Stress is affecting teens more than ever before. Around 30% of teens admitted to feeling sad or depressed because of stress and 42% said they’re not doing enough when it comes to managing stress levels. If you’re in college, you’re not only juggling school work, but you might also be working part-time and trying to make important choices about your future. 

So what can you do to navigate these pivotal years?

You’ve come to the right place for help. Keep reading to learn tips on how to manage stress in college so you can focus on your work, graduate on time, and fully enjoy all that the college experience has to offer.  

Get More Sleep

Sure, college is a time for forming meaningful, lifelong friendships and staying out late, but sleep should also be a priority. That’s because sleep and stress go hand in hand. The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to be stressed. And, the more stressed you are, the harder it will be to get enough sleep.

While you don’t have to turn down every party invitation by any means, try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night for the best results. If you struggle to get enough sleep, try setting a sleep schedule for yourself by aiming to go to bed at the same time each night. 

As you wind down, limit your screen time, as blue light can make it harder to fall asleep. You might also find that taking melatonin, a supplement of a hormone your body makes can help you get more restful sleep as well. Avoid taking sleeping pills, which can become habit-forming.

Prioritize Exercise

If you played sports growing up, you were probably active without even realizing it. Now that you’re in college, unless you’re an athlete, you may not be moving as much as you were used to. 

Exercising is a great outlet for stress, as it can help improve your overall mood and help you feel like the best version of yourself. Try to find a form of exercise that you enjoy that fits around your busy schedule, like running or yoga. 

If you struggle to find the time to exercise, remember that a little goes a long way. Even just taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help you move a bit more to aid in stress relief. 

Eat a Healthy Diet

It’s natural to indulge in delicious foods when you first get to college, but over time, eating only pizza and ice cream will only leave you feeling groggy and tired. Instead, make sure you get a balanced diet of whole grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables, with the occasional indulgence. 

Since dealing with stress can impact your immune system, make sure you eat immune-boosting foods like citrus, blueberries, and broccoli to help you feel your best and reduce the risk of illness. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

College is an exciting time and you never want to feel like you’re missing out on experiences. However, if you’re not careful, you can have a full social calendar on top of your school work and job commitments. Over time, this can lead to high stress levels and burnout. 

Instead, be thoughtful about what you want to do and prioritize that over everything else. Instead of going to every social gathering, take time to make connections with the friends you care the most about. 

However, this doesn’t just apply to social activities. It’s ok to say no to other things too. Don’t feel pressured to take that extra course if you think it might make your work suffer in other classes. And don’t feel like you need to join every single study group. Do what you can and say no to the rest. 

Practice Mindfulness Through Meditation and Breathwork

One of the best stress management tips you can do is making time to be mindful each day. Take the time to meditate, even for just 5 to 10 minutes each day to help clear your mind and let the stress melt away. 

If you’re not sure how to begin meditating, look for online videos that guide you through a mindfulness session. There are also apps available that can help you combat specific aspects of stress through guided sessions. 

You can also try breathing exercises to help you stay calm when you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious. Sometimes doing nothing else but focusing on your breath is just what you need to refocus. By incorporating this into your daily routine, even just for a few minutes each night before you go to sleep, you’ll start to notice a difference. 


Between taking online classes, working on school work, and connecting with friends, increased screentime is an inevitability for college students. That’s why it’s so important to take time to unplug occasionally. 

Reducing screentime can help you feel less stressed, so be mindful about how much time you’re spending on your phone, tablet, or computer. Most phones have a feature that tells you how much time you spend using them, and some have options where you can limit how much time you spend on certain apps. 

Remember that everything online will still be there when you come back, so there’s no need to spend every minute glued to a screen. 

Now You Know How to Manage Stress in College

After reading through these tips, we hope you have a better idea of how to manage stress in college so you can stay focused. As you start to feel the tension building in your shoulders, take a step back, remember these ideas, and take the time to practice stress management. Your body and your mind deserve it!

Learn even more about why it’s important to prioritize your physical and mental health by checking out this post