Stress Relief Activities for College Students

stress relief activities for college students

It's not uncommon for students to experience high levels of stress in college. If ignored, high-stress levels can have a negative impact on your body and mind over time, which can result in debilitating issues.

While a little stress can actually be a powerful motivator, too much stress will have the reverse effect.

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Today, we're taking a closer look at a few stress relief activities for college students so you know how to manage stress and stay focused.

Stress Relief Activities for College Students

Students will feel stress at some point during their college years. There are a few common causes of stress in college students, including everything from academic responsibilities and social pressures to financial troubles and family-related issues.

Stress can even begin before a student enters college and will most likely continue into the “real world” after graduation. If you were to ask anyone, in college or not, they are likely to say they experience stress daily.

However, just because you experience stress, that doesn’t mean you have to let it get the best of you. In fact, you can still be extremely successful and encounter stress, even in college.

To reach this level of success, it is important you participate in stress relief activities. In college, the best stress management techniques are listed below.

Get Your Sleep On

Sleep is not just something you do when you’re tired. Sleep is essential to help your body repair and prepare you for stressors you encounter each day. Getting good sleep is the key. This means falling asleep in a healthy routine. Turn the lights and electronics off so the room is dark and quiet.

It means sleeping for a significant number of uninterrupted hours. College students often get less than five hours of sleep. This is not enough. Seven to eight hours is more desirable for combatting stressors.

This will also help you avoid dependence on caffeine.

Avoid Fake Energy

Fake energy comes in a coffee cup, a soda bottle or supplements that promise to keep you awake for hours. While these products may give you a tiny boost of energy in the beginning, it doesn’t last. Over time, you will build a tolerance and find yourself needing more and more of the fake stuff to get you through the day.

You can become addicted and when you try to stop using it, withdrawals will be painful.

Manage Your Time

One cause of stress for college students is totally preventable. Stress is caused by being disorganized and by not having a plan.  When you plan your days, from start to finish, you do not have to worry about how or when you will get things done.

Managing your time means keeping a calendar and scheduling all your activities for the day, week and entire semester. Designate times to study, eat, exercise and even have fun.

Get the Right Support

Students can feel stressed when they feel they are alone in their battle to succeed. Students feel the weight of assignments, financial burdens, family responsibilities and peer pressure, to name a few. Trying to battle all these by yourself is impossible and can feel overwhelming.

You do not have to feel alone. College campuses are loaded with opportunities for support. And they are also connected to agencies who provide specific support services to college students.

Individual counseling, support groups, residential living, peer mentoring and life coaching are just a few support services from which you can benefit on campus.

Have the Right Kind of Fun

College should not be all work and no play. What kind of college experience would that be? Instead, participate in the right kind of fun activities, healthy activities, that will not interfere with reaching your goals.

The right kind of fun means hanging with friends who do not drink and use drugs. There are many sober students and sober student groups who have figured out how to have fun and live a sustainable lifestyle without compromising their goals.

Create a Vision Board

Sometimes you may feel stressed in college because you don’t have a clear path for your future. You can change this by creating a vision board. A vision board is simply the dreams and desires you have for yourself, including personal and professional goals.

To create a vision board, cut, draw or paint pictures of the things you want in your future. There are no limits. You can put anything from jobs to marriage to awards on your board.

Once created, hang it in your dorm room. Looking at your vision board every day reminds you of why you are in college, making some of your stress worth it in the end.

Stay Physically Active

By now, you have likely heard all the advantages of exercise and staying physically active. It boosts stress-relieving chemicals in the brain, helps you keep your weight manageable, and has a myriad of other benefits.

Staying physically active does not mean you must run a marathon each day. Instead, choose activities you enjoy and that don’t feel like exercise at all.

Inhale Oxygen

Inhaling oxygen is just another way to tell you to breathe. Sometimes you get so caught up in the enormous workload that you forget to breathe properly. But oxygen getting to our brain and major organs can help relieve stress.

Finding ways to incorporate breathing techniques into your day can be fun. You can meditate just about anywhere on campus. You can lay in your bed an extra ten minutes each morning instead of rushing to get ready. You can even take a friend to a yoga class.

The point is, learn to breathe so that you are benefiting your body. Also, learn to chill.

Chill Out

This may sound obvious, but not all stress relief activities for college students require physical activity. Sometimes, you just need to relax. Sometimes relaxing can be hard to do when you are loaded with multiple responsibilities.

Finding time to relax can improve both mental and physical health. And you can find activities that take less than an hour to help you chill out. Consider what you find relaxing and set aside some time for yourself to relax.

Decompressing may seem difficult when you're faced with a busy schedule, papers to write, and material to study, but it's of the utmost importance when you face the many challenges in college. Sending a little time chilling out can make all the difference in your mental health, which can help you tackle difficult projects with a balanced and rested mindset.

If you get a massage from students at a training center, you can likely get a discount too. You may also want to pursue acupressure and acupuncture. Let go of the things that are out of your control. Engage in spiritual activities.

Watch a movie that doesn’t require much thinking. Find ways to laugh and allow yourself to make mistakes without beating yourself up.


Now that you have discovered a few stress relief activities for college students, you can try a couple out and see how you like them. Over time, you will discover which stress relief activities work best for you.

While some people might enjoy reading in the park, others might enjoy exercising or participating in some type of social event. There's no right or wrong way to relax, so keep an open mind and explore your options.

These tips for stress relief do work, especially seeking help from on-campus counseling and student support groups. You can limit stress while succeeding as a college student.

Photo by Godisable Jacob