Essay on Stress Management

500 words essay on stress management.

Stress is a very complex phenomenon that we can define in several ways. However, if you put them together, it is basically the wear and tear of daily life. Stress management refers to a wide spectrum of techniques and psychotherapies for controlling a person’s stress level, especially chronic stress . If there is effective stress management, we can help one another break the hold of stress on our lives. The essay on stress management will throw light on the very same thing.

essay on stress management

Identifying the Source of Stress

The first step of stress management is identifying the source of stress in your life. It is not as easy as that but it is essential. The true source of stress may not always be evident as we tend to overlook our own stress-inducing thoughts and feelings.

For instance, you might constantly worry about meeting your deadline. But, in reality, maybe your procrastination is what leads to this stress than the actual deadline. In order to identify the source of stress, we must look closely within ourselves.

If you explain away stress as temporary, then it may be a problem. Like if you yourself don’t take a breather from time to time, what is the point? On the other hand, is stress an integral part of your work and you acknowledging it like that?

If you make it a part of your personality, like you label things as crazy or nervous energy, you need to look further. Most importantly, do you blame the stress on people around you or the events surrounding you?

It is essential to take responsibility for the role one plays in creating or maintaining stress. Your stress will remain outside your control if you do not do it.

Strategies for Stress Management

It is obvious that we cannot avoid all kinds of stress but there are many stressors in your life which you can definitely eliminate. It is important to learn how to say no and stick to them.  Try to avoid people who stress you out.

Further, if you cannot avoid a stressful situation, try altering it. Express your feelings don’t bottle them up and manage your time better. Moreover, you can also adapt to the stressor if you can’t change it.

Reframe problems and look at the big picture. Similarly, adjust your standards and focus on the positive side. Never try to control the uncontrollable. Most importantly, make time for having fun and relaxing.

Spend some time with nature, go for a walk or call a friend, whatever pleases you.  You can also try working out, listening to music and more. As long as it makes you happy, never give up.

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Conclusion of the Essay on Stress Management

All in all, we can control our stress levels with relaxation techniques that evoke the relaxation response of our body. It is the state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. Thus, when you practice these techniques regularly, you can build your resilience and heal yourself.

FAQ of Essay on Stress Management

Question 1: What is the importance of stress management?

Answer 1: Stress management is very efficient as it helps in breaking the hold which stress has on our lives. Moreover, you can also become happy, healthy and more productive because of it. The ultimate goal should be to live a balanced life and have the resilience to hold up under pressure.

Question 2: Give some stress management techniques.

Answer 2: There are many stress management techniques through which one can reduce stress in their lives. One can change their situation or their reaction to it. We can try by altering the situation. If not, we can change our attitudes towards it. Remember, accept things that you cannot change.

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Managing Stress in High School

Our reasons may vary, but everyone experiences stress. Here are some of the common reasons high school students feel stressed, and what they can do about it.

Pamela Reynolds

Exams. Choosing a college. Figuring out what to do with your life.

No doubt, high school can be a high-pressure time in life. And high school students, as a result, get stressed out.  

In fact, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America 2020 survey, teens who are already under stress due to the normal pressures of high school have felt even more stress in recent years, thanks to the pandemic. About 43 percent of teens surveyed in 2020 said their stress levels had gone up, and 45 percent said they had a hard time concentrating on schoolwork. Many reported feeling less motivated.

Although life has mostly returned back to normal, that doesn’t mean the stress that high school students feel has disappeared. 

The typical challenges that anyone faces in high school continue as they always have, and, in some cases, have grown more complicated. Consequently, surveys suggest, many teens continue to experience a decline in mental and physical health. 

If you’re in high school and stressed, we get it. In this blog, we’ll talk about what stress is, what triggers it, and how you can manage it. 

What is Stress?

“Stress” is a term we use constantly in conversation, but what does it really mean? 

Stress can be defined as our physical and mental responses to some external event. The event might be considered “good” like preparing to go to the prom, or bad, like feeling tense after an illness, an argument with a friend, or while preparing for an upcoming test. 

The good thing about most stress is that it usually goes away once the external event causing the stress is over. 

Alternatively, there is a type of stress that results more from an internal dialogue than an external event. We call this “anxiety.” It involves persistent feelings of dread or apprehension that interfere with your daily life, even after the test, the argument, or prom, are just a distant memory. 

Why Are Teens So Stressed? 

Simply being a teenager can be hard. Your body is changing. You may be grappling with your sexuality or gender identity. Add to that the academic demands of high school and throw in the pressures of social media, and the tension mounts. 

“Some of the common triggers of stress in teens might be anxiety to perform well in academics such as getting into a good college, peer pressure, interpersonal relationships, or body image issues,” says Sakshi Khurana, Research Fellow at Harvard’s Weisz Lab for Youth Mental Health. “Other larger issues that the world is going through — for example, climate change or war— might also act as stressors for teens as they are learning about the world.”

The most common source of stress for high school students, according to the 2017 APA Stress survey , is school itself, with about 83 percent of teens identifying school as a major stressor. The second biggest source of student stress, (according to 69 percent of students), was getting into a good college or deciding what to do after high school. The third biggest teen stress was financial concerns for the family (65 percent of students). 

Here’s a quick breakdown of broad categories of factors that may stress you out:

  • Academics. In high school, not only are you worried about next week’s English, History or Calculus exam, but you’re also worried about applying to college and taking the SAT tests, too. It can all feel overwhelming, and you may feel pressure to please your parents and teachers.
  • Social Stress. Even without the pressures of academics, life in high school can be demanding. Dealing with friends and classmates, starting new romantic relationships, handling bullies and peer pressure both online and off, can be a lot to handle.
  • Family Issues. If your parents are divorcing, if your family is experiencing financial problems, or even if you just have trouble getting along with siblings, your stress levels can go up.
  • Trauma . Dramatic life events ranging from a death in the family, to an accident, to emotional and physical abuse, can cause stress. Also in this category, you can include the collective trauma of such global events such as school shootings, terrorism, and natural disasters. 
  • Big Life Changes . Changes like moving and starting a new school can be a major stress for teens. 

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What are Signs of Stress in High School Students?

If you’re a high school student feeling stressed, you may not even recognize the symptoms. 

In fact, many symptoms of stress might be considered normal for teens who are also dealing with natural hormonal and physical changes. For that reason, it’s important to consider whether behavioral changes can be linked in time to an external event. 

Signs of stress include:

  • Feeling more agitated, anxious, short-tempered, or depressed  
  • Getting sick more often
  • Having more headaches, stomachaches, or other aches and pains
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Skipping meals or overeating 
  • Neglecting chores or hobbies 
  • Trouble concentrating and forgetfulness
  • High blood pressure

According to the APA 2017 survey, the most common symptoms of stress among teens were insomnia, overeating or eating unhealthy foods, skipping meals, feeling angry, nervous, or anxious, feeling fatigued, and snapping at friends and classmates.

Why is Stress so Problematic for Teens?

Let’s be clear, a little bit of stress is a normal part of life, and sometimes even desirable. 

Stress can act as a motivator, getting us to do things we might not otherwise. Good stress is called “eustress” and can help get you excited and energized about that first date or taking the stage in your first musical.

But too much unrelieved stress can lead to mental and physical health issues.  

Your body reacts to stress by releasing a hormone called cortisol which regulates blood pressure and immune function. If you’re stressed all the time and your body produces too much cortisol, it can lower your immunity, raise your blood pressure, and impair your cognitive performance.

In teens, the part of the brain regulating the stress response is less developed than in adults, meaning that if you’re a stressed-out teen, you may experience stress longer than an adult. 

“In the teen years, due to hormonal changes, stress tends to influence the emotional functioning of the brain, which in turn impacts the cognitive and executive functioning,” says Khurana.

You might not be able to sleep, you may overeat, or develop digestive, cardiovascular, or immune problems. Stress can even put you at a higher risk for developing mental illnesses like anxiety or depression . 

What are the Best Techniques to Help Students Manage Stress?

Since too much stress is not a good thing for your mind or body, you should think about incorporating a few stress management techniques into your daily life. 

“A few techniques that might help teens manage stress are relaxation through deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness, channeling energy into sports or creative pursuits such as music, art, theater, and forming meaningful relationships or friendships,” says Khurana. “Additionally, every culture has its own way of enabling young people to manage stress, so drawing from those traditions might be helpful as well.”

Here are few ideas of how high school students can learn how to deal with stress at school: 

  • Keeping a journal
  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Eating healthy, regular meals
  • Making sure you get enough sleep  
  • Downloading an app that provides relaxation exercises (such as deep breathing or visualization) or tips for practicing mindfulness
  • Limiting excess caffeine in soft drinks or coffee
  • Reaching out to friends or family members who help you cope in a positive way
  • Making time to do fun things
  • Learning to recognize and prepare for stressful periods by doing all of the above

With so many big life decisions ahead, getting through high school happy and whole can definitely feel challenging at times. It’s easy to see why so many high school students feel stressed. The good news is that there are solutions. Adopt the strategies above, take a deep breath, and remember, it’s not forever! 

