How to Cope With Stress at School

Three Parts:Making Studying Stress-FreeEliminating StressTaking Care of Your Mental Health

The school year can be hard on anyone. Academic stress can build upon self-esteem issues, your family, friends and even yourself. When not taken care of, your performance suffers, your morale suffers, and life just suffers. Instead of being on the brink of a constant freak out, grab life by the horns and get to relaxing. It may be easier than you think.

Part 1
Making Studying Stress-Free

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    Learn to manage your time more efficiently. With piles and piles of homework staring at you, sometimes being told to "calm down" or "relax" seems like a big joke. To cut through the heap of work you have to do and to make it seem more manageable, start planning out your time accordingly. Conquer a little bit every night so you're never left with a tower of work to climb by tomorrow.
    • Start with the hardest things first. You don't have to finish the entire task now, but just getting the ball rolling will make it seem so much more manageable when you go to finish it in a few days.[1]
    • Take little opportunities to get work done. If you're waiting for the bus, whip out those flashcards. When you go to review tonight, that 5 or 10 minutes of prep will help you finish that much sooner.
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    Get organized. If your locker looks like a tornado blew through it, or your study desk at home is really just a horizontal closet without hangers, it's no wonder school stresses you out. It's just too hard to figure out what you have to do, much less do it. So take 15 minutes to put everything where it needs to be and organize it so you remember. When you don't spend all night searching for your syllabus, you can concentrate on the actually important stuff.
    • Everything you need should always be within arm's reach, not everything you have. If you never use white out, it doesn't need a prominent place on your desk. If you always use highlighters, make sure they're in your top drawer. Be logical about the importance of the materials you're using. If you don't need 'em, don't let 'em clutter your studying area (and your brain).
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    Study earlier. Compared to just about everything else, studying is a drag. And who wants to study after school, which was essentially hours and hours of studying, just not at home? However, if you get it over with, you'll be much happier in the long run. Instead of it already being 9 PM and you haven't to stay up late, you've gotten it over with and can relax with some TV and Candy Crush.
    • Your brain will probably be less tired, too. The information will be fresh in your mind from school that day and you'll still be wide awake since it's only 5 PM. This means studying will be more effective, which could reflect in more effortless, better grades.
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    Divide everything into chunks to make it more manageable. If you have a 200-point presentation on Romeo and Juliet due in two weeks, you'll probably busy resisting the urge to run for the hills. Instead of focusing on the entire thing, break it up. Spend one day making an outline, finding natural divisions where you can break the task up. Spend the next making your poster. Then tackle writing your interstellar space version of Act I one day, Act II the next, etc. It's not one giant project – it's a whole bunch of little, manageable ones.
    • This goes for time, too. Don't study for 3 hours for European History on Thursday – study for 30 minutes each night all week. If you try to attack too much at one time, your brain will just sort of shut down, the information won't be as effectively processed, and your morale will be worn out to boot.
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    Don't procrastinate. All of the above steps have a common element: not procrastinating. Think about it this way: if you had to lose 20 pounds, and you had one month to do it, would you want to wait until the last few days to start dieting? Nope. That's a recipe for disaster. Think of your grades the same way – you can't put tasks off and expect good results and peace of mind.
    • The sooner you're on top of your game, the more you can breathe. You'll feel in control, and that's really what stress is about. Whether you have a million things to do or just a few things to do, it's feeling in control that's the kicker. And if you don't procrastinate and hop to it, that sense of control will be a lot easier to get a hold of.
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    Stay realistic. Let's be honest: kids in school are getting more and more stressed at an earlier and earlier age.[2] They're worrying about college in grade school, in addition to trying to be a rock star at virtually everything. When it all starts stressing you out, take a breather. Maybe you won't get into Oxford. Maybe you won't be football captain. Maybe you will get an A- this semester. And life will go on. It's school – not the Hunger Games.
    • If you're trying to do it all, you may need to take a step back and abandon an extra-curricular or two. School is hard enough as it is – you can't be an athlete, a musician, an ambassador, a volunteer, and a thespian on top of it. What's one thing you could live without? The extra free time may make everything else that much easier.

