a couple of kids sitting at a desk in front of a laptop computer.

12 Ways to Deal with School Stress

Amber Murphy

From social pressures to too much homework, you’re bound to experience school stress at some point in your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re in elementary school, middle school, or even high school, being a student requires you to learn a lot of information in a short time. It can feel overwhelming. But there are ways to deal with chronic stress and to relieve stress in general. In this article we’ll discuss all the ways you can deal with school stress.

How to Deal With School Stress

1. Sleep

Alarm clock for sleep

Yes, you have to sleep. Some students, especially as they go into college, think they can cram and pull an all-nighter. Sure, maybe it’ll work once, or even the first few times. You can even do that project last minute or stay up all night to write that paper, and pull off a passing grade. But, how about next week’s paper? And the one after that? Then you have studying, time for family, going out with friends, and so on.

Make it a top priority to get enough sleep, as in 6-8 hours a night to prevent burnout. And, make sure you maintain a similar sleep pattern on the weekends (i.e., don’t sleep 20 hours on the weekend to compensate for all nighters during the week). Your body needs rest. It’ll not only help keep you feeling refreshed, it’ll also help your mind stay fresh to prevent school related stress.

Plus, there are many benefits of sleep, for example, sleep helps regulate your mood, which helps you manage stress better. Don’t neglect it. Think of it as an investment for your energy. Putting in 8 hours of sleep tonight could mean 12 solid hours of high energy tomorrow. If you need help, there are apps that can help you sleep.

2. Ask for extensions

To manage school stress, sometimes it’s a good idea to ask for extensions. Depending on your school structure, you might even talk to a guidance counsellor about lessening your course load. You might trade in a course for Saturday school or summer school, so that you can better manage your course load during the the school year.

Young people don’t need to be ashamed about asking for extensions or alterations to their school schedules, it can be a very helpful thing. This tends to be more common for high school students or university students, who have challenging projects and timelines. Alternatively, if you find you absorb content better outside the classroom, you might try an online school instead of an in-person one. Everyone learns differently, so find what helps you manage stress best.

3. Positive affirmations matter

You don’t need to be an Ivy League graduate to do well in life. High school students don’t need to overburden themselves with a brand name school. It’s key to your emotional health to aim to do your best but to still enjoy your life. Positive self talk will be helpful in helping you reduce stress at school.

It might sound like an oversimplification or even corny advice, but the lens you look at the world through can affect everything. From the choices you make to the attitude and mood you’re in. If you’re more negative than positive, it’ll make your life a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you’re going to believe it. Focus your energy instead on telling yourself what you can achieve. If you work hard, you’re going to do well on the test, ace your project, or give a great presentation.

Sometimes the best students are the ones who care enough, and put in the additional effort. Remember, half of success is just showing up. Those who are optimists and tend to be more positive, tend to do better in their coursework. Give it a try, rather than telling yourself you’re going to fail at something before even trying it. 

4. Listen to music

From upbeat music to classical music, finding the songs that help you relax are key to managing student stress. It doesn’t matter if you’re in middle school or university, music can be helpful when it comes to getting you to focus or even to calm the mind when you’re feeling anxious. Young people should take time to listen to music every day during stressful periods. Don’t be afraid to dance to it either. Your physical education could be helpful here too. Plus, music can be therapeutic for your mental health. So, whether you’re struggling with stress management or mood swings or just having busy schedules, consider listening to your favorite positive songs to help you manage stress.

5. Eat well and exercise

A healthy salad bowl to deal with stress at school

Your mind and body need to work together well for you to function well as a student. You don’t have to run a 5K in 20 minutes or become a state champion athlete to get into the top schools. Nor do you have to follow the strictest diet and avoid having fun.

But you do have to make time to exercise as this will help increase endorphins, which will help put you in a better mood, in turn, helping you do better in your courses and deal with stress better at school.

Don’t forget about maintaining a great diet, too. If your school cafeteria is like most, it probably is filled with a lot of food that isn’t the healthiest option. Still, it’s important to do your best to eat a clean diet during the week while you’re at school. It will not only nourish your body, it will feed your mind as well. A well fed mind will be able to tackle any school stressors. 

6. Ask for advice from older students

dealing with school stress

You can manage school stress by asking for advice from students a few years older than you. People who’ve recently been through the problems your facing will be able to help you know what a normal stress response is while providing solutions that will better your mental health. Besides, young adults tend to prefer advice from people around their age rather than their parents, counsellors, or trusted adults.

As long as you get the emotional support you need to deal with peer pressure, bullying, or just stress in school, you’ll be okay. So find a support system who will lift you up instead of knock you down while you’re low.

7. Visualize yourself doing well

This suggestion works hand in hand with the positive affirmation one. If you visualize positive energies, see yourself getting good grades, doing well on a paper, and excelling in your courses, you are in a better position to do so.

