Self-Care Strategies for Students to Reduce Stress

a relaxing planner set up with flowers and candles

Introduction

Student life can get busy, making it difficult to balance academics, extracurriculars, and personal relationships. We've put together a series of blog posts for students, with strategies to manage common obstacles and a Free Academic Planner Download to help you get organized.

Stress and Mental Health

This article focusses on strategies for students to reduce stress and maintain their mental health while in school. Academic life comes with a lot of uncertainty, and students can sometimes feel inadequate or directionless. During stressful periods in the school year, essential self-care like sleep and exercise are often neglected; and feelings of low self-worth can escalate into more serious mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression.


Here are some approaches to care for your wellbeing while juggling school and academic commitments:

Neurodiversity and Understanding Your Limitations

Each mind works differently, a concept known as neurodiversity. Understanding your cognitive and learning style can help you find strategies that complement your way of processing information. This might mean scheduling more breaks if you have a shorter attention span, or allocating extra time for challenging subjects. Effective planning is rooted in setting realistic expectations based on your personal capabilities and circumstances.

Practice Self-Compassion

It can be easy to fall into the trap of perfectionism, so it's important to practice self-compassion. When things don't go as planned, remind yourself that mistakes and setbacks are part of the learning process. Our achievements don't define our worth, and self-care isn't something to be withheld when we encounter failure. Acknowledge your efforts, learn from your missteps, and move forward with a better understanding of yourself.

Celebrate Small Victories

Recognizing and rewarding yourself for your successes can boost your confidence, maintain your motivation, and strengthen your commitment to your goals. If you are struggling to find things to celebrate, try making a list of small tasks you completed in the past week, and check them off as achievements you accomplished. Sometimes we don't realize how much work it can take to just get through the week!

Use a Planner as a Self-Care Tool

Planners are known to reduce stress for students by helping them manage their school timetable. But they are also great for reflecting on personal values, tracking goals and building habits! Here are some suggestions for how you can use a planner to support your well-being:

Set Goals and Build Discipline

Writing down short-term and long-term goals can be a good way to stay motivated. Review your goals and track your progress using a planner, while developing consistency for healthy habits. The regular use of planners can help build accountability and discipline. Using a planner or journal is a commitment to better manage time, reflect on personal growth, and navigate student life with a clear, organized mindset.

Reflect on Personal Values

Planners can also be used as journals to align daily activities with values and gain clarity on personal direction. 


If you're unsure which values are important to you, try looking through a list of adjectives and choosing 10-20 words that stand out to you. From there, identify any patterns in the words you selected. 


As you gain awareness of your personal values, pay attention to your actions and whether they align with your principles. The stress of school can sometimes cause students to lose sight of their big picture. Keeping in touch with our values helps to stay motivated and avoid burnout.

Creative Outlet for Stress Relief

Journaling can be a therapeutic activity, reducing mental clutter by providing a private space to express thoughts and emotions. Planners and journals are often used as an outlet for creative expression, whether through drawing, writing or other artistic mediums. Moreover, art therapy has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, making it a productive strategy for students seeking ways to relieve stress.

Seeking Support When Needed

The pressure of academics combined with extracurricular demands can lead to stress and burnout, a common issue during a busy semester. There’s no doubt that managing multiple responsibilities can be very challenging during the school year, but it's important to set aside time to take care of your mental health – even if it seems like there's always something more urgent to do first.


Sometimes, self-care is about knowing when to ask for help. Whether it’s seeking advice from a counselor, reaching out to friends and family, joining a support group, or using helplines and campus resources, don’t hesitate to reach out. Everyone needs help sometimes, and it’s a sign of strength to recognize when you need it and to take action.

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a student workspace with planner spread and time management tools
a student workspace with planner spread and time management tools

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