Managing Stress and Anxiety: Practical Techniques

At some point in their lives, everyone will experience stress and anxiety. This can be due to work, studies, relationships or even the demands of daily life. So, what can be done when stress and anxiety start to take over?

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are natural responses generated by the nervous system. An increase in heart rate and heightened nervous energy are both telltale signs that the body is mobilising to deal with an external stimulus.

However, sometimes the sensations induced by stress and anxiety can become all-consuming and will begin to encroach on health and well-being. Furthermore, the body may respond to past stresses despite no immediate danger in the present. Below are five practical techniques that aid in the management of stress and anxiety.

Identifying Sources of Stress and Anxiety

Is there anything in particular that is known to be causing stress and anxiety? It might be a specific event, deadline or a variety of more minor stressors.

One great way to identify and document stressors is through journaling. A journal can act as a physical manifestation of the stresses and anxieties that reside in the body. The act of writing these feelings down can act to discharge some of the inhibited emotions that cause dysregulation in the nervous system. Furthermore, it can be equally helpful for people to find that there is no obvious cause of stress or anxiety. If this is the case, it might be a sign to seek professional help 1.

Developing Healthy Boundaries

If key sources of stressors can be identified, this is a great chance to start taking action. For example, someone struggling with a stressful work life can think about what boundaries might improve this situation. It could be through taking time for themselves and ensuring they only work within working hours. It might also be through communicating their stress and anxiety with a colleague or someone who can support them.

Looking After the Body

Stress and anxiety start within the body. These feelings can therefore be tackled with approaches that focus on the health of the body. Ways to ensure health and well-being include:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising regularly
  • Having a nutritious diet

These approaches to healthy living may seem simple; however, at times of stress and anxiety, it is common for people to stop looking after themselves.

Furthermore, many coping strategies that people use to relieve themselves of stress and anxiety can facilitate further mental health struggles in the long run. Substances such as alcohol, caffeine or self-enforced isolation can all be temporary distractions. However, although these mechanisms achieve instant gratification, they tend to heighten levels of stress and anxiety 2.

Breathing Techniques

In times of stress, it is common for people to struggle with breathing. For example, it is common for people to hold their breath subconsciously or to breathe in quick, shallow breaths. Improper breathing patterns can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue and more 3. However, with the correct breathing techniques, reducing the impact of stress and anxiety is possible.

Countless breathing exercises can help manage stress and anxiety. One of the most common breathing techniques for stress and anxiety relief is the 4-7-8, which calms the nervous system.

  • Begin by breathing in for four counts; remember to think about the breath as it comes in. You can even close your eyes if this helps.
  • Hold your breath for seven counts.
  • Exhale for eight counts, remaining mindful of your breath.
  • Continue to repeat the counts of 4-7-8 until you start to feel calmer.

The process of inhaling, pausing and exhaling allows for the correct flow of oxygen and will tranquillise feelings of stress and anxiety 4.

Compassionate Self-Talk

Although there are a huge number of physiological techniques to overcome stress and anxiety, it is also important to think about how internal monologues influence wellbeing. When people speak to themselves negatively or overly critically, it can exacerbate the effects of stress and anxiety.

As a result, it is essential to look at reframing stressful situations and to work towards more compassionate forms of self-talk.

Instead of saying:

“I am stressed about my relationship. It must mean I’m a terrible partner.”

It is far more helpful to say:

“I am stressed about my relationship. This shows that I am someone who cares about my significant other”.

While the former is an example of catastrophising and overly critical self-talk, the latter is an example of gentle compassion. When people speak to themselves with thought and understanding, they can far more easily alleviate stress and anxiety 5.


Stress and anxiety don’t have to be a constant struggle. Instead, there are practical approaches that allow people to improve their health and well-being and live beyond the emotional and physical impacts of these sensations:

  • Identifying and documenting stressors
  • Developing healthy boundaries
  • Looking after the body
  • Breathing techniques
  • Compassionate Self-talk

All of these practical approaches to relieving stress and anxiety intersect with one another. Looking after the body can involve implementing regular breathing exercises. Equally, compassionate self-talk can allow people to develop healthy boundaries. These techniques are crucial approaches that can drastically improve well-being and general health.


1. Frye, D. (2021). Retrieved from,body%2C%20brain%2C%20and%20emotions.
2. Frye, D. (2021). Retrieved from,body%2C%20brain%2C%20and%20emotions.
3. Ankrom, S. (2023). Retrieved from
4. Gotter, A. (2018). Retrieved from
5. Wells, L. (2023). Retrieved from