The Easiest and Quickest Ways to Reduce College Stress

How often do you find yourself saying, “I’m so stressed”? If it happens all day long, you’re not alone.

Everyone agrees that college is stressful, especially during exams. That’s not going to change. And “being stressed” has become a way of life in college.

What do you do when you’re in class taking notes, and all of a sudden you feel your heart racing and sweat forming on your forehead? Or maybe you’re in the library reading and you don’t remember what you read for the last hour? What if you’re in the dining hall with your friends, someone asks you a question, and you don’t hear them because you’re thinking about the exam you have in the morning?

When stress starts to take over your college life, you need to know what to do. You need some quick and easy techniques to bring yourself back to feeling in control.

So, here, they are. Four super easy and quick ways to calm yourself down. Try them out and see what works for you in different situations:

Number one: BREATHE. Yes, when you are stressed you tend to breathe rapidly and shallowly. That type of breathing causes more anxiety. Instead, take some slow deep breaths, filling your abdomen with air. Breathe in through your nose to a count of 5. Hold your breath for 2 counts. Then push the air out through your mouth to a count of 5. Hold for 2 counts before breathing in again through your nose. Repeat the pattern 3 to 5 times. You should feel your stress melt away.

Number two: POSITIVE THINKING. Stress makes you a pessimist. When you feel stressed, there’s a good chance you’re focused on all your problems, on everything that could go wrong, or on how unfair your life is. Pay attention when you start thinking these negative thoughts. Just because these are your thoughts, doesn’t mean you are right, objectively speaking. You need to break the pattern of looking at situations from a negative point of view. Instead, turn your thoughts around, find whatever is positive in the situation, and focus on that. Stress will vanish when you become more upbeat.

Here’s an example: If you go back to your dorm after class and find that your roommate left a mess, your current reaction may be anger, accompanied by tension and stress in your body. Instead, use the messy room as a chance to have the conversation you’ve been putting off. Let your roommate know that you aren’t going to clean up after them anymore and that they need to share in keeping things neat. The optimistic person finds the opportunity in the messy situation!

Number three: TAKE A BREAK. Do you sometimes find yourself sitting in the library for hours feeling stressed because you’re not getting enough done? That’s a common feeling. You may think that the best way to prepare for an exam or write a paper is to sit in one place for hours until you finish. Actually, that’s not true. Studies show that taking regular breaks and even changing your environment will increase your productivity. So, leave the library, take a walk, and get some fresh air. Get a snack, and talk to a friend. Take your books and find another spot to work. You will see that the break and/or change in scenery will refresh you, and you will be more focused and less stressed.

Number four: MINDFULNESS. What is mindfulness? It’s simply bringing your attention to what’s happening in the present moment. When you’re stressed you’re usually worrying about what you need to do in the future. You aren’t being present. To break that kind of stress, make yourself pay attention to what’s happening around you in the present. You can use your senses to help you focus on the present.

Here’s one method that works well: First, look around and name 5 things that you see. Second, touch and name 4 things you touched from where you are sitting or standing. Third, listen and name 3 things that you hear. Fourth, name 2 things that you smell. Fifth, name 1 thing that you taste. After using all of your senses you should feel more connected to the present moment and less stressed.

Will you remember these 4 easy and quick strategies for calming down and reducing stress? Here’s a mnemonic to help you out: BPTM….which stands for Be Prepared This Month (Breathe, Positive thinking, Take a break, Mindfulness) You can do it!

Good luck!

1. Always Tired

Determine why your child is tired.

  • Is it because they aren’t getting enough sleep?
  • Are they mismanaging their time and getting to bed very late? 
  • Are they too stressed to fall asleep? 
  • Have they been partying late into the night?

2. Weight Gain or Loss

Find out where, when, and what your child has been eating. 

  • Are they making unhealthy choices or eating late at night?
  • Have they been doing any kind of exercise? 
  • Are they becoming too concerned with their body image?

3. Missing classes

Identify the reason your child is missing classes.

  • Have they been too tired to wake up on time?
  • Are they not prepared for the class?
  • Did they decide the class is boring and not worth their time? 

4. Not Communicating

Determine why you are not hearing from your child.

Are they so busy and engaged in their college life that they aren’t thinking about home?
​Could they be avoiding talking to you because things aren’t going well? 

​Have you established a plan for regular communication with them?

5. Poor Grades

Find out what is causing your child to have poor grades.

  • Are they studying and trying their best?
    ​Could the courses be too difficult? 
  • ​Does your child prioritize studying and academics, or social life? 
  • ​Is your child overwhelmed by college life and unable to focus on academics?

6. Change in Mood

Identify why your child ‘s moods have been noticeably different from what had been true in the past.

  • Is there something in the college environment that is causing their mood change?
  • ​Does your child seem happy or unhappy?
  • ​Is your child stressed, anxious, or in control?  


7. Social Isolation

Determine why your child has become isolated from other students.

  • Does your child feel overwhelmed and need some alone time?
  • Has your child decided he or she doesn’t fit in?
  • Was there some incident that caused your child to choose isolation?


8. Frequently Sick

Figure out why your child has been sick so often.

  • Are they not getting enough sleep?
  • ​Have they been spending time with students who are sick?
  • ​Did they see a doctor on campus for an exam?
  • ​Should they be eating healthier or taking vitamins?


What should a parent do?

If your child is exhibiting a number of the signs listed above, you will want to discover what these signs really mean by speaking with your child to determine if he or she would benefit from additional support.
Many parents find it difficult to get their children to be totally open about what is actually happening at college. If this is your situation, it is important to enlist a trusted adult to have those conversations.
I often serve in that role for parents. As a health coach, I specialize in helping college students manage stress so they can have a successful and enjoyable college experience.

My role is one of support and accountability. I become your student’s cheerleader and mentor –giving you peace of mind knowing your child has someone focusing solely on their health and well being
To speak with me privately about your son or daughter and explore how I can support you.

You can also reach me by email at:
By text or phone at: 203-912-8078

I look forward to speaking with you soon!