3 min read
min read
May 12, 2024

10 Ways to Effectively Manage Your Stress at University

10 Ways to Effectively Manage Your Stress at University

Table of contents


The transition to university is a big life milestone. But it’s also a big shift — in your environment, social life, and the academic work you’re expected to produce. This can lead to stress that impacts your mental and physical health. But by planning well and building healthy habits, you can manage your stress for a happier university experience. 

I spent years working with young people in education, helping them prepare for important assessments and exams. I also completed my own studies at Oxford University, so I know a thing or two about managing stress. Read on for my top stress management techniques for students.

What are some common reasons for stress in college students? 

According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of American students feel stressed sometimes or often. But understanding the root causes of your stress can help you address and lower it. We look at the most common below:

1. Academic pressure

The pressure to achieve a certain result or Grade Point Average (GPA) while tackling more complex assignments and assessments can become a significant source of stress at university.

2. Financial pressure

You might be managing your finances on your own for the first time. From university fees to food and accommodation, plus textbooks and social life, there are a lot of expenses to cover. And if you’re one of the 40% of full-time students who has a part-time job to make ends meet, it can create further pressure. 

3. New relationships

Being plunged into a new social world at university can be difficult, especially without the structure and support of family life or school to help you. Not everyone makes friends quickly, and extra stress can come from disagreements or romantic problems, too.

4. Busy schedule

Juggling your academic work (and deadlines), classes and lectures, extracurricular activities, social life, part-time work, and other life commitments can also create stress for many.

5. Planning for the future

Uncertainty over your future might also be causing you anxiety. University goes by quickly, so you’ll soon find yourself looking for a career, trying to find an internship, preparing for interviews, or thinking about graduate school. 

10 stress management techniques for students 

The good news is that you can reduce your stress once you know what’s causing it. Here are my top ten tips for getting it in hand.

1. Time management

When you have lots of commitments to juggle, it’s essential to build effective time management habits. First, draw up a list of the tasks you need to do, then order them by priority (considering how urgent they are, i.e. the deadline, and how important they are). 

Estimate how long each task will take, then create a schedule, working backward from deadlines so you have plenty of time to finish. Set reminders on your calendar or to-do app to nudge you when the deadlines are approaching.

Break individual tasks into manageable chunks, and consider using a method like the Pomodoro Technique to balance focused work with regular breaks. With this method, you concentrate fully for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. After four blocks of focus, you take a longer break of 15-20 minutes to refresh your brain.

2. Realistic expectations

Remember that you’re only a human being. Yes, studies are important, but punishing yourself in the name of perfection can lead to undue anxiety. Celebrate even small achievements (like trying a new hobby, finishing a book, or going for a run) and give yourself grace when things go wrong — every mistake can be a learning experience. And when you set your goals, make sure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) to make them easier to work towards.

Be careful not to take on too many commitments and get comfortable saying “no” to preserve your personal space. Although this can be hard, you can try offering an alternative (“I can’t do that but I can do this”) or ask for more time to consider (“I’ll think about it”) if it’s too stressful to reply right away. 

3. Use AI to support your studies

AI technology can save you a lot of time and energy. Wordtune’s tools are a great example. You can quickly summarize articles to drastically cut your reading time, and perform a “semantic search” which allows you to focus that summary on your topic of choice.

This can free up much-needed time from your schedule and allow you to understand where to do deeper reading without wading through whole texts.

Summarized text: Motherhood in African Literature and Culture by Remi Akujobi, Covenant University

Wordtune can also help you proofread your assignments in moments, taking the stress out of those final checks on your essays. 

4. Financial planning and budgeting

To address financial stress, draw up a realistic budget and stick to it. Start by noting all your major, unavoidable expenses, like university fees, rent, bills, and food. Then work out what you’re spending on the fun stuff, including going out with friends and extracurricular activities. 

Roughly speaking, you want to allot about 50% of your money to necessities, 20% to savings, and 30% to fun extras. You can use an app to quickly and easily capture and categorize your spending, as well as set up notifications if you’re going to break your budget.