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About the Author

Pamela Reynolds is a Boston-area feature writer and editor whose work appears in numerous publications. She is the author of “Revamp: A Memoir of Travel and Obsessive Renovation.”

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Top 10 Stress Management Techniques for Students

Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

stress management students essay

Akeem Marsh, MD, is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist who has dedicated his career to working with medically underserved communities.

stress management students essay

Most students experience significant amounts of stress. This can significantly affect their health, happiness, relationships, and grades. Learning stress management techniques can help these students avoid negative effects in these areas.

Why Stress Management Is Important for Students

A study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that teens report stress levels similar to adults. This means teens are experiencing significant levels of chronic stress and feel their stress levels generally exceed their ability to cope effectively .

Roughly 30% of the teens reported feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or sad because of their stress.

Stress can also affect health-related behaviors. Stressed students are more likely to have problems with disrupted sleep, poor diet, and lack of exercise. This is understandable given that nearly half of APA survey respondents reported completing three hours of homework per night in addition to their full day of school work and extracurriculars.

Common Causes of Student Stress

Another study found that much of high school students' stress originates from school and activities, and that this chronic stress can persist into college years and lead to academic disengagement and mental health problems.

Top Student Stressors

Common sources of student stress include:

  • Extracurricular activities
  • Social challenges
  • Transitions (e.g., graduating, moving out , living independently)
  • Relationships
  • Pressure to succeed

High school students face the intense competitiveness of taking challenging courses, amassing impressive extracurriculars, studying and acing college placement tests, and deciding on important and life-changing plans for their future. At the same time, they have to navigate the social challenges inherent to the high school experience.

This stress continues if students decide to attend college. Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but research has found that increased daily stressors put college-aged young adults at a higher risk for stress than other age groups.

Making new friends, handling a more challenging workload, feeling pressured to succeed, being without parental support, and navigating the stresses of more independent living are all added challenges that make this transition more difficult. Romantic relationships always add an extra layer of potential stress.

Students often recognize that they need to relieve stress . However, all the activities and responsibilities that fill a student’s schedule sometimes make it difficult to find the time to try new stress relievers to help dissipate that stress.

10 Stress Management Techniques for Students

Here you will learn 10 stress management techniques for students. These options are relatively easy, quick, and relevant to a student’s life and types of stress .

Get Enough Sleep

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Students, with their packed schedules, are notorious for missing sleep. Unfortunately, operating in a sleep-deprived state puts you at a distinct disadvantage. You’re less productive, may find it more difficult to learn, and may even be a hazard behind the wheel.

Research suggests that sleep deprivation and daytime sleepiness are also linked to impaired mood, higher risk for car accidents, lower grade point averages, worse learning, and a higher risk of academic failure.

Don't neglect your sleep schedule. Aim to get at least 8 hours a night and take power naps when needed.

Use Guided Imagery

David Malan / Getty Images

Guided imagery can also be a useful and effective tool to help stressed students cope with academic, social, and other stressors. Visualizations can help you calm down, detach from what’s stressing you, and reduce your body’s stress response.

You can use guided imagery to relax your body by sitting in a quiet, comfortable place, closing your eyes, and imagining a peaceful scene. Spend several minutes relaxing as you enjoy mentally basking in your restful image.

Consider trying a guided imagery app if you need extra help visualizing a scene and inducting a relaxation response. Research suggests that such tools might be an affordable and convenient way to reduce stress.

Exercise Regularly

One of the healthiest ways to blow off steam is to get regular exercise . Research has found that students who participate in regular physical activity report lower levels of perceived stress. While these students still grapple with the same social, academic, and life pressures as their less-active peers, these challenges feel less stressful and are easier to manage.

Finding time for exercise might be a challenge, but there are strategies that you can use to add more physical activity to your day. Some ideas that you might try include:

  • Doing yoga in the morning
  • Walking or biking to class
  • Reviewing for tests with a friend while walking on a treadmill at the gym
  • Taking an elective gym class focused on leisure sports or exercise
  • Joining an intramural sport

Exercise can help buffer against the negative effects of student stress. Starting now and keeping a regular exercise practice throughout your lifetime can help you live longer and enjoy your life more.

Take Calming Breaths

When your body is experiencing a stress response, you’re often not thinking as clearly as you could be. You are also likely not breathing properly. You might be taking short, shallow breaths. When you breathe improperly, it upsets the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body.

Studies suggest this imbalance can contribute to various physical symptoms, including increased anxiety, fatigue, stress, emotional problems, and panic attacks.

A quick way to calm down is to practice breathing exercises . These can be done virtually anywhere to relieve stress in minutes.

Because they are fast-acting, breathing exercises are a great way to cope with moments of acute stress , such as right before an exam or presentation. But they can also help manage longer-lasting stress such as dealing with relationships, work, or financial problems.

Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

Another great stress management technique for students that can be used during tests, before bed, or at other times when stress has you physically wound up is progressive muscle relaxation ( PMR ).

This technique involves tensing and relaxing all muscles until the body is completely relaxed. With practice, you can learn to release stress from your body in seconds. This can be particularly helpful for students because it can be adapted to help relaxation efforts before sleep for a deeper sleep.

Once a person learns how to use PMR effectively, it can be a quick and handy way to induce relaxation in any stressful situation, such as bouts of momentary panic before a speech or exam, dealing with a disagreement with your roommate, or preparing to discuss a problem with your academic advisor.

Listen to Music

A convenient stress reliever that has also shown many cognitive benefits, music can help relieve stress and calm yourself down or stimulate your mind depending on what you need in the moment.

Research has found that playing upbeat music can improve processing speed and memory. Stressed students may find that listening to relaxing music can help calm the body and mind. One study found that students who listened to the sounds of relaxing music were able to recover more quickly after a stressful situation.

Students can harness the benefits of music by playing classical music while studying, playing upbeat music to "wake up" mentally, or relaxing with the help of their favorite slow melodies.

Build Your Support Network

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Having emotional support can help create a protective buffer against stress. Unfortunately,  interpersonal relationships can also sometimes be a source of anxiety for students. Changes in friendships, romantic breakups, and life transitions such as moving away for college can create significant upheaval and stress for students.

One way to combat feelings of loneliness and make sure that you have people to lean on in times of need is to expand your support network and nurture your relationships.

Look for opportunities to meet new people, whether it involves joining study groups or participating in other academic, social, and leisure activities.

Remember that different types of relationships offer differing types of support . Your relationships with teachers, counselors, and mentors can be a great source of information and resources that may help you academically. Relationships with friends can provide emotional and practical support.

Widening your social circle can combat student stress on various fronts and ensure you have what you need to succeed.

Eat a Healthy Diet

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You may not realize it, but your diet can either boost your brainpower or sap you of mental energy. It can also make you more reactive to the stress in your life. As a result, you might find yourself turning to high-sugar, high-fat snacks to provide a temporary sense of relief.

A healthy diet can help combat stress in several ways. Improving your diet can keep you from experiencing diet-related mood swings, light-headedness, and more.

Unfortunately, students are often prone to poor dietary habits. Feelings of stress can make it harder to stick to a consistently healthy diet, but other concerns such as finances, access to cooking facilities, and time to prepare healthy meals can make it more challenging for students.

Some tactics that can help students make healthy choices include:

  • Eating regularly
  • Carrying a water bottle to class
  • Keeping healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts handy
  • Limiting caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol intake

Find Ways to Minimize Stress

One way to improve your ability to manage student stress is to look for ways you cut stress out of your life altogether. Evaluate the things that are bringing stress or anxiety into your life. Are they necessary? Are they providing more benefits than the toll they take on your mental health? If the answer is no, sometimes the best option is just to ditch them altogether.

This might mean cutting some extracurricular activities out of your schedule. It might mean limiting your use of social media. Or it might mean learning to say no to requests for your time, energy, and resources. 

While it might be challenging at first, learning how to prioritize yourself and your mental well-being is an important step toward reducing your stress.

Try Mindfulness

When you find yourself dealing with stress—whether it's due to academics, relationships, financial pressures, or social challenges—becoming more aware of how you feel in the moment may help you respond more effectively.

Mindfulness involves becoming more aware of the present moment. Rather than judging, reacting, or avoiding problems, the goal is to focus on the present, become more aware of how you are feeling, observe your reactions, and accept these feelings without passing judgment on them.

Research suggests that mindfulness-based stress management practices can be a useful tool for reducing student stress. Such strategies may also help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

A Word From Verywell

It is important to remember that stress isn't the same for everyone. Figuring out what works for you may take some trial and error. A good start is to ensure that you are taking care of yourself physically and emotionally and to experiment with different stress relief strategies to figure out what works best to help you feel less stressed.

