Science Says: Stress Relief | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Science Says: Stress Relief

Life&Style writer Alice Macfarlane gives some scientifically proven tips on how to relieve stress

Mankind have suffered from stress since the dawn of time, and although we no longer need to worry about the prospect of being eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger, stress is still a huge part of our lives. Whether it’s in your personal, university, or family environment, we all experience it differently, and with statistics showing that 82% of UK students suffer from stress and anxiety, young adults are among some of the worst affected. We are often given heaps of advice about how to tackle the stress of daily life, but in amongst the multitude of suggestions, how do we know which ones are truly effective? This article provides some simple methods for de-stressing that can be done both easily and regularly. What’s more, the following suggestions are proven to be genuinely effective, even science says so.

Write it down

The phrase goes that the pen is mightier than the sword, and when it comes to stress, this couldn’t be more relevant. When experiencing anxiety, it is often difficult to gather our thoughts and pinpoint the underlying source of worry. There are many ways in which writing can help to clarify what is causing our stress, and to alleviate this anxious confusion. With work or university related stress, it often helps to write lists regularly. By clearly laying out what you need to do all in one place, it allows you to work through each task methodically, hopefully achieving your set goals. If lists aren’t helpful for you, simply sitting down and writing about what is causing you stress can be extremely beneficial. Although this may feel strange at first, experts claim that writing down things that make you worried can reduce stress and allow you to perform better in tasks: so grab your pen and get writing.


It goes without saying that exercise is a huge stress-reliever. Even the smallest amount of physical activity can reduce stress hormones such as adrenaline and stimulate the production of endorphins that act as natural mood elevators. There are many ways you can get involved in exercise with or without a gym membership, perhaps try one of the many classes open to the public at the new university sports centre. Otherwise, if you’re short on time then try taking a brisk ten-minute walk (easily achieved if you’re running late for a lecture). Scientists suggest that this can once again increase endorphins whilst allowing for fuller breathing, all in just ten minutes. So even if you have a busy life, there’s no reason not to try this technique.

‘A problem shared is a problem halved’

In the spirit of clichés, we are often advised against bottling up our feelings. Sharing what is causing you stress with those close to you can be extremely therapeutic, often making you feel relieved. Even just spending some quality time with your close friends can have great benefits, with studies suggesting that it reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Friends and family will almost always offer support and possible solutions when it comes to stressful experiences, so it’s important to know that you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Technology detox

This isn’t to say you need to completely shut off all technology. However, it is recommended that you spend a few hours throughout the day away from your phone. As young adults this proves extremely difficult, with social media being an incredibly prominent and addictive aspect of our lives. But with phone usage being linked to high blood pressure and increased anxiety, perhaps it’s worth considering spending some time apart from your beloved companion. Instead dedicate this time to other activities such as talking with friends, reading a book or watching a film. In particular, try putting down your phone roughly an hour before you plan on going to bed, this will help you relax and fall asleep more easily, which brings me on to the final piece of advice…

Get your beauty sleep

This one can be very tricky as a university student, between nights out, essays, assignments, and societies, it’s hard to know where a good night’s sleep fits in with your schedule. Many students tend to opt for the ‘napping will solve all my problems’ mentality and although this is not completely true, the benefits of a good sleep can scarcely be denied. Reducing stress hormones, lowering blood pressure and just generally elevating your mood, sleeping well is one of the best ways of reducing daily stress. Dedicate some time to catching up on those precious hours of sleep and it won’t be long before you feel the benefits.

So, there you have five ways to combat everyday stress that actually work. Whether your schedule is driving you crazy, or you just simply need some time to wind down, studies prove how these methods can help to relax your body and mind, and you can’t argue with science.


7th March 2018 at 9:00 am

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Nick Youngson