A woman is enjoying the activity of baking, clearly relaxed and happy as she takes a freshly baked cake out of the oven.

5 Things to Try When You Feel Stressed

Over the years I’ve developed a toolbox of techniques to help manage stress, which I know is a huge trigger for my IBS. I like to have a variety of options that will help me relax and feel calm in whatever situation I’m in. Here's my list of five things I do when I feel stressed. Spoiler, it includes giving my house rabbit a tickle behind her fluffy cheeks!

1. Focus on box breathing

When I feel stressed and anxious I can immediately feel the pressure building in my chest, my heart rate quickens and I get clammy. Box breathing puts all of your focus on one thing, your breath. You breath in through your nose for a count of four. Hold for four. Breathe out through your nose for four. Hold for four. And repeat. Putting so much emphasis on one small but important thing puts me back in control.

2. Get outside in nature

Take yourself out of a stressful situation and get outside. Whether it’s a quick walk around the block or a slower meander round a park, being outside with fresh air filling your lungs will help ease the tension. For me, I’ll always head towards water as I know that helps make me feel calm.

3. Take a bath

Shutting myself away for an hour - who am I kidding, 90 minutes - and easing my tension-filled body under the hot water does wonders for my mind. The bath is where I escape to when things get too much, or I need time to myself to revitalise. I’ve just taken my baths up a notch by treating myself to some aromatherapy oils that you rub into your torso before getting in. Not only does it make your skin feel all silky and luxurious but the smell as you hit the water is so intense it transports you somewhere far calmer than your mind.

4. Find a pet to fuss over

This may be niche but the moment I feel anxious, or my thoughts start running away with themselves, I head for my house rabbit. She’s a Dwarf Lop named Lilly who lives in my living room and she brings me comfort in the form of her fluffy kisses and high demand of attention. The repetitive motion of stroking her or giving her a tickle behind her cheeks is not only relaxing but the best distraction. Now I’m not saying you should go and get a house bunny – because if you do be prepared for them to eat EVERYTHING – but if you do have a pet or know someone who does, get over there.

5. Get your bake on

Give me three overripe bananas and I’ll happily whip them into a cake. Following a recipe, taking some basic ingredients and watching them turn into a sweet-smelling bake brings me so much joy. I don’t do it often but when I do it reminds how much it helps switch my mind off for 40 minutes.

What do you do when you feel stressed?

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