If stress and anxiety are causing distress or making it difficult to function in your daily life, it is important to seek help. Many schools offer resources that can help, including face-to-face and online mental health services. You might start by talking to your school counselor or student advisor about the stress you are coping with. You can also talk to a parent, another trusted adult, or your doctor.

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, contact the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline  at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our  National Helpline Database .

American Psychological Association. Stress in America: Are Teens Adopting Adults' Stress Habits?

Leonard NR, Gwadz MV, Ritchie A, et al. A multi-method exploratory study of stress, coping, and substance use among high school youth in private schools . Front Psychol. 2015;6:1028. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01028

Acharya L, Jin L, Collins W. College life is stressful today - Emerging stressors and depressive symptoms in college students . J Am Coll Health . 2018;66(7):655-664. doi:10.1080/07448481.2018.1451869

Beiter R, Nash R, McCrady M, Rhoades D, Linscomb M, Clarahan M, Sammut S. The prevalence and correlates of depression, anxiety, and stress in a sample of college students . J Affect Disord . 2015;173:90-6. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2014.10.054

Hershner SD, Chervin RD. Causes and consequences of sleepiness among college students . Nat Sci Sleep . 2014;6:73-84. doi:10.2147/NSS.S62907

Gordon JS, Sbarra D, Armin J, Pace TWW, Gniady C, Barraza Y. Use of a guided imagery mobile app (See Me Serene) to reduce COVID-19-related stress: Pilot feasibility study . JMIR Form Res . 2021;5(10):e32353. doi:10.2196/32353

Cowley J, Kiely J, Collins D. Is there a link between self-perceived stress and physical activity levels in Scottish adolescents ? Int J Adolesc Med Health . 2017;31(1). doi:10.1515/ijamh-2016-0104

Paulus MP.  The breathing conundrum-interoceptive sensitivity and anxiety .  Depress Anxiety . 2013;30(4):315–320. doi:10.1002/da.22076

Toussaint L, Nguyen QA, Roettger C, Dixon K, Offenbächer M, Kohls N, Hirsch J, Sirois F. Effectiveness of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and guided imagery in promoting psychological and physiological states of relaxation . Evid Based Complement Alternat Med . 2021;2021:5924040. doi:10.1155/2021/5924040.

Gold BP, Frank MJ, Bogert B, Brattico E.  Pleasurable music affects reinforcement learning according to the listener .  Front Psychol . 2013;4:541. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00541

Thoma MV, La Marca R, Brönnimann R, Finkel L, Ehlert U, Nater UM.  The effect of music on the human stress response .  PLoS ONE . 2013;8(8):e70156. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070156

American Psychological Association. Manage stress: Strengthen your support network .

Nguyen-rodriguez ST, Unger JB, Spruijt-metz D.  Psychological determinants of emotional eating in adolescence.   Eat Disord . 2009;17(3):211-24. doi:10.1080/10640260902848543

Parsons D, Gardner P, Parry S, Smart S. Mindfulness-based approaches for managing stress, anxiety and depression for health students in tertiary education: A scoping review . Mindfulness (N Y) . 2022;13(1):1-16. doi:10.1007/s12671-021-01740-3

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

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  • v.8(Spec Iss 4); 2015

A review of the effectiveness of stress management skills training on academic vitality and psychological well-being of college students

P alborzkouh.

* Exceptional Children Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch, Iran

** General Psychology, Islamic Azad University, South Tehran Branch, Iran

*** General Psychology, Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty, Paradise University, Gillan Branch, Iran

**** General Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

F Shahgholy Ghahfarokhi

***** Clinical Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch Branch, Isfahan, Iran

Objective: Carrying out the appropriate psychological interventions to improve vitality and mental well-being is critical. The study was carried out to review the effectiveness of stress management training on the academic life and mental well-being of the students of Shahed University.

Methodology: The method used was quasi-experimental with a pretest-posttest plan and control group. Therefore, a total of 40 students of Shahed University of Tehran were selected by a convenience sampling method and were organized into two groups: experimental and control group. Both groups were pretested by using an academic vitality inventory and an 84-question psychological well-being inventory. Then, the experimental group received stress management skills training for ten sessions, and the control group did not receive any intervention. Next, both groups were post-tested, and the data were analyzed with SPSS-21 software by using descriptive and inferential statistical methods.

Findings: The findings showed that the stress management skills training significantly contributed to promoting the academic vitality and psychological well-being of students (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: It was concluded from this research that teaching the methods for dealing with stress was an effective strategy to help students exposed to high stress and pressure, and this was due to its high efficiency, especially when it was held in groups, had a small cost, and it was accepted by the individuals.


Challenges during education create sources of stress for students, and put their health at risk, in a way that affects their learning abilities [ 1 ]. Therefore, paying attention to the factors that could have a positive impact on the agreeableness and could increase the positive psychological states, and as a result, the physical and psychological health of the students was of great importance.

Among the important factors that affect people’s ability to adapt to the stresses of studying era is academic vitality [ 2 ]. Academic vitality means an adaptive response to various challenges and barriers experienced during education [ 3 ]. When a person does things spontaneously, does not feel not only frustrated and tired, but also constantly feels the strength and increased energy, and overall has a sense of inner vitality [ 2 ]. Therefore, the academic life has a relationship with the individual’s adaptation to the various situations of the academic period, feelings of self-efficacy and empowerment in the face of challenges, experiencing less anxiety and depression, a sense of responsibility in dealing with the academic tasks and better academic success [ 3 ]. Despite the high importance of academic vitality in the successful confrontation with the challenging academic period, the literature review of the studies managed in Iran showed that few studies were performed on the factors promoting this important variable. Therefore, an attempt to address this research gap increased the need for the current study.

Another important positive psychological state in students is the psychological well-being. The psychological well-being factor is defined as a person’s real talents growth and has six components that are the purpose in life, positive relations with others, personal growth, self-acceptance, autonomy, and environmental mastery [ 4 ]. The purpose in life means having a purpose and direction in life and pursuing them [ 5 ]. Positive relations with the others mean having warm, satisfactory relations along with confidence and empathy [ 6 ]. Personal growth means having a sense of continuous growth and the capacity for it and having an increased sense of efficacy and wisdom [ 4 ]. Self-acceptance means having a positive attitude towards oneself and accepting the various aspects of oneself [ 6 ]. Autonomy means the feeling of self-determination, independence, and self-assessment against personal criteria [ 4 ]. Moreover, environmental mastery means a sense of competence and the ability to manage the complex environment around [ 5 ].

However, one of the most significant parts affecting the psychological health and well-being of individuals is life skills training [ 7 ]. Life skills’ training is critical for students, in a way that on this basis, many universities have started to teach life skills and stress management skills to improve the physical and psychological health of their students in the recent years [ 8 ]. The main objective of the World Health Organization regarding the creation of a life skills plan is in the field of psychological health. Therefore, different societies throughout the world try to promote the implementation and evaluation of the programs training in life skills. It focuses on the growth of mental abilities such as problem-solving, coping with emotions, self-awareness, social harmony, and stress management among children, teenagers, and even adults [ 9 ]. From the life skills, training in stress management skills is critical, because students need to deal effectively with stressful issues and factors. Accordingly, it was thought that teaching stress management skills is very efficient in improving the students’ positive psychological states, in particular, their vitality and mental well-being. Therefore, this study examined the effectiveness of the stress management skills training on the academic life and psychological well-being among Shahed University students.


The study was quasi-experimental with a pretest-posttest. The analytical community of the study included all the students of Shahed University of Tehran in the fall of 2015, who were selected with a convenience method. For the calculation of the sample size, the appropriate sample size in experimental studies was of 15 people for each group [ 10 ]. At first, the sample size of 15 individuals was selected for each group. Then, to increase the statistical power and to manage the possible decrease in the number of participants, the sample size of 20 individuals (n = 20) was considered for each group. The sampling was voluntary non-random from among all the students studying at Shahed University. The inclusion criteria included an informed consent and the willingness to participate in the research, the ability to take part in the sessions and to collaborate in carrying out assignments, willingness to cooperate in completing the instruments, and the age range of 18 to 35 years. The exclusion criteria included the lack of desire to participate in the sessions and the absence to more than three courses in the preparation method, the lack of the ability to participate in the sessions, lack of cooperation in carrying out assignments, and receiving any training or psychological therapy that was not part of the program of this research.

The procedure of the study was that from all the students studying at Shahed University, a number was non-randomly and voluntarily selected, and if they met the inclusion criteria, they were randomly assigned to two groups: experimental and control. At the beginning and before starting the study, an informed consent was obtained from all of them to uphold moral considerations, through informing them of the aim of the study and the impact of such studies in improving their psychological status. Then, all the information of the participants were collected, and they were assured that the information would remain confidential by the researcher. Then, the experimental group received group stress management training for ten sessions, and the control group did not receive any intervention. In the end, both groups were post-tested. The protocol of stress management training sessions is presented in Table 1 .

