Coping Strategies for a High School or College Student

Isabelle Smith


September 1, 2023

Living as a current junior in college, I have dealt with my fair share of stress, anxiety, sadness, and more. The dramatic ups and downs of life occur every day, and sometimes it gets to be too much. So, what do we do when that happens? These coping mechanisms have helped me since entering new uncharted territory in college, and I’m very excited to share them with you.

1. Stop, and breathe.

I used to think that breathing techniques wouldn’t be beneficial for me. However, once I read an article about breath control, I was amazed by the physical/mental effects it had on me. Box (or square) breathing is where you breath in for four seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds, breath out for 4 seconds, and again hold the breath for 4 seconds (hence the “square”). According to MedicalNewsToday, this breathing technique “clears the mind, relaxes the body, and improves focus”. When you are feeling stressed, stop for a minute, and breathe.

2. Talk to family and friends

In high school, I used to conceal everything about my life. I wouldn’t open up to my parents or my friends, and instead would deal with all my problems alone. It was extremely difficult. Since coming to college, I have built an incredible relationship with my mother, which I never had growing up. She gives me the best advice, at all hours of the day, which I’ve found myself leaning on often. Same goes with my friends. Being able to hear a different perspective on something difficult I’m experiencing helps give me more insight on the situation, and how to best navigate it.

3. It’s okay to cry

I think it’s very important to normalize crying, and the release it gives us when processing emotions. Humans are meant to feel. As much as we are meant to feel happy at times, we are also meant to feel sad. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not a weakness- human emotion makes us, in my opinion, fearless.

4. Working out

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to a busy gym. Normally, I walk a few miles around a local park near campus. I bring headphones, and just spend quality time with myself and the outdoors for a bit. This is very helpful for me when I feel overwhelmed. I feel trapped and lonely just sitting in my bedroom often, so getting to surround myself with trees and people is the perfect remedy.

5. Journaling

Writing down your thoughts and emotions are a very healthy way to process them. Putting words on paper helps me feel organized and it’s another really good way to put things into perspective. Also, keeping a collection of journal entries allows you to go back and keep tabs on your good days and bad days. It feels good to go back to a harder time in my life and know that I was able to get through it.

Coping mechanisms work in different ways for everyone, and these are just a few of the ones that have really impacted my life for the better. School just started again, which always creates a whole new array of stress and anxiety for me, on top of all the other non-school stressors I’m currently living with. It doesn’t take much to feel like the world is imploding. Just remember to always take a step back and do whatever coping mechanisms work best for you.

A meaningful quote for me is“ A year from now, everything you’re stressing about won’t mean a thing.”



Isabelle Smith

At Promly, Isabella is on our public health, social media and podcast team & she is our Mental Health Leader!