd been a student for 25 years! What I can tell about student life is that it can be super stressful, especially during those exam weeks and transitional times! Common causes of stress for students include:

Coursework and exams

High school can be stressful. However, when students move on to post-secondary education, the number of courses and exams increases significantly. Moreover, deadlines and exams congregate within a couple of weeks. It’s common to find yourself juggling too many balls.

Pressure to succeed

Do you feel pressure to succeed? Most of us do. We have external expectations from family, friends, teachers, peer students, and society. We also have internal expectations from ourselves. We set goals to meet those expectations, which could end up being unrealistic and overwhelming.


High school and college time involve many transitions. Students at that time are entering young adulthood accompanied by new responsibilities and challenges. You may get to make life-changing decisions for your future. You may move out and have the independence that you desire. At the same time, you may find yourself in isolation and lacking social support. Stress associated with all these changes can build up to an alarming level for students.


Romantic relationships can be stressful. However, any relationship at home, school, or the workplace can cause stress for students. Caring and supportive relationships are protective during stressful times, while dysfunctional and toxic relationships are damaging.

Stress management for students

To perform and thrive during stressful periods, students should build a good foundation for physical and mental health (through nutrition, sleep, and exercise) and improve their time and stress management skills.

Importance of nutrition for students

Both our body and mind need good nutrition support to function well. Most students are still growing, which comes with higher demands for nutrients. If not adequately supported nutritionally, we may experience low energy levels, low growth rate, poor memory and cognitive functions.

General recommendations for students in terms of diet and eating habits include:

  • A good day starts with a good breakfast which boosts your energy and metabolism;

  • Don’t skip meals. If you ever need to lose some weight, do it by eating a balanced diet and exercising;

  • Eat a balanced diet of whole grains, proteins, vegetables and fruits. Limit added sugar and junk foods;

  • Snack with nuts and seeds, dairy, veggie dips, and fruits;

  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake. The rule of thumb is no more than one drink of coffee or alcohol per day;

  • Make water your drink of choice.

Importance of sleep for students

Sleep is not just for our body to rest and repair. It is essential for our memory processing, learning, and mood regulation. Many students cram before exams and skip sleep, but does that help their memory and grades? Not really. A study has found an association between a good night’s sleep and better exam grades.

General recommendations for students in terms of sleep include:

  • Good sleep hygiene practice, Turn off devices one hour before bedtime and do non-stimulating activities such as reading, showering/bathing, meditation, and journaling;

  • Have 8 hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule every night;

  • Study for exams ahead of time and leave the day before exams just for review. Therefore, you have better memory retention and time for sleep;

  • If you don’t have enough time for studying and have to sacrifice sleep time, take power naps of 20-30 mins during the study to refresh your mind and consolidate your learning. Take a nap before the exam.

Importance of exercise for students

Exercise is beneficial for our body and mind. It is a powerful tool in stress management. High school students have some P.E. requirements, but most college students are on their own to stay active. Without exercising, students may find themselves lacking the energy, both physically and mentally, to meet the demands of their life.

General recommendations for students in terms of exercise include:

  • At least 150 mins of exercise per week. That is 30 mins five days a week or 50 mins three days a week. Moderate intensity is good enough, such as jogging, swimming, and cycling;

  • Have exercise buddies;

  • Maintain your exercise routine when you are under stress.

Importance of time management for students

Much stress for students is time stress. Have a lot on your plate that you have to complete in a short time. Usually, it’s not that you don’t have enough time, although you often feel this way. It is that time needs to be managed and spent more effectively.

Time management tips for students:

  • At the beginning of the semester, put all known deadlines and exam dates in your calendar and planner. Set alerts one to two weeks in advance;

  • When alerted, allocate time to complete the task and put it in your schedule;

  • Leave room for the unexpected. If your assignment/course study needs one day, plan for two. Always plan at least one extra day just in case something happens;

  • Try a Pomodoro timer app or power naps to help you stay focused and productive.

Stress relieving activities for students

I have a guide called “Five quick ways to reduce stress” to get you started. They can fit into any busy schedule and only take a few minutes to help students relieve their daily stress. Download the pdf here on my website.

Last, don’t hesitate to ask for help!

We all have times when we need help from others. Schools and colleges usually have counsellors and advisors available. Many have peer support groups and all sorts of student associations. Tutoring services are accessible as well. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. Other than at school and home, you can also find support from healthcare professionals when you need it. Reach out to us by booking a discovery call. We are always here to listen and help!

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for educational/informational purposes only, and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Learn more.


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