Stressed Students: How to Help?

It's common to find stressed students. As adult role models, we can help mitigate this state. Learn how in the following article.
Stressed Students: How to Help?

Last update: 09 December, 2022

A good part of high school and university students are stressed. In fact, stress is one of the most common health problems in today’s society. It’s a tension that arises from the relationship between a person and a situation or context that’s perceived as threatening. So, what can we do to help stressed students?

Adolescents and young adults who are involved in formal academics suffer the consequences of stress, which usually involves a series of emotions that aren’t pleasant, such as worry, anger, insecurity, and anxiety. As parents or teachers, we can help them face this stage of life in a more functional way in order to take care of their well-being. Learn how in the following article.

What is academic stress?

Academic stress is the response to the demands that students face in their learning spaces. This may be due to exams and practical work, or even to the class load.

The academic environment represents a space susceptible to being interpreted as threatening, as certain factors come into play such as fear of rejection, ambition to obtain excellent grades, and the desire to meet one’s own expectations of those of the family.

The main physical and psychological manifestations of stressed students are the following:

  1. Physical manifestations: Migraines, muscle tremors, nail biting, fatigue, excessive sweating, or digestion problems.
  2. Psychological manifestations: Concentration problems, mental blocks, anxiety, restlessness, irascibility.
A college student feeling overwhelmed and tired.
Currently, most students suffer from academic stress. Among other causes, this occurs because of self-demands or pressure to meet family expectations.

How to help stressed students

While stress at measured levels helps students respond effectively and improve their academic performance, too much stress has the opposite effect. Having too many internal demands (such as perfectionism, rigidity, or the need for control) or external demands (such as institutional demands or parental expectations) fosters a generalized sense of discomfort in young people. Let’s see what we can do, from our role as parents or teachers, to help stressed students get some mental relief.

1. Help with organization and time management

When there’s a lack of organization, worries are perceived as much more serious than they really are. There doesn’t seem to be enough time between exams, as there are books to read, exercises to do, and papers to write. However, the problem often lies not in a lack of time, but in a lack of focus. A good alternative for time management is the Pomodoro method, which serves to optimize study time and achieve concentration. It’s essential that students establish a realistic action plan aimed at specific objectives. To achieve this, they should learn to prioritize by differentiating what is urgent or important from what is secondary.

2. Provide support beyond grades

Often, stressed students are particularly concerned about the numerical values of their grades. As such, they dismiss the learning process and focus on the grade. While it’s valid and to be expected that they want good grades, this shouldn’t cost them their emotional equilibrium. Young people need the adults around them to be able to allow them to make mistakes.

The pressure students feel from the outside is often a major factor and has a significant impact on their mental health. Therefore, they need unconditional support from their parents, regardless of the results. In this regard, parents face a great challenge: Reviewing the expectations they place on their children.

3. Encourage leisure time and rest

Stress decreases significantly when there’s time for leisure. On the contrary, abandoning leisure activities and rest time are unhealthy choices during high school or college. So, if we see that our child’s sleeping very little lately or has stopped seeing their friends because they won’t stop studying, we can approach them and suggest that they take a break.

Three teenagers lying backwards on a couch, holding hands, and laughing.
It’s essential for young people to maintain their spaces for recreation and socialization. In this regard, taking care of physical and mental rest contributes to stress reduction.

4. Mitigate excessive demands

Stressed students tend to live with a constant feeling of guilt that’s sustained in a pattern of behaviors that tend to be hyper-demanding. Therefore, they overexert themselves to the point of not tolerating a single bad grade. In turn, when they don’t study, their thoughts become catastrophic and tormented. It’s then that the feeling of guilt appears.

As parents or teachers, we can help young people to mitigate this style of behavior and transmit the importance of allowing themselves not to be perfect. In parallel, they should be guided in developing or improving their self-esteem through genuine comments or appraisals.

5. Help in stress reduction through mindfulness

In terms of stress reduction itself, we can choose to bring different tools to young people such as meditation and Mindfulness. If you’re not yet familiar with these terms, it’s time to start practicing them, as they’re deeply valuable practices when it comes to increasing the sense of well-being and reducing stress.

Mindfulness is a cognitive attentional strategy used to promote psychological health and is based on the training of mindfulness as a skill that contributes to holistic well-being.

Sometimes it’s asking for professional help is necessary

Often, parents don’t know how to help their children with mental health problems. In this case, it’s important to ask for specialized help. If the child’s going through their high school or college experience with deep discomfort and stress, it may be necessary to seek the help of a psychologist to work on this issue. As a first instance, the professional will inquire about the causes of this state and together they’ll be able to build resources to manage the stress that arises from academics.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Águila, B.A., Castillo, M.C., Monteagudo de la Guardia, R., Achon, Z.N (2015) Estrés académico. EDUMECENTRO 2015;7(2):163-178ISSN 2077-2874RNPS 2234.
  • Berrio García, N., & Mazo Zea, R. (2012). Estrés Académico. Revista De Psicología Universidad De Antioquia3(2), 55–82. Recuperado a partir de
  • Pardo, J. (2008). Estrés en estudiantes de Educación Social. Indivisa. Boletín de estudios e investigación, 9, 9-22.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.