Protocol of stress management skills training sessions

The instruments used in the study included a demographic sample page, an academic vitality questionnaire, and a psychological well-being scale (PWBS-18).

Demographic sample page: The demographic sample page included age, gender, educational level, and marital status. The sample page was prepared and evaluated by the researchers of the study.

Academic vitality questionnaire: This questionnaire was developed by Dehqanizadeh MH, Hosseinchari M (2012) [ 3 ], based on the academic vitality scale of Martin AJ, Marsh HW (2006) [ 15 ], which had four items. After various implementations of the items of the questionnaire, the final version was rewritten, and the result was that the revised version had ten items. Then the items above were again examined in a preliminary study on a sample including 186 high school students, who were chosen by using a cluster random sampling, and their psychometric properties were examined. The results of the examination showed that the obtained Cronbach’s alpha coefficient, by removing [ 3 ] item number 8, was 0.80 and the retest coefficient was 0.73. Also, the range of correlation of the elements with the total score was between 0.51 and 0.68. These results indicated that the items had a satisfactory internal consistency and stability.

Psychological well-being scale (SPWB): Riffe’s mental well-being scale [ 11 ] was made up of 84 questions in Likert’s 7-degree scale (from “strongly disagree” to “agree strongly”). It was a self-report questionnaire, which measured six components of the psychological well-being, including purpose in life, positive relations with others, personal growth, self-acceptance, autonomy, and environmental mastery. The internal consistency coefficients for the components of this questionnaire were obtained from 0.83 to 0.91. In Mohammadpour and Joshanloo research (2014) [ 6 ], the reliability coefficient of this scale with Cronbach’s alpha method for the psychological well-being scale obtained was 0.81. Also, for the subscales of the test including self-compliance, environmental mastery, personal growth and development, link with others, the goal in life, and self-acceptance were obtained at 0.60, 0.64, 0.54, 0.58, 0.65, and 0.61, respectively. A study performed by Kafka and Kozma (2002) was conducted to verify the validity of the items of the Riffe’s psychological well-being scale. The findings showed that there was a high correlation between this scale and the subjective well-being scale (SWB) and the satisfaction with life scale (SWLS). In the present study, the reliability coefficient with Cronbach’s alpha method for the psychological well-being scale obtained was 0.81. Also, for the subscales of the test, including self-compliance, environmental mastery, personal growth and development, relations with others, the goal in life, and self-acceptance were obtained at 0.60, 0.64, 0.54, 0.58, 0.65, and 0.61, respectively.

The SPSS-20 software was used for data analysis. The statistical method used for the data analysis of the research on the level of descriptive statistics was mean, standard deviation, frequency, and frequency percentage indexes, and on the inferential statistics, univariate and multivariate analysis of covariance model were used.

Findings of the research

The demographic properties of the sample present in the study are presented in Table 2 .

Demographic characteristics of the subjects

As presented in Table 1 , the largest frequency of participation belonged to the participants in the age range of 21 to 25 with 14 individuals (35%) and the lowest frequency of individuals in the range of 18 to 20 years, with six individuals (15%). In addition, the mean age of the participants was 24.85, and the standard deviation was 4.41. The other information about the demographic properties of the present sample is provided in Table 2

As shown in Table 3 , the mean scores of purpose in life, positive relations with others, personal growth, self-acceptance, autonomy, environmental mastery, total score of psychological well-being, and academic vitality of posttest were increased in the test group as associated with the control group.

Descriptive stats of academic vitality and psychological well-being scores of the two groups divided by the pretest and posttest

As shown in Table 4 , the null hypothesis of the equality of variances of the two groups in the academic vitality and psychological well-being with all its components was confirmed. It meant that the variances of the two clusters in the population were equal and had no significant difference for the academic vitality and the psychological well-being variable with all its components. Thus, given the compliance with the Levene assumption, the analysis of covariance of the results of the hypothesis of the research were permitted.

Results of Levene test for the examination of the consistency of variances of academic vitality and psychological well-being variables with its components in the posttest stage

As shown in Table 5 , the significance level of all the tests (p < 0.001) indicated that there was a significant difference between the two groups at least in one of the dependent variables (academic vitality and psychological well-being with its components). And, according to the eta square, 0.89 percent of the differences observed among individuals were associated with the effect of the independent variable, which was the intervention method (stress management skills training). On the other hand, given that the statistical power was 0.95, which was higher than 0.80, the sample size was acceptable for the research. The results related to significant differences in any of the dependent variables are listed below.

Results of multivariate analysis of covariance on the scores of posttest with the control of pretest in the academic vitality and psychological well-being variable with its components

According to Table 6 , the significance level was p < 0.001, the hypothesis of the difference between the academic vitality and the psychological well-being with its components in the two groups was confirmed. It stated that 0.54, 0.25, 0.52, 0.64, 0.60, 0.59, 0.45 and 0.81 percent change in the academic vitality, individuals’ purpose in life, positive relations with others, personal growth, self-acceptance, autonomy, environmental mastery, and psychological well-being scores were due to the independent variable (stress management skills training). Therefore, it could be said that stress management skills training increased the academic vitality and the psychological well-being and all of its components.

The results of multivariate analysis of covariance to assess the impact of stress management skills training on the level of psychological well-being and its components in the posttest stage

Discussion and conclusions

Given the aim of this study, which was to examine the effectiveness of stress management skills training on the academic vitality and psychological well-being of the students of Shahed University, the results of the univariate and multivariate analysis of covariance showed that stress management skills training had a significant impact on increasing the academic vitality and psychological well-being. The findings indicated that the stress management skills training had a major impact on increasing the academic life. It was consistent with different studies of Habibi M (2015), Pakdaman A, Ganji K, Ahmadzadeh M (2012), Shirbim Z, Sudani M, Shafi-Abadi A (2008) [ 12 - 14 ].

In explaining their similar finding, Pakdaman A, Ganji K, Ahmadzadeh M (2012) [ 13 ] also stated that life skills training helped in the improvement of the academic conditions of the subjects. In addition, this was because of this training, with growing different skills of the students, helping the students know their strengths and weaknesses, and overall, help the individuals move from weaknesses and skill deficits to capable and strong skills. Therefore, this could provide the students with better educational conditions [ 14 ]. In explaining their similar finding, Shafi-Abadi (2008) stated that teaching life skills, including stress management skills, are one of the ways to improve the mental health of the individuals of the community and to prevent harms. In fact, these teachings protected the health and mental hygiene of the society and protected it against diseases, disabilities, and disturbances in human relations. As a result, the feeling of security and solidarity increased among the members of the society, and then their senses of happiness, vitality, and health increased.

The findings showed that stress management skills’ training has a significant impact on the psychological well-being. It was consistent with the multiple studies of Qadiri-Bahramabadi F, Mikaeli-Manee F (2015), Qanbari N, Habibi M, Shams-Aldini S (2013), Alavi-Arjmand N, Kashaninia Z, Hosseini MA, Reza-Soltani P (2012), Chubforushzadeh A, Kalantari M, Molavi H (2009) [ 16 - 19 ].

In explaining their similar findings, Qadiri-Bahramabadi F, Mikaeli-Manee F (2015) [ 16 ] stated that facing numerous stresses required teaching and learning of appropriate stress management skills. In other words, during stress, individuals must know the necessary coping skills to reduce the effects of stress, and if the pressure was managed and the effective coping skills were applied, the person would be able to get along better with the needs and challenges of his/ her life. Therefore, the intervention of stress management led to the formation of good feelings about oneself, as well as a positive performance in the stable world. It created interest and motivation in people’s lives as well as increasing the self-confidence of the individuals. As a result, it increased the psychological well-being.

In explaining their similar finding, Qanbari N, Habibi M, Shams-Aldini S (2013) [ 17 ] stated that with the help of multiple strategies to manage stress such as relaxation, and muscular relaxation, stress and anxiety could be reduced. The individuals identified the somatic symptoms, and with mastering the ways to acquire relaxation, which was inconsistent with stress, reduced their anxiety and unpleasant feelings, thus increasing the psychological well-being. Also, in explaining their similar finding, Chubforushzadeh A, Kalantari M, Molavi H (2009) [ 19 ], stated that stress management treatments make multiple changes in the individual’s beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. Therefore, improving the individual’s evaluations and coping skills, and the provided practices to integrate the learned separations with real life situations could lead to a decrease in the perceived stress and an increase in the psychological well-being.


The authors would like to thank the venerable authorities of Shahed University of Tehran for their assistance. Also, the authors would like to thank all the participants in the study.

