Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

Reducing Stress

Ways to Cope With Stress

How can you cope with stress?

There are many ways of coping with stress.  Different people like to use different ways of managing stress.  Here are some general ways that you can manage stress, plus some specific suggestions.


If you aren’t healthy, you will have a hard time dealing with stress.  Stress can also make you unhealthy, so be careful and take care of yourself!

Eat healthy food regularly. 

  • Make sure to have at least three small meals a day. 
  • Eat fruits, vegetables, and baked/grilled meats. 
  • Try to avoid fatty/oily or processed foods, as they will make you feel slow and sluggish. 


  • When you move your body and exercise regularly, you keep yourself healthy and fit. 
  • Plus, exercise gives you endorphins and energy, so you feel great afterwards. 
  • For those especially busy students--who can't find time to walk, jog, play sports, dance, or even do housecleaning--here is a tip:
  • choose a parking space at a distance from your destination.  That extra bit of walking to class or the grocery store will really add up!


  • Each person is different, but most people need about 7-8 hours of sleep a night. 
  • Without a regular sleep schedule, you will feel sleepy and exhausted, and you won’t be able to think clearly or concentrate. 
  • Make sure to have a regular sleep schedule. That means going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. 
  • Your body has an internal clock which wants you to wake up at the same time every day. 
  • Even if you are getting enough sleep, an erratic sleep schedule will greatly reduce the benefits of a full night's sleep.


If you don’t feel good about yourself, you will be too depressed and unmotivated to get anything done, which will make all those things pile up and overwhelm you.

Take time for yourself.

  • Make sure that you schedule yourself time to do things that make you feel good. 
  • Practice the 50/10 study method.  For every 50 minutes of study, take a 10 minute break.
  • Or try the 90/30 study method.  After a sustained study session of more than an hour, reward yourself with a half hour break.  Try not to become too distracted in this time--for example, if you try to watch only a half hour of your favorite movie, your break will probably turn into an hour or more--but do get your mind off of studies for a while. Take care of some emails, walk your dog, or simply sit down with a cup of tea.

Keep your friends close.

  • As humans, we need interaction with others.  It helps relieve stress to interact with those you care about.
  • Call your friend and talk about what you’ve been up to; tell your significant other about your day, or spend time playing with your child.
  • If you don’t have anyone close to you that you can talk to, try talking to a counselor at school or even a professor.  Even though you may feel shy, visiting your professors' office hours is a great way to build a strong working relationship, discuss your concerns as a student with someone in a position to help, and enhance the learning taking place in the classroom.
  • Even something as simple as striking up a conversation with a stranger at the grocery store or dry cleaners can lift your spirits and reduce your stress level.

Respect yourself.

  • Low self-esteem adds to your stress and keeps you from getting things done.
  • Instead of telling yourself how bad you are, acknowledge how good you are.
  • Make a list of all your good qualities, of all the good things you have gotten done.
  • Give yourself rewards when you accomplish things.
  • Treat yourself to a movie after finishing a big paper, or a nap after a few hours of studying.
  • Avoid even the word stress.  Experts suggest using the words "challenging" or "difficult" to describe our stressful days. That way, our brains will more easily look for solutions to a problem, rather than just submitting to the stress.


If you find yourself having a big stress attack, here are some suggestions for quick fixes that will help you get through them.  Basically, calm yourself down and distance yourself from the situation; then, once you feel better, you can get back to your work.

  • Take a deep breath
  • Close your eyes and think of something peaceful for a few minutes
  • Make a quick to-do list of what you need to do in the next hour
  • Call a friend
  • Take a 20-minute power nap
  • Read a chapter in a book or watch a brief television show
  • Take a walk or run a little
  • Have a healthy snack (yogurt, carrots, apple, etc.)

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