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How to Reduce Stress and Succeed in School for Students

Updated on February 25, 2013
High stress levels mean students are less likely to succeed.
High stress levels mean students are less likely to succeed. | Source

Relax and Do Well in School

School is stressful for high school students and college students alike--struggling to maintain a certain GPA, joining extracurricular activities to fill out a resume, and managing a social life can all take their toll. There aren't enough hours in the day, and the constant pressure to pack everything in while doing it perfectly can be highly stressful. Stress, of course, leads to less than optimum performance--so stress and success are inversely related!

The higher your stress, the less your success, and vice versa. The secrets to managing stress include getting enough sleep, working in exercise and a healthy diet, and prioritizing (part of this includes learning to say no). Read on for how to minimize stress while maximizing success.

Taking a cat nap is not just for cats--a thirty-minute snooze can rejuvenate your energy and improve your mood.
Taking a cat nap is not just for cats--a thirty-minute snooze can rejuvenate your energy and improve your mood. | Source

Getting Adequate Sleep to Lessen Stress

If you've ever spent a sleepless night, you remember how terrible you felt in the morning--irritable, annoyed, and sad are just a few of the emotions that are natural to feel after not getting enough sleep. If you add a busy day after a sleepless night, those emotions are heightened--as are your stress levels. Trying to perform at peak levels, whether in class or on a sports field, when you're exhausted is almost impossible, and feelings of failure or inadequacy may heighten your stress as well.

Now, add in the time crunch high school or college students experience--high school students are vying to get into college, which means being involved in every extracurricular possible while maintaining a great GPA and doing volunteer work. For college students, maintaining a GPA can be integral to getting a good job--but unlike when they were back at home, there's no one nagging them to go to bed. That means students in both of these categories don't get enough sleep with any sort of consistency.

Here's how to get more sleep, perform better, and lessen stress while increasing your chances to succeed:

  • Don't do anything in your bed but sleep--eventually your mind will associate the bed with slumber, and you will fall asleep more quickly (this means no reading in bed, no watching TV, etc.).
  • Engage in quiet activities around two hours before bedtime--no exercise!
  • Limit caffeine starting in the afternoon (that one's a no-brainer).
  • Keep to regular hours, so that you will naturally start to become sleepy around the same time each day.
  • Try a natural sleep aid, like melatonin.
  • Refresh yourself with a "power nap" once a day.

Getting more sleep is hard to give advice on--the only way to do it is, just simply, to do it. Note that stress and sleep are viciously related--stress can make you alert and awake, keeping you from sleep, while lack of sleep can make you stressed. If you manage your time, learn to say no, and stick to a healthy diet and exercise regimen, your stress levels will decrease and you will sleep better.

Maintaining a healthy exercise and diet regimen can improve your mood and help alleviate stress.
Maintaining a healthy exercise and diet regimen can improve your mood and help alleviate stress. | Source

Sticking to a Healthy Diet and Exercise Plan to Lessen Stress

Living a sedentary lifestyle and subsisting on fast food or processed food takes its toll--not only on your weight, but on your mental state. If your body is not getting the TLC it needs, your mood will plummet, you won't perform up to your potential, and your stress will skyrocket.

Exercising for thirty minutes to an hour three or four times a week will not only burn calories, but will release endorphins and relieve stress.

Eating nutritious, balanced meals will give you the vitamins and nutrients your body and brain need to stay alert and perform at the highest levels. You can push yourself and study hard, but learning will be much easier if you're treating yourself right physically.

Drinking enough water is also an important component of staying healthy--being dehydrated can leave you feeling draggy, exhausted, and headachy.

Part of minimizing stress and discovering how to succeed as a student is advice that every person, regardless of where they are in life, should follow: live healthy.

Making a schedule can help a student prioritize, and prioritizing responsibilities is one way to both reduce stress and succeed.
Making a schedule can help a student prioritize, and prioritizing responsibilities is one way to both reduce stress and succeed. | Source

Prioritizing (And Saying No) As a Way to Lessen Stress

Part of being young and a student is the thrill of a social life--making memories with your friends, engaging in new experiences, and just reveling in the freedom of being able to make your own choices as to when and where to have fun.

However, a social life can be just as much of a stress point as a hard class or a long term paper. When you're already juggling so many responsibilities, going to a party can leave you with a strange mix of stress and guilt, even if you're having fun.

If you're a student who is determined to succeed, you will have to learn to prioritize your responsibilities and learn how to say no to your peers.

  • Make a schedule and stick to it--schedule social time and study time. If a social event comes up that you really want to attend, make sure to add more "study" time to your schedule later in the week.
  • Don't procrastinate--tackle large projects and assignments before you do the small ones, and start everything well before it's due (easier said than done, but once you get into the habit you'll wonder how you ever handled the stress of procrastination in the first place).
  • Learn to say "no" to your friends. This can be hard, especially if they're pushy or think you're lame for choosing school over going out. That's okay--they may work for you one day, and you can just smile smugly to yourself when that happens.

If you prioritize your time, you will decrease your stress levels because you won't face as many pressing deadlines. Once your stress levels decrease, you will be able to focus more and succeed in your endeavors.

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    • SaffronBlossom profile imageAUTHOR

      SaffronBlossom 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      @DIYmommy--I wasn't super-healthy in college, but by law school my metabolism had slowed down and I started eating better. It was definitely hard though! Because campuses are surrounded by easy-to-get fast food that is so tempting. :) @Purpose Embraced: It is definitely hard to exercise when you're in school and studying all the time! One thing that worked for me was to pay for an exercise class...then I actually went because I felt guilty when I didn't.

    • Purpose Embraced profile image

      Yvette Stupart PhD 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      I agree with your caution against living a sedentary lifestyle while studying. I must confess I am mostly inactive when I study. I get so bogged down with the academic workload and other commitments, and that certainly is not good for me.

    • DIYmommy profile image

      Julie 

      6 years ago

      While I did end up doing well in Nursing school, I do wish I would have maintained a more active and robust (as well as, healthy) lifestyle. Not to make excuses, but in college, I was seemingly surrounded by beer and pizza non-stop. Though that food may be nice once a week or so, I do think that student's could benefit greatly from a healthy diet.

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