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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?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • pauliejay
    7 months ago

    I certainly don’t cook! Food is a necessary evil. Unfortunately, every social situation centers around food and it only makes me stressed.
    I do deep breathing and try to just let things go but the funny thing is, I have never felt as stressed as when I developed I B S.
    I think getting up and moving probably helps me the most however when you get an attack, that’s the last thing you want to do.

  • dzw28055
    7 months ago

    That’s a great idea. I will try it next time! Thanks

  • ldonne
    7 months ago

    Hi @jo-coates,
    banana bread is also my to go to recipe that I enjoy baking often. I probably make a loaf every two weeks.
    Lately I’ve been listening to audiobooks. It keeps me focused on something else. I definetely think it’s important to do things that keep the stress away and makes for a better day.

  • Chris Hall moderator
    7 months ago

    Hey, @ldonne – Would you be up to sharing your recipe with the community?! If so, you can submit your recipe here: Hope you have a great weekend! – Chris, Team

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