Tired, Stressed & Lonely: The Totally Normal Life of a College Student


Whether you're juggling complex assignments, preparing for exams, or applying for jobs or graduate schools, university life is an intense up-and-down adventure. Many students, from freshman to PhD, agree that the excitement of meeting new people and starting new classes can eventually fade into homesickness and disappointment that things aren't going as planned. Fear of failure is rampant across university campuses though few of us will admit it, especially to each other.

Often, there's something more going on than just waking up on the wrong side of the bed. And it's during those tough times that many of us tend to forget the whole reason we came to university in the first place: to get a degree. Here are a few tips to get you through those worst of days and ever closer to the commencement stage.


  • Try new hobbies. Join a student interest group, no matter what time of year. 

  • Explore the neighborhood. Ask an upperclassman for advice on places to go and things to do.

  • Take initiative in socializing. Ask friends or people you’d like to get to know better for lunch, coffee, or a study session.

  • Use social networking/email to write a quick note to friends, family, or mentors you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Remind them that you appreciate them and are thinking of them.


  • Try relaxation exercises (breathing, meditation, yoga).

  • Listen to music and get moving.

  • Say no to extra commitments.

  • Talk to a counselor, friend, or trusted professor.

A student at the NYU Abu Dhabi library.

Can't sleep?

  • Meditate before bedtime.

  • Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime

  • Eat regularly and well.

  • Avoid studying in bed.

  • Restrict yourself to 20-30 minute power naps during the day.

Too busy?

Reconsider your priorities. What is number one? Sleep, meals, academics, work, personal time, friends and relationships? If you’re struggling with procrastination, reflect on the root causes of putting off work. Maybe you're afraid of failing or bored with the work you’re supposed to be doing. Once you know why you’re procrastinating, you can take steps to change your habits.

  • Divide large projects into sub-projects with tasks. Complete one task each day (even if small).

  • Schedule activities for the times of day at which you are at your peak efficiency

  • Start with the most difficult task

  • Schedule extra time for unanticipated events and delays

  • Schedule extra time for sleep, physical activity, or social relaxation when you anticipate feeling stressed about a big paper, an exam, a job interview, etc.

  • Avoid worrying about Task B while you’re trying to complete Task A. Schedule time to worry so you can devote yourself fully the task at hand

Ask for help!

  • Academic advisors

  • Professors

  • Upperclassmen or grad students

  • Campus counselors

  • Campus health specialists

  • Resident Advisors and other staff

  • Family and Friends