Reduce Stress

Reduce Stress


College can be a time for enjoyment, but it can also create various stressors. This stress doesn’t have to weigh you down. The strategies and information below can help you manage your academic stress levels and increase your confidence.

Be Resilient

Academic resilience is the ability to overcome obstacles in the face of adversity. The way we think is essential to resilience. In order to build academic resilience, you may need to retrain your brain and the way you think by working on mindset and grit.

Mindset matters. Often, we are stuck in something called a fixed mindset. We believe certain things about ourselves can’t change; therefore, we don’t try to change them. However, a growth mindset embraces the fact that any area you put time and effort into can improve. 

Fixed versus Growth Mindset Statements 

Instead of... Try Thinking...
I'm not good at this. What am I missing?
I give up. I'll use a different strategy.
It's just good enough. Is this my best work?
This is too hard. This may take some time.
Who am I to be smart, talented ... ? Who am I not to be?
My plan failed. It's over. There's always a Plan B.
Why can't I do it like [someone else you admire]? What do they know that I don't know? I will learn from them.


Growth Mindset Videos

View these videos if you would like more information about growth vs. fixed mindset and how to develop a growth mindset.

Pathway Transformation Initiative - Growth Mindset

4 Steps to Developing a Growth Mindset


Angela Duckworth defines "Grit" as passion and perseverance to achieve long term goals. As a college student, you may encounter challenges and setbacks along the way, but having true grit will help keep you focused, motivated, and confident.

The video below provides information about Grit and why it’s so important.

Grit by Angela Duckworth: The 3 Principles of Hard Work


Use the Angela Duckworth Grit Scale to see how gritty you are and to get ideas on how to get even grittier.



Explore Tips and Strategies

If you are short on time or unable to access other resources on campus, here are some quick tips and strategies you can try on your own at your convenience. When it comes to online and remote learning, some tips and tools may need to be modified. For example, instead of meeting friends in person, you may need to meet online. Many of these tips and tools can be accessed individually and in almost any location.

Breathing deeply synchronizes your breathing for relaxation and anxiety control. It can help counteract the ‘fight or flight’ response that occurs when we are feeling stressed. It allows for full oxygen exchange, slows your heart rate, and lowers your blood pressure. Follow the GIF below to help time your breathing.Breathe gif

Making a plan can help you combat feelings of being overwhelmed by making your tasks more manageable. Follow the directions below and consider using our Master To-Do List (Accessible Version) to help guide your plan. 

  • Start by making a list of to-dos
  • Next, break down your to-dos into smaller steps that are easier to manage.
  • From there, prioritize which steps should be completed first, and map out how you’re going to progress through the steps you’ve identified.
  • Finally, start completing your small steps to move action forward.

Connecting with others may look different if you’re learning remotely rather than in person, but it’s important to keep in touch with friends and family. Staying with touch with others brings a wealth of support and comfort. You can plan get-togethers via Zoom, FaceTime, or other apps that allow you to see and talk to loved ones.

Laughter is good medicine and so is time for recreational play, whether this includes games, exercise, or watching a fun movie. It’s important to make time for the small things that can uplift us in a time of stress.


Test Anxiety

From blocking your working memory to making you feel stressed and unfocused, test anxiety can definitely complicate your testing experience. See the following tips to help you adjust and lower your test anxiety.

How we feel affects how we think, and how we think affects our behavior. See the section on resilience above for more examples of fixed and growth mindsets and to learn tips for how you can develop a growth mindset.

Find or create a phrase or statement you find motivating. Write it down and place it somewhere you’ll see every day, such as your bathroom mirror or on the wall of your bedroom.

Having a lot of anxious thoughts? Take a moment to write down your concerns and worries on small pieces of paper. Then, actually throw them in the trash! This gives you a physical and symbolic release of your worries and may help clear your mind.

Stress is a normal response! However, you want to consider if it’s fueling or depleting your efforts. Consider the graph below. Are you feeling focused and motivated? Are you feeling burnt-out and fatigued? Evaluating how your stress makes you feel will help you determine if you need to implement strategies, or perhaps see a counselor to help you stay within a healthy range of stress. 

Stress Level vs. Performance ChartAdaptation of the Hebbian version of the Yerkes-Dodson law