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Stress Management Essay for Students in English [Easy Words*]

January 25, 2021 by Sandeep

Essay on Stress Management: The word ‘stress’ was first used by a medical researcher named Selye in 1984 to educate people about the complex reactions in the human body when under pressure. It is a psychological response and utilizes abnormal levels of energy.

Essay on Stress Management 500 Words in English

Below we have provided Stress Management Essay in English, suitable for class 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10.

Stress is a complex phenomenon; medical scientist Selye (1984) used the term to describe the body’s biological reaction mechanisms. Selye defined stress as the body’s non-specific reaction to all demands. Stress is an adaptive answer to a stimulus in which the person has excessive psychological needs. In other words, stress represents a sense of fear, discomfort and depression that expresses those biochemical reactors in the human body and results in certain external forces, or the internal forces, that cannot be fulfilled by the means available to the individual. The level of stress depends on the ambient intensity or working style of a person. The so-called “stressors” are those environmental activities, circumstances or stimuli which induce stress; such stressors can be physical or emotional.

What is Stress Management?

Stress management means taking care of your thoughts, feelings, schedule, environment and how you handle problems. It is all about managing stress. The end goal is a healthy life, with time for jobs, friends, rest and recreation, and the desire to keep up and tackle obstacles. It is a broad spectrum of techniques and psychotherapies to control individuals’ level of stress, particularly chronic stress, usually to improve their everyday working.

Types of Stress

Acute Stress: Acute stress addresses the stresses of the near future or the very recent past. This type of stress is often misunderstood as unfavourable. Although this is true in some situations, it is also good to have particular acute stress in life. Running is called acute stressors, like some other type of action. Acute stress is a short-term threat that, as a result, has little time to weaken it.

Chronic Stress: Unlike acute stress, chronic stress is unusual. It affects people and can be a significant health concern because it lasts for a long time. Chronic stress can lead to loss of memory, spatial damage and a diminished food drive.

Strategies for Managing Stress

If a difficult situation cannot be stopped, try to improve it. Find out what you should do to change it so that the question will not emerge in the future. This also involves adjusting the way one communicates and acts in daily life.

Adjust yourself because you cannot change the stressors. Through adjusting your perceptions or mood, you can adapt to difficult circumstances and recover your sense of control.

There are unavoidable causes of stress. Stressors such a loving’s passing, a significant disease or a global crisis cannot be avoided or changed. The best way to deal with stress in these cases is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be challenging, but, in the longer term, it is easier than railing, you cannot change a situation.

You can reduce tension in your life by nurturing yourself, above and beyond a constructive outlook and mindset. If you make time for fun and rest days, you will be in a great position to cope with life stressors.

Through improving your physical fitness, you can increase your stress tolerance. Physical exercise plays a significant role in stress management and avoidance. Allow time, three days a week, for at least 30 minutes of exercise. It can help alleviate pent-up anxiety and stress from aerobic exercise.

Stress Among College Students: Causes, Effects and Overcomes Essay

Introduction, causes of stress in college students, effects of stress, overcoming stress, works cited.

Stress is a considerable problem in the modern society. People often experience high levels of stress due to being overwhelmed with a wide range of duties, such as work, studying, family duties, etc. In particular, college students are one group that is rather susceptible to stress, and can feel the adverse consequences of it very often (Brougham et al. 85); however, there are certain techniques that might help these learners overcome stress.

There are a number of causes of stress among college students (Lund et al. 127-129); according to Brougham et al., some of these causes include daily hassles, financial factors, and academic factors (90). The daily hassles that students are forced to deal with in the process of studying as identified by Brougham et al. are not directly related to college life; in fact, they include such problems as being stuck in traffic congestions, awakening too late in the morning, and the inability to find a place for parking (89). The financial causes of stress that college students are faced with include such issues as the need to pay one’s bills, the dearth of financial resources, and spending too much money when one should have not done so (Brougham et al. 89). Finally, the academic causes of stress, which are clearly specific to this population, include the need to write papers, especially final papers or assignments; worrying about the possibility to obtain low grades during an exam, or regret resulting from having received such; and difficulties related to the selection of one’s major (Brougham et al. 89). It is clear that students who are challenged with a large number of such stressors at the same time are more likely to develop a larger number of symptoms of stress, which have an adverse effect on these students’ ability to function effectively.

Due to stress, college students may experience such adverse outcomes as the decreased levels of cognitive functioning, the impaired ability to study, and, consequently, lower academic performance (Abdulghani et al. 516). First of all, the fact that a student is experiencing stress might have a considerable adverse effect on their ability to perform a wide range of cognitive functions, which are necessary for both proper social functioning and for participation in learning activities. Students who are stressed might feel too tired, not be able to think clearly, or unable to focus on the task at hand. Second, as a result of this, stressed learners may find themselves incapable of concentrating on learning activities and tasks, whether listening to a lecture, reading a book or article, or writing text.

Some students might also start feeling despair or experience depression, which creates further barriers for carrying out their academic duties. Finally, the inability to properly do the tasks related to learning results in decreased academic performance, leading to grades which are lower than those of learners who do not suffer from the symptoms of stress (Abdulghani et al. 517-520). It should be pointed out that the decreased academic performance, as has already been noted above, plays the role of a stressor as well, thus further impairing the learners’ ability to study. Therefore, apart from impairing the student’s ability to function, stress also accumulates and, to a certain degree, starts being the cause of itself.

Because of the serious impact of stress on the academic performance of college students, it might be recommended that students utilize coping strategies in order to decrease the level of stress (Jimenez et al. 444-447); one such strategy includes goal regulation (Neely et al. 88-89). Some authors state that goal regulation “consists of both the ability to disengage from goals that are unattainable and reengage in the pursuit of alternative goals” (qtd. in Neely et al. 89). There are a number of effects of this technique. First, a student who practices goal regulation is able to identify goals that are not attainable, and redirect their attention to aims that can be achieved in practice, which results in a more efficacious use of the temporal resources and the energy that a student possesses; consequently, students are less overwhelmed with tasks and thus may experience lower levels of stress.

Second, pursuing more concrete goals permits a student to direct their efforts towards these goals, thus considerably increasing their chance to achieve them; such an achievement can be viewed as a certain type of reward, thus increasing the student’s level of satisfaction and demonstrating them that they can achieve aims that they set. And finally, students who can disengage from pursuing unattainable and wasteful goals may be able to start “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”; in practice, they experience fewer intrusive thoughts and lower levels of helplessness (Neely et al. 89). Therefore, goal regulation has a considerable potential as a method for overcoming stress, for it permits students to better distribute their resources, gain certain achievements, and stop feeling helpless.

Thus, college students often suffer from stress, which can have profoundly adverse effects on their lives; however, certain techniques might allow these people to overcome this problem (Caldwell et al. 433-435). Numerous issues cause stress in college students; these include daily hassles, financial and academic factors. Stress can impair students’ cognitive function, the ability to learn, and decrease their academic performance. However, goal regulation might help them to overcome stress. It should also be noted that this and other techniques for stress coping might be useful not only for college students but for other populations as well.

Abdulghani, Hamza M., et al. “Stress and Its Effects on Medical Students: A Cross-Sectional Study at a College of Medicine in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition , vol. 29, no. 5, 2011, pp. 516-522.

Brougham, Ruby R., et al. “Stress, Sex Differences, and Coping Strategies Among College Students.” Current Psychology , vol. 28, 2009, pp. 85-97.

Caldwell, Karen, et al. “Developing Mindfulness in College Students Through Movement Based Courses: Effects on Self-Regulatory Self-Efficacy, Mood, Stress, and Sleep Quality.” Journal of American College Health , vol. 58, no. 5, 2010, pp. 433-442.

Jimenez, Cristobal, et al. “Stress and Health in Novice and Experienced Nursing Students.” Journal of Advanced Nursing , vol. 66, no. 2, 2010, pp. 442-455.

Lund, Hannah G., et al. “Sleep Patterns and Predictors of Disturbed Sleep in a Large Population of College Students.” Journal of Adolescent Health , vol. 46, 2010, pp. 124-132.

Neely, Michelle E., et al. “Self-Kindness When Facing Stress: The Role of Self-Compassion, Goal Regulation, and Support in College Students’ Well-Being.” Motivation and Emotion Journal , vol. 33, 2009, pp. 88-97.

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What is stress management?

Tip 1: identify the sources of stress in your life, tip 2: cut out unhealthy ways of dealing with stress, tip 3: practice the 4 a's of stress management, tip 4: get moving, tip 5: connect to others, tip 6: make time for fun and relaxation, tip 7: manage your time better, tip 8: maintain balance with a healthy lifestyle, tip 9: learn to relieve stress in the moment, stress management: how to reduce and relieve stress.

While it may seem like there’s nothing you can do about stress at work and home, there are steps you can take to destress and regain control.

stress management students essay

It may seem like there’s nothing you can do about stress. The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your work and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think.