I’m not suggesting that visualization is magic and that just picturing yourself do something will allow you to get it. In actuality, visualization is a way to prepare yourself. It’s a way to see yourself reaching the goal so that when you practice in reality, you’ll have a clearer path. This helps you stay calm under pressure.

So whether it is preparing for the SAT or ACT, preparing for a big presentation in your college speech class, or preparing for the final exam in one of your toughest classes, visualize yourself doing well and getting a good grade on the work you’re turning in.

Guided imagery is a great way to reduce stress at school. If you’re visualizing bad things and bad energies, this is immediately going to put a great burden on your body and mind. With positive visualizations, you’ll instantly turn off self doubt, help yourself calm down, and you’re going to feel at ease when the time comes for you to sit in for that exam, or to give that presentation that you have to give in front of a classroom of 50 students.

You’re going to feel a calming energy around you, and this is going to go a long way in helping you reduce overall levels of stress, and improve the manner in which you’re going to approach whatever challenge you are facing in one of your courses. 

8. Take a temporary leave

Many parents become concerned when their kids decide to leave school. While an education is important and you should strive to graduate, it’s also okay to know when it’s time for a bit of a break. Taking a semester off from high school or university to manage your mental health is sometimes a necessity, especially when you’re feeling like the stress in school is unmanageable.

However, you shouldn’t leave school and then do nothing. You should aim to be productive in the period, such as learning your coursework at your own pace, getting a part-time job, or investing in your mental health, such as therapy appointments and stress management. Having the support of your parents and doctor will be key, though. Without it, the tension will just move from school to home.

9. Disconnect from social

The health effects of social media

No, this doesn’t mean you can’t have social media accounts. Nor does it mean you should stop using these accounts during a set period of time. But a social media detox could be good for you. Today, everyone’s on some kind of social platform, it’s impossible to avoid it. But you can focus on looking at the positive versus the negative. You can avoid looking at accounts or people’s pages that have negative things to say.

Instead, focus on being friends with people who do well in school. Focus on looking for accounts that spread positive energies and vibes. Try to find a brand to follow that helps deal with school stress.

You can use the power of social media in a positive manner, so do so in your attempt to reduce overall stress levels at school. Don’t keep up with the masses, which is going to cause a spike in cortisol levels, and increase stress levels. And spread love back to people you follow, writing kind messages to them.

10. Make new friends

stress management

Those looking to reduce stress will benefit from making new friends. Having a good group of friends is key to good mental health. Meeting new people can be hard, especially if you just joined a new school. So start with people who sit next to you, if you see someone hanging out alone, you can ask them to hang out, or join your local school clubs or extracurriculars.

Stress in school can be overcome by having a good friend you can vent to. However, if all you do is vent you might push people away. So aim to do kind gestures for your friends.

Find ways to lift people up and make them feel good. Young adults who do this will notice that there’s less drama from always praising people rather than putting people down or gossiping about someone for the sake of fitting in.

11. Regularly practice meditation

Guided meditation can be a tool for students when they’re feeling overwhelmed by their studies, or when they just want to maintain a more positive and mindful attitude while in school.

You don’t need to do anything fancy, either. A 20-minute meditation for students will help you untangle the clutter that gathers in your mind from all the responsibilities and things you’re accountable for at school.

You know, the dozens of assignments you need to complete, the handful of quizzes you need to ace, and the bunch of tests you need to prepare for. Meditation grounds you, to the moment, and teaches you to approach all of these tasks mindfully and get out of your head.

12. Get organized with an agenda

Using an agenda to deal with stress at school

Ultimately, if you’re not using an agenda or some kind of method of organizing the assignments you have due (and when they’re due) and the various notes from different classes, it can be hard to be organized.

Instead of keeping these things filed away in your brain hoping you can access them when you need them later, write things down. The date of the upcoming test? The 3 things you need to add to the assignment you’re working on? Need to remember to edit that paper before turning it in? Write it all down.

We’re human. Our brains, even when we’re young, aren’t perfect. They can become cluttered and we have a tendency to forget things or mix things up.

Get organized and use something like an agenda or calendar on your phone to plan and keep track of all your classes, all of your assignments, and all the notes you take in each class. Deal with the stress at school by simply becoming more organized.


Stress management is key to dealing with school stress. Since stress impacts all areas of your life, you’ll want to schedule time to calm the mind. You can do this through long talks with your parents, getting a pep talk from a friend, or downloading the Declutter The Mind app on your phone. But know, everything you’re facing is temporary. You’ll eventually graduate and things will change. Your school life isn’t your whole life. Still, learn how to take care of yourself, it’ll make things going forward a lot easier.

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