Part 2
Eliminating Stress

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    Evaluate the source. Stress at school can come from a number of different places. Here's a few things to consider:
    • Peer-induced stress. This is when stress comes from your classmates. It could be because you feel they're outperforming you, you feel you're just different from them and won't be accepted, or even because they're bullies.
    • Parent-induced stress. This happens when your parents don't make reasonable demands of you and your academic performance. They are constantly harping on you to get better grades and be an ideal student.
    • Teacher-induced stress. This occurs when you don't jive with a specific teacher, or when you feel like your teachers are disapproving. Hopefully this only occurs with one teacher, but it could occur with many.
    • Self-induced stress. This kind of stress comes from the inside. You've put demands on yourself to try to be "good enough" or "valuable" in your own mind. This can be one of the easiest and hardest types of stress to tackle.
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    Get rid of the source (as much as possible). Taking those four sources listed above, what do you do to make them better?
    • Peer-induced stress. In this situation, you could try to change classes or pick up a different after-school activity with different people. Worst case scenario, you could change schools.
    • Parent-induced stress. This involves a very honest conversation with your parents that could possibly also involve your teachers or school counselor. Communication needs to be established between the two of you that doesn't make you feel negative – and they need to know that that's how their view makes you feel.
    • Self-induced stress. This involves a change of thinking. It's easy because you're in control, but it's difficult because mind-control isn't exactly easy as pie. You have to make a conscious effort to think more positively and more globally, realizing that the world is much bigger than your performance at school.
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    Talk to your counselor. If school is getting to you and you feel about an inch away from pulling out all your hair, your school counselor may be a natural source of good advice. What's more, he or she may be able to point you in a new direction, giving you opportunities for destressing that you didn't even know existed (like taking a class online, or getting credit for volunteering). They can also be the go-between for you and your parents or teachers.
    • If you don't have a relationship with your school counselor already, there's no better time than the present. They're there to help you – and they could even be a network connection for schools in the future.
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    Start thinking positively. Sure, it's easier said than done – but once you do it, you'll never go back. A positive mindset can keep stress at bay, making even the most difficult (or the most boring) of tasks seem okay. After all, you have so much going for you, and life is going to be awesome once this pile of homework is done (and eventually, it will be). With a new, fresh outlook on life, nothing can stop you.
    • If this is particularly difficult for you, start trying to be positive in just 10 minute increments. When you wake up in the morning, think of a few things you're excited about and grateful for to put you in an upbeat mood. In time, this will become a habit and be virtually effortless.
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    Spend time doing something you love. Everyone needs a passion to keep their inner fire burning strong. We all need something that makes us happy. If life is all work on no play, you'll be on a one-way ride to misery and self-resentment. So make whatever it is you love a priority. When what you love is a part of your life, everything else that's stressful can just fall into the background.
    • Don't feel guilty about it, either. Paul Allen, Michael Dell, Bill Gates – none of them graduated from college and they turned out pretty okay.[3] Your performance in school isn't the end-all-be-all of your life, so don't devote 24/7 to it. Spend your best years enjoying them, not resenting them.

Part 3
Taking Care of Your Mental Health

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    Keep a routine. Do your brain a favor and stick to the same routine every school day. Get home, grab a snack, sit down to study, take a Facebook break, sit down to study some more, and then go party like it's the weekend. When you have a plan to stick to, it's easier to relax. There's no longer the question of, "When am I going to study for this?" or, "When do I have time for that?" With a routine, you'll know exactly how your time fits together.
    • Humans, in general, like to know what to expect. It's why we turn to others for their opinions and recommendations. It allows our brains to relax and calm down, accepting the fact that we can only take in so much information at a time. If you give yourself a routine to stick to, your brain will be able to quit being on high alert and take a mental breather.
    • Keeping a schedule can help you tackle one hurdle at a time, and as a result, feel more in control. Get a schedule from a supply store or make one yourself and hang it up in your room. Write down everything you need to do in order not to miss deadlines – and this way you can let it leave your brain; you've got it down on paper!
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    Get enough sleep. Students should at least sleep 7 to 8 hours a day to make it easier for them to cope with stressful situations, and some even need around 9 hours a day to function at 100%. Not only will this help with you staying alert, focusing, and likely getting better grades, but it will also result in you being less stressed-out, less irritable, and not as tense.
    • Research shows that not getting enough sleep isn't just about being tired. It also leads to memory problems, decreased alertness and performance, a poorer quality of life, and even makes you prone to injury.[4]
    • If you want good grades, you need sleep. Resist the urge to cram – it won't do you any good. Studies show that students who cram actually do worse than students who opted for sleep instead. Your memory of the night before won't work anyway when you're a zombie during the test.[5]
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    Exercise regularly. Exercising at least 30 minutes a day can help alleviate stress, tension, and boost confidence.[6] It releases endorphins – those little happy-makers in your brain that keep you feeling good. So get on the treadmill, lift some weights, or just dance it out. Sometimes your mind takes cues from your body, and this is definitely one of those moments.
    • This is a good excuse to do those more mundane chores, too. Offer to take Fluffy for a walk, wash your dad's car, or get to meticulously scrubbing the tub. Even little sessions of calorie-burning are helpful – and you may be able to make a buck off your parents while doing it.
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    Set aside time for relaxation. Everyone needs free time to do things that make them happy and keep them stress-free. If you're going, going, going 24 hours a day, you're going to burn out. After a studying session, make sure you spend some time making yourself feel good: listen to relaxing music, take a long bath, watch a romantic movie, do yoga, or meditate. Relaxing for at least an hour per day can help you get rid of that stress building up inside.
    • It doesn't have to be something stereotypically "relaxing." If playing an intense, zombie-destroying video game helps you relax, do that. If reading a chilling horror novel gets you in the zen zone, do that. If you enjoy it and it makes you less tense, what's not to like?
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    Make time for fun, too. Take a step back and remember to have fun with friends. Without socialization, it's easy to go a little crazy. If you don't, you'll wind up a little miserable, which is ultimately demotivating for you and bad for your grades. Having fun can actually keep you going.
    • If you feel like you "don't have time" for being social, turn it into something academic. It can be helpful to have a group study session where you can talk and joke, but also get things done. It will be entertaining and instructional at the same time – the best of both worlds.


  • Learning to cope with stress will help students find a better quality of life and enjoy these precious high school or middle school years.
  • As typical as it sounds, yoga is a great solution. It is good physical activity and you relax. Meditation is actually very effective, too. Do this right before bed, no matter how tired you are. It helps you have more beneficial sleep as well.
  • If you are a special needs student, talk with your teacher about having extra time to do your work.


  • Don't be afraid to say no to responsibilities if you simply cannot handle the additional stress/pressure to do them. You need rest and relaxation at some point in your life.
  • Don't resort to drugs, alcohol or smoking. It's not good for your health.
  • Don't drop out of school.

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Categories: Surviving School