Manage stress as a university student at VIU

How to manage stress as a university student

November 29, 2019
Author: Rachel Stern

Coping strategies for handling the demands and stress of student life

Being a university student can be stressful.

You may have competing deadlines. Maybe you’re holding down a part-time job, experiencing social pressures or have family responsibilities. Sometimes it can feel like you’re being pulled in too many directions.

How do you cope? The first step is to find out what positive coping strategies work for you. Here are some tips you can try to manage stress as a university student.

Manage your time

Sometimes it can feel like you have so much to do that you won’t get to it all. Learning how to plan your semester helps keep stress and deadlines manageable. Check out Vancouver Island University’s Learning Matters website for helpful videos about balancing your schedule and how to beat procrastination. There are also helpful tip sheets about time management and study techniques.

Reach out to a friend

Many students who attend university away from home often leave childhood friends and family behind. Friends and family are only a phone call, text or video chat away. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you trust if you need support. 


Make connections on campus

Making personal connections can help you manage your stress. Your students’ union is a great place to start. At VIU, the union hosts numerous events on campus and has a list of clubs where you can find kindred spirits to share your interests.

Seek support

Need more support than a friend can provide? University Counselling Services can help you identify and work toward your goals. You can connect with counsellors for one-on-one appointments. Counsellors can also refer you to a number of groups and workshops to help you build coping skills.

Get active

Exercise is known to have many benefits, including helping to elevate your mood. You can sweat it out in the gym, sign-up for a yoga class or take a stroll. Choose an exercise you enjoy and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Breathe deep

When you’re stressed you may hold onto your breath, tightening your muscles. This can lead to even more stress on your body. Learning how to unwind through meditation and deep breathing exercises can have many positive impacts on your physical and mental health. VIU Counselling Services has an extensive list of meditation apps and resources you can try.

Get a good night’s sleep

It may sound cliché but getting a restful night’s sleep is important. The National Sleep Foundation offers these tips for good sleep hygiene:

  • Avoid caffeine close to bedtime;
  • Avoid bright lights from cellphones, tablets or TV screens before bed;
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine such as taking a warm shower or reading a good book;
  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes;
  • Don’t eat fried meals, spicy dishes or carbonated drinks right before bed because they may cause indigestion for some people.

Eat right

Stress can make you want to reach for the nearest high-fat or sugary food. Dieticians of Canada recommends:

  • Choose water and herbal teas and decaffeinated coffee over caffeinated beverages;
  • Don’t skip meals;
  • Keep healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts and sliced vegetables handy in case you’re hungry;
  • If you’re craving something indulge yourself with one portion, but don’t overdo it.

Find out more about VIU services

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