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Managing Stress


At one time or another, almost all college students experience some form of stress.

But there are two kinds of stress:  The kind that fuels inspiration, drives work and motivates students to succeed; and the kind that becomes overwhelming and impedes students’ progress in college.

When or why do students become stressed to the point that it is unhealthy? It’s likely that there is more than one answer, but several commonalities exist.

Students can become stressed when they do not have enough time, or perceive that they do not have enough time, to do their honest best at college. Lack of sleep, an unhealthy diet, and not making time to exercise or relax with friends will increase stress.

Students get stressed when their focus is too small or too narrow, and they can’t see an issue in the larger context of life.  When college students experience great amounts of stress, they become overwhelmed.

Other common stressors in college include:

  • Greater academic demands than in high school
  • Being away from home
  • Being on one’s own in a new environment, with new responsibilities
  • Financial responsibilities
  • Changes in family relations and one’s social life
  • Exposure to new people, new ideas and temptations
  • Preparing for life after graduation

Other factors can compound stress, such as becoming ill, working many hours a week, or a chronic medical or mental health condition that requires extra time to do schoolwork.

Tips for Managing Stress

Be organized

  • Create a living space with a place to focus and concentrate on schoolwork. Have a desk where you can keep everything you need for school in one place. It is important to keep your living and study spaces organized.
  • If roommates are noisy, find a place in the library or at MIAD to study.

Manage your time wisely

  • Use a calendar so that you can visualize when you have time to do schoolwork, sleep, work at a job and have time for self and friends.
  • Use a planner or a small sketchbook to write what you have to do for homework (daily to-do lists) and when assignments are due.
  • Avoid procrastination. Do your schoolwork before social activities.

Maintain a health lifestyle

  • Plan 20 minutes each day to be outside, exercise or just go for a short walk.
  • Eat a good healthy breakfast, and well-balanced meals with more whole grains, nuts, and fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid caffeine and reduce refined sugar consumption
  • Get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
  • Spend time each day with one relaxation technique, whether yoga, meditation or other personally meaningful expression.

Getting Help

It’s important to note that stress is a process that builds, and it is therefore more effective to get help early rather than later.  Without help, stress can become overwhelming.

MIAD’s Learning Resource Center

The staff in MIAD’s Learning Resource Center helps students identify the issues creating their stress, and then steers students to resources to help them address it. Students receive tutoring in time management strategies, organization and study skills, as well as writing and research. Tutoring is available Monday-Friday. For more information or to make an appointment, contact Cathryn Wilson, Coordinator of Learning Support Services (

If you are experiencing stress that markedly affects or impairs functioning on a daily basis, you may need professional help. At MIAD, contact Jennifer Crandall, Associate Dean of Students (, or Rebecca Skupien, Student Accessibility Counselor (

Marquette University Counseling Center is another resource. Marquette University Counseling Center provides individual short-term counseling to MIAD students free of charge. All services are confidential. Phone: 414-288-7172. The center is open from 8:00am – 4:30pm and is located at 1324 W. Wisconsin Ave. Room 204 of Holthusen Hall.