If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your overall physical and mental health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life.

Effective stress management helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. But stress management is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you. The following stress management tips can help you do that.

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Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn't as straightforward as it sounds. While it's easy to identify major stressors such as changing jobs, moving, or going through a divorce, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more complicated. It's all too easy to overlook how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to your everyday stress levels.

Sure, you may know that you're constantly worried about work deadlines, but maybe it's your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that is causing the stress.

To identify what's really stressing you out, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

  • Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
  • Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”)?
  • Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

Start a stress journal

A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, make a note of it in your journal or use a stress tracker on your phone. Keeping a daily log will enable you to see patterns and common themes. Write down:

  • What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure).
  • How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
  • How you acted in response.
  • What you did to make yourself feel better.

Many of us feel so stressed out, we resort to unhealthy and unproductive ways to cope. A lot of these unhelpful strategies can temporarily reduce stress, but in the long run, they actually cause even more damage:

  • Smoking, drinking too much, or using drugs to relax.
  • Bingeing on junk or comfort food.
  • Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or phone.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and social activities.
  • Sleeping too much.
  • Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems.
  • Procrastinating.
  • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence).

[Read: Self-Medicating Depression, Anxiety, and Stress]

If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones that leave you feeling calm and in control.

While stress is an automatic response from your nervous system, some stressors arise at predictable times: your commute to work, a meeting with your boss, or family gatherings, for example. When handling such predictable stressors, you can either change the situation or change your reaction.

When deciding which option to choose in any given scenario, it's helpful to think of the four A's: avoid , alter , adapt , or accept .

Avoid unnecessary stress

It's not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed, but you may be surprised by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

Learn how to say “no.” Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.

Avoid people who stress you out. If someone consistently causes stress in your life, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship.

Take control of your environment. If the evening news makes you anxious, turn off the TV. If traffic makes you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.

Avoid hot-button topics . If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.

Pare down your to-do list. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

Alter the situation

If you can't avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don't voice your feelings, resentment will build and the stress will increase.

Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you'll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

Be more assertive.  Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.

Find balance. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.

Adapt to the stressor

If you can't change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.

Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

Practice gratitude. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life , including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

Accept the things you can't change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can't prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it's easier than railing against a situation you can't change.

Don't try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control, particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

Look for the upside. When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.

Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

Share your feelings. Expressing what you're going through can be very cathartic, even if there's nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist.

When you're stressed, the last thing you probably feel like doing is getting up and exercising. But physical activity is a huge stress reliever—and you don't have to be an athlete or spend hours in a gym to experience the benefits. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, and it can also serve as a valuable distraction from your daily worries.

While you'll get the most benefit from regularly exercising for 30 minutes or more, it's okay to build up your fitness level gradually. Even very small activities can add up over the course of a day. The first step is to get yourself up and moving. Here are some easy ways to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule:

  • Put on some music and dance around.
  • Take your dog for a walk .
  • Walk or cycle to the grocery store.
  • Use the stairs at home or work rather than an elevator.
  • Park your car in the farthest spot in the lot and walk the rest of the way.
  • Pair up with an exercise partner and encourage each other as you work out.
  • Play ping-pong or an activity-based video game with your kids.

Deal with stress with mindful rhythmic exercise

While just about any form of physical activity can help burn away tension and stress, rhythmic activities are especially effective. Good choices include walking, running, swimming, dancing, cycling, tai chi, and aerobics. But whatever you choose, make sure it's something you enjoy so you're more likely to stick with it.

While you're exercising, make a conscious effort to pay attention to your body and the physical (and sometimes emotional) sensations you experience as you're moving. Focus on coordinating your breathing with your movements, for example, or notice how the air or sunlight feels on your skin. Adding this mindfulness element will help you break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that often accompanies overwhelming stress.

There is nothing more calming than spending quality time with another human being who makes you feel safe and understood. In fact, face-to-face interaction triggers a cascade of hormones that counteracts the body's defensive “fight-or-flight” response. It's nature's natural stress reliever (as an added bonus, it also helps stave off depression and anxiety). So make it a point to connect regularly—and in person—with family and friends.

[Read: Social Support for Stress Relief]

Keep in mind that the people you talk to don't have to be able to fix your stress. They simply need to be good listeners. And try not to let worries about looking weak or being a burden keep you from opening up. The people who care about you will be flattered by your trust. It will only strengthen your bond.

Of course, it's not always realistic to have a pal close by to lean on when you feel overwhelmed by stress, but by building and maintaining a network of close friends you can improve your resiliency to life's stressors.

Tips for building relationships

  • Reach out to a colleague at work.
  • Help someone else by volunteering .
  • Have lunch or coffee with a friend.
  • Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly.
  • Call or email an old friend.
  • Go for a walk with a workout buddy.
  • Schedule a weekly dinner date.
  • Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club.
  • Confide in a clergy member, teacher, or sports coach.
  • Join a support group—either in-person or via on online therapy platform .

Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by carving out “me” time. Don't get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you'll be in a better place to handle life's stressors.

Set aside leisure time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.

Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.

Take up a relaxation practice. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body's relaxation response , a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the fight or flight or mobilization stress response. As you learn and practice these techniques, your stress levels will decrease and your mind and body will become calm and centered.

Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you're stretched too thin and running behind, it's hard to stay calm and focused. Plus, you'll be tempted to avoid or cut back on all the healthy things you should be doing to keep stress in check, like socializing and getting enough sleep. The good news: there are things you can do to achieve a healthier work-life balance.

Don't over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take.

Prioritize tasks. Make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority items first. If you have something particularly unpleasant or stressful to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.

Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.

Delegate responsibility. You don't have to do it all yourself, whether at home, school, or on the job. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. You'll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.

In addition to regular exercise, there are other healthy lifestyle choices that can increase your resistance to stress.

Eat a healthy diet . Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.

Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet , you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.

Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.

Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.

When you're frazzled by your morning commute, stuck in a stressful meeting at work, or fried from another argument with your spouse, you need a way to manage your stress levels right now . That's where quick stress relief comes in.

The fastest way to reduce stress is by taking a deep breath and using your senses—what you see, hear, taste, and touch—or through a soothing movement. By viewing a favorite photo, smelling a specific scent, listening to a favorite piece of music, tasting a piece of gum, or hugging a pet, for example, you can quickly relax and focus yourself.

[Read: Quick Stress Relief]

Of course, not everyone responds to each sensory experience in the same way. The key to quick stress relief is to experiment and discover the unique sensory experiences that work best for you.

More Information

  • Stress Management - Learn to manage your stress. (American Heart Association)
  • Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. (Harvard Health) - Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. (Harvard Health)
  • Tolerating Distress - Workbook and information sheets to help you manage feelings of distress. (Centre for Clinical Interventions)
  • Building Your Resilience - Learn how to increase your resilience in the face of stress and hardship. (American Psychological Association)
  • How To Relax: 8 Relaxation Tips for Your Mental Health
  • Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders. (2013). In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . American Psychiatric Association. Link
  • Can, Yekta Said, Heather Iles-Smith, Niaz Chalabianloo, Deniz Ekiz, Javier Fernández-Álvarez, Claudia Repetto, Giuseppe Riva, and Cem Ersoy. “How to Relax in Stressful Situations: A Smart Stress Reduction System.” Healthcare 8, no. 2 (April 16, 2020): 100. Link
  • Norelli, Samantha K., Ashley Long, and Jeffrey M. Krepps. “Relaxation Techniques.” In StatPearls . Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2021. Link
  • Toussaint, Loren, Quang Anh Nguyen, Claire Roettger, Kiara Dixon, Martin Offenbächer, Niko Kohls, Jameson Hirsch, and Fuschia Sirois. “Effectiveness of Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Deep Breathing, and Guided Imagery in Promoting Psychological and Physiological States of Relaxation.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2021 (July 3, 2021): e5924040. Link
  • Unger, Cynthia A, David Busse, and Ilona S Yim. “The Effect of Guided Relaxation on Cortisol and Affect: Stress Reactivity as a Moderator.” Journal of Health Psychology 22, no. 1 (January 1, 2017): 29–38. Link
  • Singh, Karuna. “Nutrient and Stress Management.” Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences 6, no. 4 (2016). Link
  • Katsarou, Alexia L., Marios M. Vryonis, Athanassios D. Protogerou, Evangelos C. Alexopoulos, Apostolos Achimastos, Dimitrios Papadogiannis, George P. Chrousos, and Christina Darviri. “Stress Management and Dietary Counseling in Hypertensive Patients: A Pilot Study of Additional Effect.” Primary Health Care Research & Development 15, no. 1 (January 2014): 38–45. Link
  • Errisuriz, Vanessa L., Keryn E. Pasch, and Cheryl L. Perry. “Perceived Stress and Dietary Choices: The Moderating Role of Stress Management.” Eating Behaviors 22 (August 1, 2016): 211–16. Link
  • Choi, Dong-Woo, Sung-Youn Chun, Sang Ah Lee, Kyu-Tae Han, and Eun-Cheol Park. “Association between Sleep Duration and Perceived Stress: Salaried Worker in Circumstances of High Workload.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15, no. 4 (April 2018): 796. Link
  • Blaxton, Jessica M., Cindy S. Bergeman, Brenda R. Whitehead, Marcia E. Braun, and Jessic D. Payne. “Relationships Among Nightly Sleep Quality, Daily Stress, and Daily Affect.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series B 72, no. 3 (May 1, 2017): 363–72. Link
  • Saleh, Dalia, Nathalie Camart, Fouad Sbeira, and Lucia Romo. “Can We Learn to Manage Stress? A Randomized Controlled Trial Carried out on University Students.” PLOS ONE 13, no. 9 (September 5, 2018): e0200997. Link
  • Loprinzi, Paul D., and Emily Frith. “Protective and Therapeutic Effects of Exercise on Stress-Induced Memory Impairment.” The Journal of Physiological Sciences: JPS 69, no. 1 (January 2019): 1–12. Link
  • Salmon, P. “Effects of Physical Exercise on Anxiety, Depression, and Sensitivity to Stress: A Unifying Theory.” Clinical Psychology Review 21, no. 1 (February 2001): 33–61. Link

