How to Manage Stress in College

At one point or another, everyone faces stress. However, in college, stress is all too common and can overwhelm many students daily. Finals, relationships, and finances can all be giant stressors that seem like too much too face at once.

Image Credit: WordPress

Author: Natalee Wheeler

What is stress?

Stress is defined as, “a condition that results when person-environment interaction leads someone to perceive a painful discrepancy (real or imagined) between the demands of a situation and their social, biological  or psychological resources.” Basically, stress is physical, mental, or emotional strain/tension caused by a variety of situations.

Is all stress bad for you?

No! A small amount of stress is necessary to keep you motivated and help you accomplish tasks and goals. However, if exposed to stress for long and consistent periods of time, your health can be negatively impacted.

Symptoms of Chronic Stress

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Muscle tension & aches
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Loss of energy
  • Mood changes

Common Sources of Stress (Stressors) in College

  • Homework and class responsibilities
  • Work, career, job
  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Poor nutrition
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Time
  • Social stress (roommate conflict, peer pressure, etc.)
  • Body Image, weight, eating disorders
  • Family
college meme about the drowning feeling of getting degree, part time job, eating healthy and applying for internships

Stress Management

So, what are some ways to reduce stress and manage feelings of overwhelming stress?

Relaxation Techniques


A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.


Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.

Four Basic Elements:

  • A quiet location with no-few distractions
  • A comfortable posture such as laying or sitting down
  • A focus of attention
  • An open and non-judgmental attitude

Meditation has been shown to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as helping people with sleep disorders such as insomnia. There is also some research that shows it may help lower pain and lower blood pressure.

Body Scan

A body scan is a practice of identifying what you are feeling and where in your body you are carrying certain emotions and stress. Body scans can help relieve tension and stress levels.

Image result for body scan meditation

Resources at MSU

Counseling and Psychological Services

Services: Individual, couples, and group counseling is available at CPS for MSU students. If you need to talk to someone about your stressors, time management, and how to practice more mindfulness, give CPS a call to set up an appointment. Services are free for MSU students.

Location: 2nd Floor Swingle Building, East of the SUB

Telephone: (406) 994-4531

The Office of Health Advancement:

Wellness Coaching:

Services: At OHA, there are several wellness coaches who are able to meet one-on-one with you to discuss your goals, help you cope with stress, improve time management, and overall improve your wellness! The Office of Health Advancement also holds several De-Stress events throughout the year that are available to students.

Location: 1102/1106 S. 6th Ave., Bozeman, MT

Telephone: (406) 994-4380

Paws to De-Stress:

About: During dead week and finals week of every semester, the MSU library holds a Paws to De-stress event where they invite therapy dogs to campus so students can pet them. Check out for more details.

Want to learn more? Check out these awesome websites and our article about stress during finals week to get some more info!

National Institute of Mental Health:

American Institute of Stress:



Stress to Strength:

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