How to Deal with Stress at School: 7 Ways for Inside and Outside the Classroom

Amber Murphy
Amber Murphy

The key to doing well at school and getting good grades is studying, right? Yes, in part. However, learning how to deal with stress at school, from an early age, is going to help you improve your grades and your overall experience as a student as well. Stress at school comes from various different avenues. Some of these include:

  • Parents and their expectations (or your own expectations)
  • Teachers, coaches
  • Friends, social media
  • Homework, studying, getting good grades

And, this isn’t even a complete list of everything that might be causing you to stress as a student. So, what should you do when stress begins to pile up? Consider a few of these things you can do when you’re trying to learn how to deal with stress at school, and improve your overall experience as a student.

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.

By the end of the day, you see you’ve only got a few 15-minute breaks and rest periods in there. You’re going to burn yourself out. So, dedicate time to sleep. Make it a top priority to get in 6-8 hours a night. 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 ensure you’re doing well in all aspects of your school and personal life.

Plus, sleep helps regulate your mood, which helps you manage stress better. Don’t neglect sleep, especially when you’re young. 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. Positive affirmations matter

Not everyone is going to be a Harvard grad or get into every Ivy League they apply to. Whether it’s in high school or when you’re starting to apply for college, if you’re an average or slightly above average student, you can still do well. Think positively. Make sure you speak positive thoughts.

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 and cynical 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 you can do things.

You’re going to do well on the test, you’re going to ace your project, and you can give a great presentation in speech class.

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 think positively, 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. 

3. Eat well and exercise

A healthy salad bowl to deal with stress at school

Your body and mind 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 of school stressors. 

4. 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.

Many athletes do this before the big game.

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. 

5. Disconnect from social

The health effects of social media

No, this doesn’t mean you can’t have social media accounts and shouldn’t go out with friends. Nor does it mean you should stop using these accounts during a set period of time. 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 social channel that helps deal with stress such as a social media profile that promotes a positive or inspirational message.

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, rather than try to keep up with the masses, which is going to cause a spike in cortisol levels, and increase stress levels.

6. Regularly practice meditation

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 simple 10-minute a day mindfulness practice 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 with a clear head.

7. 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, you may be setting yourself up for failure.

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? Write that down in your calendar. The 3 things you need to add to the assignment you’re working on? At that to your notebook. Need to remember to edit that paper before turning it in? Set a reminder.

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.

The more organized you are, the more of a weight you can relieve off of your shoulders. The burden of having to remember that one thing is no longer your problem. It’s your phone’s problem. Don’t give yourself more reasons to be stressed at school. Deal with the stress at school by simply becoming more organized.

You turn

No two people react the same way to stress. However, learning how to deal with stress at school will help you improve your grades, attitudes, and become a better student overall. Consider some of these tips to help you reduce overall stress levels, at any level of schooling, and ultimately become a better, stress-free, student.

Got a tip of your own? Do you have your own way of dealing with the chaos of the classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

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