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How to Manage Stress as a College Student

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Essay Sample on Causes and Effects of Stress on Students, With Outline

Published by gudwriter on January 4, 2021 January 4, 2021

Cause and Effects Essay Outline About Stress Among Students


Stress in students may have serious harmful effects and thus needs to be addressed.

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Paragraph 1:

One of the causes of stress in students is poor sleeping habits.

  • Students who do not get enough sleep at night or lack healthy sleeping habits are likely to develop stress.
  • Enough sleep allows the brain and body of a student to relax and recharge.
  • Lack of it can limit a student’s ability to learn, concentrate and solve problems.

Paragraph 2:

Student stress is caused by academic pressure.

  • They are given homework assignments.
  • They have classroom assignments and term papers that are supposed to be completed and submitted in strict deadlines.
  • Pressure to do well from those close to them such as family, friends, and teachers.

Paragraph 3:

Student stress may result from poor nutrition and unhealthy eating habits.

  • Stress-inducing foods are those that have high refined carbohydrates, sugar, caffeine, and fat.
  • A stress-reducing diet is made up of foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and fiber and low in fat content.

Paragraph 4: 

High stress levels could make students develop physical symptoms that could negatively affect their academic performance.

  • When a student experiences these symptoms, they might not feel the motivation they once felt about doing their best on academic tasks.
  • The symptoms are detrimental to the health of students.

Paragraph 5:

Stress makes students to have poor management skills.

  • A student could become disorganized and uncertain about their priorities and goals.
  • They become incapable of effectively budgeting and managing their time.
  • They develop a tendency of procrastinating and neglecting responsibilities.

Paragraph 6:

Stress leads to self-defeating thoughts.

  • A student under stress may consistently think about the adversity or negative situation in which they are.
  • They could constantly focus on their weaknesses and failures.

Paragraph 7: 

There are various stress management strategies students may take to reduce stress.

  • Get regular physical activity and practice.
  • Spend quality time with friends and family, and keeping a sense of humor.
  • Find time for such hobbies as listening to music, playing football, and reading a book.
  • Get enough sleep and consume balanced diet.
  • Stress in students cause serious negative effects, both physical and academic.
  • It results from poor sleeping habits, academic pressure, and poor nutrition and unhealthy eating habits.
  • It results into physical symptoms, poor management skills, and self-defeating thoughts.
  • Parents and teachers should work together to ensure that students do not experience much stress.

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A Cause and Effect Essay on Stress in Students

Stress is the natural response the human body gives to challenges. Students are exposed to stress by various factors. When a student undergoes chronic stress or high stress levels, their ability to learn, memorize, and post good academic performances can be interfered with regardless of their age or grade. Stress can also make a student experience poor mental, emotional, and physical health. Teachers and parents may help students avoid chronic stress in their lives if they learn about and develop a good understanding of common stressors. Stress in students may have serious harmful effects and thus needs to be addressed.

One of the causes of stress in students is poor sleeping habits. Compared to students who get plenty of sleep, students who do not get enough sleep at night or lack healthy sleeping habits are likely to develop stress. Enough sleep allows the brain and body of a student to relax and recharge. It also helps in ensuring that the immune system remains strong. On the other hand, lack of enough sleep can limit a student’s ability to learn, concentrate, and solve problems and can also make them more aggressive. According to Hales and Hales (2016), it is recommended by the National Sleep Foundation that young people, especially students, should maintain a regular sleep schedule and that they should sleep for between 8.5 and 9.25 hours per night.

Another major cause of student stress is academic pressure. As teachers prepare students for standardized tests, they give them homework even if the students are as young as six only. In addition to these homework assignments, there are classroom assignments and term papers that are supposed to be completed and submitted in strict deadlines. The pressure that comes from these assignments coupled with the desire by students to succeed academically culminates into stress. Students also experience pressure to do well in their academic work from those close to them such as family, friends, and even teachers (Raju, 2009). They therefore feel so much pushed that they even resort to academic dishonesty such as cheating in exams so as to match these high expectations.

A student’s stress levels can also increase due to poor nutrition and unhealthy eating habits. Foods that are associated with high stress levels in students include those that have high refined carbohydrates, sugar, caffeine, and fat. This is the case with many types of fast, processed, and convenience foods. Examples of foods that induce stress include French fries, white bread, processed snack foods, candy bars, donuts, energy drinks, and sodas (Kumar, 2015). A healthy stress-reducing diet is made up of foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and fiber and low in fat content. Examples of such foods include lean proteins, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

It is noteworthy that high stress levels can make students develop physical symptoms that could negatively affect their academic performance. These signs and symptoms include chest pain, elevated blood pressure, stomach upset, mumbled or rapid speech, nervous habits such as fidgeting, back and neck pains, tremors and trembling of lips, and frequent headaches (Kumar, 2015). When a student experiences these symptoms, they might not feel the motivation they once felt about doing their best in such academic tasks as completing assignments or preparing for tests. Moreover, the symptoms are detrimental to the health of students, a factor which may father make their academic fortunes to dwindle.

Stress also makes students to have poor management skills. A student could become disorganized and uncertain about their priorities and goals as a result of suffering from high levels of stress. This could further make them incapable of effectively budgeting and managing their time. Moreover, highly stressed students have the tendency to procrastinate and neglect such important responsibilities as meeting deadlines and completing assignments (Hales & Hales, 2016). This, of course, negatively impacts the quality of their academic work and study skills.

High stress levels could further lead to self-defeating thoughts among students. While undergoing stress, it is likely that a student may consistently think about the adversity or negative situation in which they find themselves. In addition, they could constantly focus on their weaknesses and failures while ignoring their strengths and achievements. These are self-defeating thoughts that not only deal a blow to their self-esteem but also affect how they behave and how they feel both as humans and as students (Patel, 2016). They result into a student lacking confidence in their abilities and this negatively impacts their success in school since they cannot perform to their highest potential.

There are various stress management strategies students may take to reduce stress. One of these is to get regular physical activity and practice such relaxation techniques as massage, tai chi, yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Students may also keep stress away by spending quality time with friends and family, and keeping a sense of humor. Another strategy may be to find time for such hobbies as listening to music, playing football, and reading a book. It is also important that one gets enough sleep and consumes balanced diet (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2019). These strategies may both alleviate and prevent stress among students.

Stress in students cause serious negative effects, both physical and academic. Students may experience stress due to poor sleeping habits, academic pressure, and poor nutrition and unhealthy eating habits. Students need enough sleep and less pressure for their brain to relax and recharge for it to function well. They also need to avoid stress-inducing foods such as fries and sodas. As has been seen, high stress levels could lead to physical symptoms, poor management skills, and self-defeating thoughts among students. As such, parents and teachers should work together in ensuring that students do not experience much stress because it is not good for their health and academic ability.

Hales, D., & Hales, J. (2016). Personal stress management: surviving to thriving . Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Kumar, N. (2015). Psychological stress among science students . New York, NY: Springer.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). “Stress symptoms: effects on your body and behavior”. Mayo Clinic . Retrieved March 27, 2020 from

Patel, G. (2016). An achievement motivation and academic anxiety of school going students . Lunawada: Red’shine Publication. Inc.

Raju, M. V. (2009). Health psychology and counselling . Delhi, India: Discovery Publishing House.

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Student Essays


Essay on Stress | Importance of Stress Management in Life

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Many people do not appreciate stress until it affects them. Stress management is a way to handle or deal with stress. This can be done through many ways such as: exercise, meditation and yoga. The goal of stress management is to improve the sense of well-being and reduce physical, emotional and mental problems. Stress management is not about eliminating stress but rather learning to cope with it.

