Stress Management for Online Students

college student outside stretching their arms and preparing to exercise
Category: Going Back to School

Posted on

Online learning offers some major advantages. Flexible schedules, no commute, and a wide variety of support services provide online students a unique and convenient college experience.

However, many students will share that adding college courses – online or otherwise – to your list of responsibilities can add stress to your life. When combined with family and work responsibilities, it can be difficult to continue being a high achiever. Part of getting the most out of your studies will mean learning how to manage that stress, a skill which will be valuable wherever your career and life take you.

In this article, we share some of our favorite stress management tips for college students, helping you stay productive on your path to reaching your academic goals.

Conventional Stress Management Strategies

  1. Live a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy balance in your life is difficult, and it can be easy to fall into a low-activity routine. However, making extra efforts to exercise and take significant breaks from sitting at a desk can help you feel better and make you a more attentive and successful student. Additionally, doing what you can to get a healthy amount of sleep and eat well will pay dividends in your academic life.
  2. Reduce distractions, even the small ones. Maintaining focus can be a major challenge as we are pulled in multiple directions by our devices and responsibilities. This can often contribute to feeling overwhelmed, either by a pileup of small tasks or an inability to focus on one task for any lengthy period. This can make you a less attentive and motivated student and person, making it critical that you find ways to cut down on distractions, even if it means turning off your phone.
  3. Take breaks. It’s also important to take breaks mentally and physically from your studies. The way you “unplug” is entirely up to you; people use many different methods, including socializing with friends or family, immersing themselves in a hobby, or even something as simple as television, movies, reading, or games. The key is to achieve a healthy balance so that the distraction provides a break without taking up all your study time.

Stress Management Strategies for Online Students

  1. Develop a routine or ritual to start and finish your academic time. Although commuting can add layers of stress and worry, not to mention take up a lot of time, it does provide a mental and physical break between locations. Traveling from place to place allows you to reset, which is something you can try to replicate when studying online. Whether it’s something simple like a walk to a nearby coffee shop or some light exercise, developing a signal for your body that you can use to transition into your routine can be helpful. This can be repeated at the end of your studies as well to give you a signal that it is time to move on to other things.
  2. Plan ahead to make the most use of your time. The added flexibility of online studies can be a tricky adjustment; you can initially struggle with the abundance of options. Time management will be important for you to be able to stay up-to-date on your academic responsibilities as well as everything else. Using a calendar or other planning tool to make sure you are giving yourself plenty of time for each task can empower you, helping you feel in control and not overwhelmed.
  3. Don’t be afraid to mess with your routine. Planning and routines are important, but don’t be afraid to change things up if you start to feel too much stress or anxiety. After all, what good is a plan if it’s making it harder for you to manage your mental well-being? If you usually go to a cafe or library to study, try spending some days working from home. If you tend to do your homework around a specific time, shift your schedule around and see if the change helps. Try incorporating a new hobby or giving yourself a totally new activity to try every week. Sometimes doing something different from the norm can, in and of itself, bring relief.


Even with the added flexibility of online studies, taking on a full course load or just a single class can be daunting. Learning to manage stress is critical for your success as a student.

Here at Columbia Southern University, we strive to keep our students' mental well-being in mind when designing courses and academic content. We want you to be successful, and we’re here to help.

This testimonial may not reflect the typical or ordinary experience of CSU students.

To learn more about our online degree programs here at Columbia Southern, visit our website.

Topics in This Article