10 Ways to Cheer Up a College Student When They Are Sad or Stressed

If your college student is upset, stressed, or lonely, as a parent, you want to do everything you can to make their pain go away and for them to feel happy again. It can be hard to find the right words to say or to know how to make them feel better.

All college students hit rough patches and here is how parents can help. (Twenty20 @life.thru.lens)

How to cheer up your college student

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1. Send them a care package.

This will be a bright spot in their time of stress. Some of the things you can include in the care package are

  • and a handwritten note of encouragement.

They will be so excited when they get this care package in the mail! 

2. Answer when they call or text

Being sad while away at college is one of the most stressful things, especially because they may feel all alone in whatever issue they are facing and don’t want to bother other students with their problems. If your child calls or texts you, do whatever you can to answer and reply to their messages quickly. 

3. Ask if they want your help 

Offer to give advice, but do not give any advice if they say “no” and instead simply be there to listen. If they do want your advice, remember to give it without judgment. A lot of college students do not make the best decisions because as young adults they are still learning, so even if they have made poor choices, remember not to show anger or disappointment. This will make them feel worse. Instead, try to empathize with what they are feeling. 

4. Encourage them to do something to get their mind off of things

Give them some healthy ideas on ways to distract themselves from what they are going through. Some ideas are hiking, going to the gym, painting, doing an activity with friends, getting a manicure or massage, or going for a bike ride. Any healthy coping mechanism will get their mind off of things and help them to feel better. 

5. Offer to come and visit if you are able to

This is another great option if you can. Visiting them at college will distract them from their stress. Even if you just go for one night or a day trip, this can be a fun way to get their mind off things. When I was struggling my freshman year, my mom came out to visit me for a quick weekend trip and it was nice to be off-campus for a few days and not worry about school. We went hiking, went out to eat, got our nails done, and it was a relaxing break from all of the stress I was dealing with. 

6. Order food or treats for them

Sometimes cooking or leaving the house can be exhausting when going through something. Your student will be so happy if you offer to order their favorite meal for them! There are tons of online food delivery apps including Doordash, Postmates, Grubhub (with students discounts) among others. For treats, try gooey, delicious cookies, or donuts, Wicked Good Cupcakes, or this classic banana pudding which is awesome. 

7. Suggest they write their thoughts down

This may seem like a silly suggestion but writing down whatever issue they are facing will help them process their emotions and make more rational decisions. They can even make a list of pros and cons if they are trying to figure out what to do next. 

8. Send them a text of encouragement

Sending them a text message with kind words is a reminder of how much you love them. Tell them how proud you are of them and mention some of their past accomplishments, and things you love about them. Getting a message like this will make them feel so special.

9. Plan something fun for the future

This is a great way to get your student excited about the future and thinking of better times. This can be a vacation, concert tickets, or something else they can look forward to! Or, this could even be as simple as planning a fun day together in the nearest big city when your student arrives back home from college. 

10. Have groceries delivered to them

This can be a huge help and a real time-saver for them. Ask what foods they want or have them send you a list and then order the groceries through Instacart. They will be so thankful to have fresh groceries. 

Almost all college students go through a rough patch at some point. As a parent, you can help support them through this. It will mean so much to them and they will be so grateful one day.

More Great Reading:

How Parents Can Help College Students Manage Stress

Ten Things Teens Really Wish Their Parents Knew About Them

About Madeleine Korn

Madeleine Korn is a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After graduating, she worked in marketing for a cybersecurity company for a year and a half. For the past year, she has been traveling the world while volunteering in hostels. Some of the countries she has visited include Portugal, Croatia, Greece, Albania, Cyprus, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and more. You can follow along with her travels on TikTok and Instagram. She loves writing and creating videos and really enjoys working for Grown and Flown!

Read more posts by Madeleine

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