List of Topics

Essay on Stress Management | Causes, Impacts of Stress & Ways to deal Stress in Life

Managing stress can help prevent health conditions such as pain, depression and diabetes. Stress management is a very broad term and it can be achieved through many different things. There are different types of stress management like: crisis, work and environmental. Stress can be caused by all kinds of things such as: everyday life, the economy, emotions, physical health, family responsibility, illness or personal crisis.

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Stress management is important because it can help reduce anxiety and depression. People who experience stress are more likely to have high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive problems and even obesity.

Importance of Stress  Management

Stress can help motivate and enhance performance. This is known as eustress, the good kind of stress. We experience this most often when we are in love. However, there is also a type of stress called distress. This is the kind of stress that leads to anxiety and depression which is the worst kind.

Stress is a part of everyday life and it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. There are many ways to manage stress and it is important to maintain a healthy balance. Stress management encourages people to give their bodies and minds what they need to function at their best. If you feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious it is helpful to take time to reflect and find a way to cope with these feelings.

Impacts of Stress on Life

Stress causes the release of stress hormones and these can cause a number of harmful impacts on students life such as poor academic performance, poor quality work and mental and physical illnesses.

Academic performance: Under stress, the mind and body become unable to function to their fullest potential. As a result, a student’s intellect and attentiveness to the subject matter may be unfocused and diminished. This lack of concentration can lead to poor performance in exams and assessments.

Health: Stress can also cause physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, etc. These symptoms may lead to the student taking sick leave from school. When a student is ill, their academic performance will also be lowered.

Mental illness: Long term stress can cause mental illness such as depression and may lead to a student’s withdrawal from school. In this way, their academic performance will also be hampered as they will not be able to focus on their studies.

Impacts of Stress on Self Confidence

The severe stress is linked to low self-esteem and a loss of confidence. This can lead to a person avoiding social situations and withdrawing from their friends, family and the community.

Manage Stress in Personal and Professional Life

Following are the ways through which one can hopefully manage stress in personal and professional life as well;

  • Identify the stressor: When you are overwhelmed with stress, take a moment to reflect on what is causing it. Once you have identified the stressor, you can then move on to finding a way to manage it.
  • Reduce clutter: Is your house cluttered with papers and clothes? Start by removing the clutter. Clutter can make even an organized individual feel overwhelmed. If you are always stressing over tidying up your house, you need to make time and work on this task.
  • Work out: Simply going for a walk or doing some stretches can help relieve stress. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins which improve mood and reduce stress.
  • Think positive: Stressful events are inevitable but how you respond to them is what counts. Negative thinking can have a bad impact on your overall mood. Try being positive no matter what the situation and it will help relieve stress.
  • Get enough sleep: Everyone has a different opinion of how much sleep they need to function at their best. If you are constantly feeling tired, taking a nap might help.
  • Listen to music: Listening to classical or soothing music can help you relax and take your mind off stressful thoughts.
  • Breathe: Yes, it is that simple! Deep breathing exercises can help clear your mind and help you feel more relaxed.
  • Bake: Baking is a great stress reliever and if anyone in your household loves to bake, have them help you whip up a sweet treat. You can even try your hand at baking or create a new recipe!
  • Develop a hobby: Everyone needs time to ruminate on their thoughts and enjoy themselves. Developing a hobby can help you relax and take your mind off of stressful events.
  • Be with friends and family: Having a bad day is a lot easier to deal with when you have the support from friends and family.
  • Manage time: Avoid putting too much on your plate when you have a lot going on in your life. Setting priorities will help you manage your time better.

Stress follows a simple pattern that is repeated in different forms throughout life like what you do when nothing seems to be working. If you can recognize this pattern, it becomes easier to manage stress.

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Stress management is the key element in our life. The better you manage stress the better your life would be. Therefore, its essential to manage stress for a healthy and balanced life.

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stress management students essay

Colleges Are Lying to Their Students

They aren’t teaching them “how to think.”

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If you’ve taken a college tour lately, either as an applicant or as the parent of an applicant, you may have noticed that at some point—usually as you’re on the death march from the aquatic center to the natural-sciences complex—the tour guide will spin smartly on her heel, do the college-tour-guide thing of performatively walking backwards, and let you in on something very important. “What’s different about College X,” she’ll say confidently, “is that our professors don’t teach you what to think. They teach you how to think.”

Whether or not you’ve heard the phrase before, it gets your attention. Can anyone teach you how to think? Aren’t we all thinking all the time; isn’t the proof of our existence found in our think-think-thinking, one banal thought at a time?

On Thinking for Yourself

The tour eventually ends, and in a couple of hours, you’re on another college campus, and while you’re marching from that institution’s climbing gym to its sophomore-student housing, a different tour guide spins on his heel, speeds up, and lets you in on his school’s secret: “What’s different about College Y,” he says—with what seems to be complete confidence that you haven’t heard such a thing before—“is that our professors don’t teach us what to think; they teach us how to think.”

Each of the guides seems to think this is a point of difference about his or her college, which is itself a sign that they have spent a lot more time in the “what to think” school of higher education than in the “how to think” one. When you’re visiting a college, walk through the corridors of some of the humanities departments. Look at the posters advertising upcoming events and speakers, read the course listings, or just stand silent in front of the semiotic overload of the instructors’ office doors, where wild declarations of what they think and what they plan to make you think will be valorously displayed.

Does this look like a department that is going to teach you how to think?

The truth of the matter is that no one can teach you how to think, but what they can do is teach you how to think for yourself.

To the extent that I have learned how to think for myself, it’s because my father taught me. Usually by asking me a single question.

For the love of God, I hated that question. And for some reason I always, always forgot to see it coming. My father was an academic and a writer who cared a great deal about teaching, and he was never off the clock.

There we’d be, chatting away, when some new subject or other would heave into view, and I’d launch into a long assessment of it. I’d be certain—absolutely positive—that I was right. My father would listen, head cocked a little to the side, often smiling a bit, sometimes raising his eyebrows after an especially bold point. For some reason, I would feel encouraged—not wary—and I’d bash ahead into bolder assessments.

Eventually, I’d run out of steam and finish up, with some sort of gesture meaning “case closed.”

There would be a moment of silence. And then my father would say—gently, because there was zero need to say it any other way: “And what is the best argument of the other side?”

The best argument of the other side! Jesus Christ— the other side? The whole point of the argument was to destroy the other side! I was there to illuminate and then devastate the other side by engaging deeply with the worst it had to offer.

Which is usually a light lift.

I had learned the style and the rhetorical turns of making a great case, but I didn’t know the first thing about fortifying it with facts, reason, logic—or the best argument of the side I was treating in such a cavalier way.

You don’t have to delve into the arcana of the Third Reich to destroy anyone making a case for it. But these layups rarely present themselves in decent places. Most of the time, the subjects we talk about are—for all of their flattening by cable news and internet wormholes and all the rest of it—extremely complicated.

A teacher should never do your thinking for you. She should give you texts to read and guide you along the path of making sense of them for yourself. She should introduce you to the books and essays of writers who disagree with one another and ask you to determine whose case is better.

Many college professors don’t want to do that today. They don’t want to “platform” a writer they think is wrong; they don’t want to participate in “both sides-ism.” The same thing is true for the students who pound on the doors of lecture halls and pull fire alarms and throw garbage cans down hallways to protest the 45-minute speech of a visitor.

They believe in sympathetic magic. They believe that words—even those spoken within a lecture hall—will damage them and their classmates. The truth is that they’re scared. They don’t think their ideas can outmatch those of the hated speaker.

Is there anything more satisfying than watching a debate in which the sophist gets defenestrated by someone smarter, better prepared, and obviously right?

Don’t bang on the doors of the lecture hall. Universities should book this character in the biggest auditorium they have. Broadcast him live on a campus radio station. Tell him the only requirement for his visit is that he engage in debate with a student—and then track down the young woman or man who owns this subject. And the professors who can help him or her to make the strongest possible case.

Do you think evil can stand up against that student’s case? It can’t.

The truth bats last.

In the broadest possible sense, “what’s wrong” with the modern American university is that although it still understands itself to operate under the model established by the 19th-century German university—which emphasized academic freedom, seminars, and laboratories as means of allowing students to discover the truth for themselves—it’s becoming a parody of that model. The professors are going to tell you what to think, and you’re going to backfill that “truth” with research of your own.

To college-bound students, I would say this: The college campus is full of salesmen eager to get you to buy the deluxe model without so much as a test drive. But it’s your life and your mind, and—as of present writing—you have every right to think and speak and write for yourself. You’re needed out here.

This essay is adapted from the introduction to the book On Thinking for Yourself: Instinct, Education, Dissension .

stress management students essay

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