Managing Stress and Anxiety

We are often under stress. So we asked a trained counsellor Sarah for her top tips on how to manage stress and anxiety.

Remember if you feel overwhelmed by stress you need to seek help from someone you trust and you can go to the MIND website for sources of support.

are you feeling

Here are some great ideas from Sarah our counsellor:

Create a Wellbeing Kit – unique to you!

This may also help if you are feeling sad about something. Here are some ideas you can include:

A mood basket

Find a basket or a box (ideally easy to transport). Fill it with calming, happy, inspirational things. Here are some ideas:

  • Happy memories – images such as postcards, favourite photographs, concert tickets, football tickets, favourite recipes, pictures of pets, favourite films
  • Favourite mantras or quotes written on a piece of paper
  • Cuddly things, pebbles, crystals, fidget toy, handheld puzzles and games
  • Chocolate, Tangfastic
  • Favourite perfume or aftershave, essential oils, fruit / herbal tea bags, spices, flowers

Favourite blanket, hoodie, socks

On your mobile: music compilations to relax/uplift/energise, sounds of nature (running water, rain, birds)

An anxiety anchor: To help manage anxious thoughts, pick a favourite scent and spray it onto a scarf or tissue. Try out different scented teabags, find your favourite ones – they are good to put in a pocket when you are out and about. Choose a favourite necklace that you can hold to ground yourself.

Learn something new

Grounding hobbies are great to manage anxiety and stress. They include painting, playing musical instruments, gardening, baking, outdoor activities like biking and gardening.

Write lists

…with goals, schedules, shopping lists

Create a daily prioritised or weekly list. If one task is really big, break it down into small realistic chunks/goals.

Visualise a relaxing place

Choose an activity or place that you find calming. Visualise yourself there using all your senses e.g., sitting in a meadow with the warm sun shining down on you, feeling the grass beneath your bare feet, listening to the birds and nearby stream, the scent of flowers and freshly cut grass.


This is a great way to feel calmer when you are feeling overwhelmed. Use your senses…

  • Name 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can smell
  • 2 things you can hear
  • 1 thing you can taste

60 second relaxation

  • Tense all muscles, screw up eyes and face as you slowly breathe in, increasing tension in your muscles and face.
  • Breathe out, let go, open eyes and relax all muscles
  • Repeat 2-3 times

Breathing to relax – square breathing

This is especially helpful for sleep

Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale of a count of 4 (adjust to whatever is comfortable). Blow bubbles! This is calming and often helps people think clearer. You can also imagine doing it.

Naming objects

If you feel overwhelmed, sit in a chair with feet fully on the ground or stand with spine fully extended. Slowly scan your environment naming as many objects you can see.

How to manage symptoms of anxiety:


Take slow, easy breaths. If you can sit on a chair or sofa and wrap a blanket around yourself.

Feeling numb

Gently squeeze forearms with opposite hands. Also, increase awareness by noticing your environment through all your senses. What do you hear, see, smell?

Here are some other ideas….

Lowering your body temp when feeling overwhelmed can be calming. The best ways are running hands under cold water, taking a cold shower, or using a cold flannel.
(If you have any medical conditions check with your GP first)

Strong emotions may create a lot of energy inside of you, this can be released with exercise, like aerobics, running, tennis etc.

Smiling releases tension and aids calmness, triggering the release of happiness hormones. Even fake smiles are effective in reducing stress! Get smiling!

Practicing self-compassion to manage stress

What would you say to a friend?

Think of someone you really admire, what would they say?

Positive self-talk

When faced with challenges, say something positive to yourself everyday
Remember things you have done well in – write these down and read them again.

Taking Control

Setting healthy personal boundaries

It’s important to remember your own needs and values, making it clear what is ok as well as what may not be ok within relationships with others. What’s right for someone else may not be right for you!

Good Social Support network

Try to spend time with people who make you feel good.

Let it go box or vault

If having racing thoughts- write down and put in a box or an imaginary vault

What’s worked before? Remember, you know yourself better than anyone!