Stress-management Tips for Students Studying Abroad

Moving to a new country or city to study can be an exciting adventure

... but often it can get stressful as well. There are lots of new things to take in: a new city, new people, new academic conventions, a new home... We all need to de-stress sometimes. Here are some tips about how you can practice self-care to enhance your emotional well-being.

Picture of students sitting in front of a wall, some talking.
Participating in group work goes a long way to help you feel settled.
  • Relax and give yourself space

    Carve out some time in the week (say two evenings a week, or multiple shorter time periods) when you do „nothing”. When you can chill, and just do whatever you feel like.

  • Do things you enjoy

    Don’t forget to do things you enjoy! You need them now more than ever, to help you relax and unwind. Studies show that doing things we enjoy can protect our mental health (3). Do you like to listen to loud music or read science fiction books? Do you like going to the gym or bouldering? It’s time to start doing them again.

  • Talk to friends and family

    Social support has been shown to be effective at decreasing stress (4). Even if it is through Skype, don’t forget to keep in touch with the people who truly care about you. And don’t just share the good with them; share the bad too.

  • Make new friends

    Chances are, you are all in the same boat; speak to other students, whether international or local. Share some of your recent good experiences or frustrations; you will be surprised to note how easy it is to relate to each other. Don’t be afraid to tell others if you are struggling or if you are going through a hard time. They might be going through something very similar, and it may give you a chance to bond over.

  • Take up mindfulness

    Mindfulness has been proven to be effective as a stress-reduction tool (5). There are many good resources online (go to my 'Client Resources' page for some inspriation) so it is easier to pick up this good habit as ever! Try it for yourself, and see if you find it helpful. If you need help and guidance learning mindfulness, I am happy to teach you as a counsellor as well; contact me for further information.

  • Talk to a counsellor or psychotherapist

    Going to a counsellor is a great option if you would like to hear a neutral perspective; if you feel you need to talk things over with somebody who will truly listen, and won’t judge. The effectiveness of psychotherapy has been proven for decades now (6).

    You can use the university’s counselling service or you can seek out a counsellor working in private practice, but make sure that whoever you are seeing has a qualification in counselling and they are a member of a professional body. The two widely recognised professional psychotherapy associations are called: BACP and NZCP. Every counsellor/therapist should be registered with at least one of these two associations.

  • Exercise regularly

    Studies show that regular exercise is good for mental health (1), as it produces ’feel good’ hormones (2). Exercise can therefore help you stay emotionally and physically healthy.


  1. Exercise Interventions for Mental Health: A Quantitative and Qualitative Review
  2. An effective exercise-based intervention for improving mental health and quality of life measures: a randomized controlled trial
  3. Lifestyle and mental health
  4. Perceived stress, internal resources, and social support as determinants of mental health among young adults
  5. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Health Care Professionals: Results From a Randomized Trial.
  6. Psychotherapy is effective and here’s why