9 Strategies for Managing Stress in University: A Student’s Guide

Embarking on your university experience can be exciting as you will have the opportunity to meet new people from different backgrounds, make new friends, learn new things, and study an area of interest in more detail. While university can be exciting, it can also come with a fair share of stress and challenges that one has to work through. 

University brings on a fast-paced and demanding environment where it is crucial to be able to develop effective strategies to be able to deal with stress. This can help create a more balanced, exciting, and rewarding experience for yourself. This blog post will explore ten different strategies university students can use to help navigate the stresses they face at school. 

  1. Take Time for Yourself: Make time for yourself during the school year. It can be easy to get swept away in everything related to school, but it is important to make time and keep up with the activities you enjoy. This time allows you to step away from your studies and focus on things you are passionate about, as well as gives you time to relax, enjoy yourself, and build a healthy work/school-life balance. Just because you are in university, that does not mean it has to become your whole life; you still need to do the things that you love and enjoy! 
  2. Take Breaks: When studying, doing assignments, or taking classes during university, it is essential to take breaks. Doing this allows individuals to recharge their brains, gain energy, and return to work feeling refreshed and more focused. A break method that many students use is the Pomodoro Technique. The rules for this technique are as follows:
    1. Set a timer for 25 minutes and start working on the task you have set out for yourself (studying or doing an assignment). This is to be done with a minimal amount of distractions. If one comes up, it is best to write it down and return to it later.
    2. After the timer goes off, take a five-minute break to do anything you want, such as going on your phone, getting a snack, checking the distraction you missed, etc.
    3. You will repeat this four times, and after your fourth time, you will take a 30-minute break.
    4. Repeat!
  3. Time Management and Staying Organized: Create a to-do list of the tasks and items you want to complete during a specific period (day or a week). Allocate a specified amount of time for each task that you would like to get completed. The allocated time could be for studying, assignments, papers, breaks, or any other activities you may have planned. Planning out your day or week and allocating time to get tasks done helps you increase your productivity levels, stay on top of your main priorities and feel less stressed about the different items on your plate. 
  4. Support Network: Build a strong network of friends, family and classmates who can provide support during stressful times. With this support network, one can share any concerns they may be having, talk about the challenges they are facing, and seek advice on how they may deal with it all. People receiving high levels of support from their network are said to be more resilient when facing stressful situations. 
  5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Try and maintain a healthy lifestyle during the school year. This can include exercising regularly, maintaining a balanced diet, drinking enough water throughout the day, and getting proper sleep. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to increase your overall well-being (such as helping you feel well and allowing you to concentrate more clearly), which can ultimately help to alleviate any stress you are taking on during the year. 
  6. Find a Stress Outlet for Yourself: Having a healthy outlet that you can turn to during stressful times can benefit students. This outlet can be a place that can help to clear and calm your mind and help clarify how you can navigate any stressful situation. A healthy outlet can include any sort of physical exercise (going to the gym, going for a walk/run, taking a workout class, yoga, etc.), participating in a favourite hobby of yours (reading, art, writing, cooking/baking, video games, crafts, etc.), and socializing with others (spending time with friends or family – individually or collectively, engaging in new social activities or attending group events, etc.). 
  7. Set Realistic Expectations and Goals: Set realistic and attainable goals, expectations, and even time limits for yourself during the school year, especially during the busy seasons. If the goals, expectations, and time limits you set out for yourself are unrealistic and unattainable, this can lead to stress, as one may feel they are not doing enough.  Realistic goals allow students to see the progress they are making and celebrate or recognize any accomplishments they have made thus far. The goals that you set for yourself can follow the SMART framework (Specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely). 
  8. Find Effective Study Techniques for Yourself: Find study techniques that work best for you! Finding and using an effective study technique allows you to feel confident in knowing your material, which can help reduce any stress you are facing with the exam or test. Study techniques can include study groups or having a study buddy, quizzing yourself, creating flashcards, creating a study guide, talking to your professor if you need anything clarified, teaching others the information you retain, taking practice tests, rewriting notes, etc. 
  9. Seek help when needed: If, at any time during your university experience, the stress you are facing becomes too overwhelming to deal with by yourself, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Your university will likely have resources or mental health counselling services you can access, or you may seek professional help. At Insight Psychological, we have various therapists and psychologists who can provide guidance and support during your university experience and beyond. Book online!

There are so many different things that a student has to deal with during their university years, which can naturally cause them stress. It is inevitable that a student will likely face stress during their time at university, but as this blog post shows, there are many strategies people can use to deal with it. Remember, every individual is unique, so one thing that may work for one person to reduce stress may not work for another, so it is important to find the strategies that work best for you. Be sure to take the time to experiment with different stress management strategies during your university life! 


Ellet, G. (2016). The Pomodoro Technique: Study more efficiently, take more breaks. The University of British Columbia. https://learningcommons.ubc.ca/the-pomodoro-technique-study-more-efficiently-take-more-breaks/

HelpGuide.org. (2023). Social support for stress relief. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/social-support-for-stress-relief.htm#:~:text=Research%20shows%20that%20people%20with,physiological%20response%20to%20life’s%20stressors.

Hall, J. (2019). 12 tips to manage stress for college students. Timelycare. https://timelycare.com/blog/stress-management-tips-for-college-students/