Home > Career > Students > How to Cope When You Feel Too Stressed to Study

How to Cope When You Feel Too Stressed to Study

Stress will ruin your ability to learn, which will ruin your grades. Here are 6 ways to cope when you feel too stressed to study. These stress management tips are about better time management, because stress is caused by feeling out of control.

The more in control you feel – especially if you need to learn how to study when you can’t focus – the less stressed and anxious you’ll feel. If you relax, you’ll be able to focus on learning what you need to know and getting good grades.

Focus is the key to developing good study habits. Why not learn from the most successful science fiction writer in the world? Isaac Asimov said, “Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up. Well, maybe once.” Cute, huh? One of the best ways to manage stress is to laugh. Make time in your schedule to watch funny movies, such as Date Night starring Tina Fey. Or watch a few episodes of 30 Rock or Friends or whatever makes you laugh and forget about school for awhile.

If you tend to freeze or feel paralyzed during exams – especially timed ones – read How to Deal With Performance Anxiety. It’s written for musicians performing on stage, and will help you cope with stress.

Learning how to manage stress is the key to getting good grades in college. So, let’s figure this thing out!

How to Cope When You Feel Too Stressed to Study

If you’re too stressed to study because of financial problems, read 10 Highest Paying Jobs for College Students.

1. Decide if poor time management is a source of college stress

If you’re stressed and anxious because you can’t keep up with your coursework, labs, extracurricular activities, work, and family obligations, then you need to focus on managing your time better. Poor time management involves procrastinating, underestimating the time it takes to complete tasks, and spending a lot of time on details that don’t matter. And that’s why time management tips decrease stress: when you have enough time to study, you feel less anxious and stressed — and you get better grades.

2. Create a schedule that suits your personality, college schedule, and lifestyle

When I was too stressed to study in college, I created a schedule that gave me time to work at my outside job, time to study, and time to play. I found that breaking my schedule into 30 or 60 minute chunks of time worked best — because even if I really really really didn’t want to study for a particular course, I knew I could study for just 30 or 60 minutes. And I wouldn’t stop if the studying was going well, which helped me get good grades in college. Creating a schedule is one of the best ways to succeed at college because it gives you structure and control.

3. Find ways to empower yourself at college

The more power you have in your life (even perceived power), the less stress you’ll feel. Research shows that the amount of control you have in your life directly affects the amount of stress and anxiety you feel. Why are you too stressed to study at college? Are you overwhelmed by your class schedule, paid work responsibilities, or family obligations? Are you shy and nervous — do you need help overcoming anxiety about being in college? Finding ways to empower yourself will help with stress management.

4. Protect yourself from unplanned study breaks

Too Stressed to Study

Too Stressed to Study?

Not only did I have a study schedule in college, I have a work schedule now (I’m a full-time freelance writer and blogger). Before I created my current work schedule, I kept Twitter, email, my blogs, and various forums open on my laptop. If I got “stuck” for an idea or phrase, I’d surf through all those applications, which made me less productive and more stressed. Now I check email, Twitter, etc, at set times of the day. One of the best college stress management tips is to avoid surfing the internet, answering the phone, answering the door, or doing anything while you’re studying. Focusing on what you’re studying will help you get good grades in college.

5. Take 30 or 60 minutes a day to PowerJournal

This is another good stress management tip for college students, from The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth and Purpose. My first hour of the day is spent writing in my journal, planning my workday and week, expressing my fears, frustrations, and achievements, and setting my personal and professional intentions. PowerJournaling allows me to clear my head of the fluff and focus on what matters. Taking time to think keeps you in tune with yourself, which is one of the best ways to manage stress and anxiety in college.

6. Build time into your daily schedule to work on your strengths

I love Marcus Buckingham’s advice to work on our strengths and not worry about our weaknesses! He’s the author of Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance, and he encourages people to maximize their strengths. For instance, my strength is writing blog posts and learning about search engine optimization. My weaknesses is visiting other blogs and commenting (which is supposed to be a great way to market your blog). So instead of worrying about my weaknesses, I focus on my strengths. This empowers me and makes me feel in control of my career goals, which reduces my stress and anxiety.

If you have any thoughts on being too stressed to study or managing college stress, please comment below…and may you find ways to deal with your stress so you can study and get through college.


Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me!

Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “How to Cope When You Feel Too Stressed to Study”

  1. Awesome, thank you so much for these tips, Jess! I wove them into my updated blog post for college students who are too stressed to study:

    How to Study When You Can’t Focus – College Students

    I really like your idea of planning in advance. You sound like you’re so dedicated and smart! And, you’re motivated to succeed. Thanks again for sharing not just your knowledge and wisdom, but your energy as well 🙂

  2. A stress survival tactic I used in college was to try to prepare for classes in advance as much as possible. In many electrical engineering classes, large projects due at the end of the semester. I found it extremely frustrating and stressful to have to simultaneously learn the course material, learn how to use the design software (tools), and to complete a good design. Learning by doing is a good thing, but jumping into a project before you really understand the design flow, or even the basic principles involved is a very stressful and frustrating way to learn. The stress, time-pressure, and mental exhaustion make an already difficult situation worse. High workloads at the end of the semesters cause a significant portion of engineering majors to burn-out and switch majors.

    My solution to dealing with the end of semester stress? Start early. Procrastination is a killer in engineering colleges. I would go so-far as to buy textbooks in advance and study on my own during the summer and winter breaks to get a head-start on the classes for the next semester. I would also download the freebie or 30-day trial licensed versions of the software that was going to be used in the next semester’s classes and run through some beginner tutorials. I even bought a couple of books on how to use some software to help me scale the learning curve.

    I’ll admit, I am probably not the fastest learner. That’s why I had to adopt the pro-active “pre-study” strategy. That was a way I was able to reduce the stress of learning; Learn most of the basic material before the semester even begins on my own, then focus my energy on the projects during the semester. So many students short-change themselves when it comes to actually learning and understanding the course material. They do it because there isn’t enough time to learn the subject well. That kind of strategy is unacceptable to me. If I need to slow down a little bit instead of glossing over the details, so be it. Slow does not equate to dumb. I received the high score on the fundamentals of engineering exam the year I took it. I didn’t even study that much for it. I was able to remember most of the material from the classes I had taken.