What Are Good Stress Coping Mechanisms For Students?

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Students are under a lot of academic pressure along with other challenges they face in their everyday lives which often leads to stress. Here in this article, we will provide you with a few coping mechanisms for students with stress.


Students experience a lot of stress but not all stress is bad, as there is positive and negative stress. To get more details about this Careers Portal went to speak to Shawco, UCT's Student Health and Welfare organisation, and we sat down to film a video with Kathy.

We learnt that positive stress, known as eustress is stress that motivates you to do things such as complete an assignment or start a new job.

When students experience high levels of stress, it is known as Distress (Negative Stress) which can impact their academic performance negatively. An example of this is when you feel too stressed while studying, there is a likelihood that you will not remember what you studied.

Negative stress can impact you mentally and physically as it could lead to violent outbursts, chest pains or fast heart rates. This would basically be your body's way of letting you know that you are under high levels of stress.

Common symptoms of stress are:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Tension in neck muscles and lower back
  • Stomach problems or feeling nauseous
  • Sweaty hands
  • Headaches

Here are a few stress coping mechanisms for students:

Time Management

For students who may feel stressed during exams, you can plan a schedule where you can prioritize studying as well as allocate time for having fun. A planned out schedule will make you feel less stressed and allow you to manage your time in a way that benefits you.


This does not need to be an extensive exercise programme, something as simple as brisk walking or doing jumping jacks can help reduce stress levels.

Breathing Techniques

Breathing exercises can reduce stress by increasing oxygen exchange, which reduces your blood pressure, slows the heart, and releases any tension held in the abdomen. An example of an effective breathing technique is the triple five. 

Here's how you can do the triple five breathing technique 

  • Breathe in for 5 seconds
  • Breathe out for 5 seconds
  • Rest for 5 seconds

Music & Sleep

Listening to music while taking a break can reduce stress as it calms the body. Another effective way to reduce stress is to sleep the required 8 hours which will balance the stress hormone called cortisol and release all the tension in your body.

Learn more about Shawco here

Have a look below to see the full Careers Portal video with Kathy from SHAWCO. We discussed stress, how stress affects people, how to identify when you are not coping with stress and what coping mechanisms you can use to cope with stress.

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