5. Schedule relaxation

Make sure you build in time to your schedule for relaxation. It could be a walk or time in nature, or a yoga or meditation class. Committing yourself to an organized session can ensure you make space and time for a proper break, so check if your university offers any classes or if there’s a local studio you could attend. 

You can also practice these techniques at home, using free resources like Yoga with Adriene or a paid app like Headspace (which offers a student discount). Even in small doses, they can make a big difference by helping to calm your nervous system. 

6. Physical activity

Another important element of stress management is keeping up your physical activity. Exercise can reduce your stress hormones while increasing endorphins, which naturally lift your mood. Try to find a form of exercise you enjoy, whether that’s a jog in the park, a dance class, a visit to the gym or pool, or joining a sports team. Finding a social form of exercise can also help you build new networks.

7. Healthy diet

When you’re a busy, cash-strapped student, it can be easy to let healthy eating habits slip. But existing on ramen noodles isn’t great for your well-being. To keep your brain and body in top condition, eat balanced meals with fresh fruit and vegetables as well as good-quality protein. 

Building this cost into your budget and scheduling time to cook can help you hit this important goal. Not sure where to start? Download a recipe app like Cookpad or visit a food blog like Epicurious for inspiration and instructions. 

If you’ve got the budget, you could even try a meal kit, which delivers the ingredients you need for each dish, along with the recipe. Home Chef, Hello Fresh, and Dinnerly are just three of many examples. You can even order ready-meals to heat up through companies like Factor, although these can be pricier.

8. Build networks

Find opportunities to talk to new people – in your class, in your dorm, or during social activities. A simple question like, “Do you know what time the coffee shop opens?” can give you an opening to discuss other great places on campus – and maybe arrange to meet there one day. Or ask if someone wants to buddy up for study sessions or try a new activity with you. Lots of people will also be looking for friends.

9. Get support

If you’re struggling, reach out to your teachers, your university’s support team, or your network of friends and family. Not only will it lower your stress to speak to someone but you might also be able to access further help. 

For example, if you’re stressed out about writing an essay, you might be able to get extra academic tuition or a link to useful resources from a teacher or supervisor. If finances are the issue, your university might be able to provide hardship support. 

Many universities will have a welfare or counseling team, too, who can provide mental health support. You can also talk to your doctor or university health service. If you can’t access free help, counseling apps like Better Health can link you to professional services.

10. Plan for the future

An uncertain future can be a big source of stress, so making a plan can help you feel more in control. That can be high level, like making a vision board with pictures of what’s important to you and what you want your future life to look like (getting coffee in the big city or spending your days in nature). Or you might make a list of what you’re looking for in a job. 

You could also try researching the exact skills you need to demonstrate in a role by reading a range of job adverts. Then, consider how you can fill any gaps in your current skillset.

Use your university’s careers service to the full, including any online resources, chances to speak with a counselor, or job boards. Also, take advantage of any workshops they might host, such as how to prepare your resume or succeed in job interviews.

You don’t need to have your whole future mapped out by the time you graduate, but having some ideas of your next steps can make you feel less anxious about it.


It’s common to feel stressed at university, especially about finances, studies, and social life. But by managing your time, making a budget, building healthy habits, and planning ahead, you can significantly lower your stress. Making use of support from your university or wider network and using technology can also help you manage.

The Wordtune blog has lots of tips to help you with your studies and lower your stress. For example, learn how to use AI to write a fantastic literature review or save time on research. Plus, check out our list of top study apps to boost your productivity using technology.


What causes stress for students?

Packed timetables, academic pressure, dealing with a new social scene, and meeting financial commitments are all causes of stress for university students.

How can I overcome stress as a student?

To manage stress at university, plan your time carefully, create a budget, use technology to save time and effort, schedule relaxation, maintain healthy exercise and dietary habits, and reach out for support.

How can AI help students at university manage stress?

AI tools can help save you significant time and effort when reading long texts and writing assignments. For example, you can use a tool like Wordtune to summarize texts and help you proofread and polish your writing.