Stress and Coping Strategies

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The ability to effectively manage stress is a key part of academic success. The information presented in the modules and resources below present a variety of strategies to help you gain perspective, find balance, and manage your stress at university.

Looking for something short and sweet? Scroll down for some quick tips on stress management.

Want to jump right in? Here are some of our popular stress reduction resources (PDF):

Note: the above links are parts of a module and some internal links may not work. For .docx files, please email us.

MODULES AND RESOURCES: Managing Academic Stress


MODULE: Academic Stress in Undergrad

Strategies for managing stress at university: self-awareness, the Creator role, relaxing the body and mind, mindfulness, and additional resources.

MODULE: Academic Stress in Graduate School

Managing stress in grad school: self-awareness, the Creator role, relaxing the body and mind, mindfulness, and additional resources.

Tools: Reducing stress by relaxing the body

Self-care checklist, tension diary, breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and stretching.

Tools: Reducing stress with imagery and sleep

Visualization techniques, promoting good sleep hygiene.

Tools: Self-talk techniques for reducing stress

Identifying helpful self-talk, reframing negative thoughts, stress inoculation training (SIT).

Tools: Mindfulness

Using mindfulness techniques for focus and self-awareness.


1. Identify your sources of distress (e.g., behind in work, poor understanding of new material, unclear expectations on assignments, ESL demands, tight finances, loneliness, trying to do too many activities).

2. Determine what sources of stress may be under your own control, and what isn’t. Aim to “control the controllables.”

3. Anticipate stressful events and plan ahead:

  • Reduce or eliminate optional activities or responsibilities
  • Set priorities, deadlines and timelines to reach your targets
  • Build in extra time for unexpected events or to catch up.

4. Change your mind set or attitude:

  • Ask yourself “are things really that bad? What’s the worst that can happen?”
  • Keep things in perspective.
  • Stop catastrophic thinking.
  • Determine the most important thing to do right now.

5. Change your behaviour:

  • List your academic accomplishments each day and acknowledge them.
  • Promote your health: eat well, sleep enough in the night, exercise appropriately.
  • Break big tasks into small manageable steps.
  • Make room for some fun!

6. Change your situation:

  • reduce e-distractions
  • study somewhere else
  • sleep earlier at night
  • review your course or program with your prof or Career Services

7. Learn relaxation techniques or do yoga, T’ai Chi, go for a run, etc.

8. Do what you know works for youuse your healthy “stress buster” activities.

9. Get involved with one of the Queen’s Academic Resources.

10. Make an appointment with a counsellor in the Counselling Service or a Learning Strategies advisor.

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Photo courtesy of Bernard Goldbach under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivations 2.0 license.