Coping with College Stress & Pressure: How to Encourage & Care For Yourself

High school can be stressful enough. Starting in your junior year, you begin performing quite the juggling act. On one hand, you have to take and ace the “right” courses and college placement tests. And don’t forget the extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, peer pressure is at its peak. You want to fit in, go on dates, play sports, and have teenage fun.

Just as all of that (and more) begins to wrap up, you have to start preparing for college. Toss in Covid, lockdowns, and all related factors, and the difficulty level increases even more. Through it all, however, you can cope and thrive.

What Causes College Stress & Pressure?

Big Transitions

For many students, college means moving away from your home. This is exciting in many ways. It’s daunting in many others. Pitfalls to watch for include:

  • Loneliness
  • Far more responsibility and accountability
  • New environment, new friends, new schedule
  • Time management


College is expensive. There’s the tuition, of course. But you also have to balance spending for books, meals, and daily expenditures.

Social Life

Your social circle has expanded — big time. Suddenly, you’re living with at least one stranger. You want to make new and trustworthy friends. You also probably want to date.

Academic Life

The odds are your college classes will be more challenging than anything you’ve previously faced. That all-important GPA looms large and the pressure can grow. By year two, you’ll already be expected to conjure up practical post-graduation plans.

It should not be too difficult to grasp how all of the above can impact your mental and physical health. Therefore, the goal to aim for is balance. College is college and there will be some factors you just have to navigate. That said, this process runs a whole lot smoother when you take steps to encourage and care for yourself.

6 Ways to Encourage & Care For Yourself in College

1. Guard Your Sleep

Nothing can short-circuit college success like lack of sleep. It may not be the “coolest” choice but find ways to create regular patterns.

2. Make Healthy Eating Choices

The body cannot live on pizza and ramen alone. Consider cooking for yourself. Get tips from nutrition experts. Don’t hesitate to get advice from good ol’ Mom.

3. Engage in Daily Exercise and Physical Activity

Slouched over at your desk in front of a computer is a recipe for disaster. Make time to exercise, play sports, take walks, etc.

4. Practice Stress Management

Stress is inevitable. Being overwhelmed by stress is not. Look into relaxation techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, music, mantras, affirmations, and more.

5. Get Organized

Guess what? Once you graduate, you will continue to need structure in your life. Start now. You can use apps to help keep you on schedule.

6. Schedule Some FUN Social Time

All work is not the answer. Consciously schedule fun plans. This isn’t an invitation to ignore your responsibilities. Rather, once again, it’s all about balance. Reward yourself for putting in the effort. Make time to laugh, play, dance, and flirt.

Reach Out to Your Resources

Every college will have official resources for any student who feels overmatched. There is no shame or stigma in using them. Ask for help. You will learn valuable skills that will guide you for the rest of your life. When “overwhelmed” becomes your default setting, counseling may be required.

Talking to an experienced mental health professional is a powerful step toward de-stressing. College requires new perspectives and approaches. Your weekly therapy sessions can help you discover these tools. If you feel unable to find balance, reach out today to set up a free and confidential consultation.

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