Published: April 24, 2019

stressed student at laptopThe right amount of stress can keep students motivated and working hard, but too much of it can take a toll on their wellbeing. It’s important for students to find healthy ways to manage stress, especially during finals and figuring out “what’s next” for the summer. Here’s our quick guide to helping your student get things under control this week.

1. Time management

One source of stress can be feeling like there’s too much to get done and not enough time to do it all. Recommend your student start by writing it all out—every upcoming assignment and their due dates—and plan their time backwards, prioritizing based on those deadlines.

Have them jot down exactly when everything will get done and commit to the schedule. Preparing in advance may not create more time, but it can help each of us to visualize exactly where all our time is and how to best use it. When they’re ready to get started, recommend a to-do list and organizer app like Wunderlist, free on iOS and Android. To-do lists can even be shared on this app!

2. Keeping up with the basics

Our minds and bodies work best when we take care of them. Encourage your student to set reminders on their phone to drink a full water bottle every few hours, pack plenty of healthy snacks before hitting the library, plan for at least 7 hours of sleep per night and work in a 20-minute power nap here and there too.

We like using HabitBull, a free app for tracking good habits that also rewards us for meeting goals. Or, if sleep is a bigger obstacle, your student can try out Relax Melodies for soothing sounds to shut their mind off.

3. Study breaks

Research has shown that studying endlessly can be more harmful than helpful. Instead, suggest your student try this proven study cycle called the Pomodoro technique: they set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on the task at hand. When time is up, they can take a 5-minute break to walk around, talk to a friend or check Instagram. Then, they repeat the cycle three more times, and take a 30-minute break to really refresh.

4. Checking expectations

Stress feeds off of unrealistic expectations and pressure. It’s important to check in with your student periodically about where their expectations are coming from, and if they’re adding on pressure to be perfect or achieve a lofty goal that may be hindering their ability to actually perform well.

Talking to a friend or journaling about this pressure can offer some perspective and help them let go of things that may not be worth the mental energy—recommend they find some positive ways to channel this energy and safe, supportive spaces to discuss it openly, either with you or with their campus community.

5. Relaxing and recuperating

Finding ways to channel stress keeps all of us balanced enough to handle the next stressor that comes our way. Some of our favorite self-care activities include watching an episode on Netflix, getting in some physical activity, spending time in nature and having coffee with a friend. For meditation, we especially like using the apps Breathe2Relax and Stop, Breathe and Think. Support your student in trying out new self-care techniques and strategies to find what works best for them and their life balance!