The world can be a stressful place.
We’re all trying to have it all and do it all — usually at the same time. And this endless pursuit of work-life-family-health-finance-love-spiritual enlightenment-Netflix balance can feel extremely hard to manage.
Clearly, there’s a lot on our collective minds, and it’s stressing us out.
Stress is insidious; it makes our body fight against itself. Stress releases hormones in our body that make us tense and edgy. We’re restless and irritable, we can’t sleep, we eat too much — or not at all. It’s no secret that people who are better at managing stress lead happier lives. While not all of us can live our best lives 100% of the time, there are tools we can use to help ourselves get to healthier and calmer emotional places when life gets hard.
Here are a few tools and products to help you stay calm when things feel bananas:
1. Take a five-minute break with a meditation app.
Pause is a mobile app designed to make you, well, pause. Put your finger on the glowing orb of your mobile screen, focus on your breathing for up to 5 minutes and feel your stresses slip away. There are several apps like it out there; try any of them.
2. Collect data on your stress with wearable tech.
The newest wearable tech is so much more than a pedometer. The latest ones from Fitbit, Jawbone, and Apple (among others) also track your heart rate and sleep cycles so you can get intel on what kinds of situations stress you out. Then you can make a plan for how you’ll handle them when they happen again.
3. Wake up gently to soft daylight, a cup of fresh-brewed coffee, or the scent of delicious crispy bacon.
Your morning alarm doesn’t have to sound like a high school buzzer. Companies and designers are making alarms that rouse you gently from your sleep with calming light or comforting smells like coffee and bacon. Wouldn’t you rather start your day with joy instead of mad panic?
4. Little things driving you crazy? Take out your frustrations on a stress ball.
5. Be the most zen version of yourself with a mindfulness app.
Headspace is one app for your smartphone that helps you learn the basics of meditation and mindfulness — no fancy guru necessary, and it’s free. App stores have plenty of other offerings like this one for guiding you into the next realm of consciousness.
6. If you have fidgety fingers, kinetic sand may be the perfect desk toy for you.
I like to fiddle with things when I’m thinking — it keeps my hands busy so my mind can work. For that, kinetic sand is a lifesaver. This “magic sand” is fun to play with and build into shapes, then to squish and start all over again. You’re the supreme overlord in a circle of your own creation!
7. If you’ve got a cat, Feliway can calm your savage, couch-scratching beast and give you peace of mind.
To anyone who’s ever looked down at the shredded remains of something they owned and then over to the unrepentant face of a cat they are reconsidering whether they love, these words will ring true: pet anxiety = human anxiety. And in 18 years of cat ownership, Feliway is the only product I’ve ever found that helped limit it. Feliway is a sprayable calming synthetic cat pheromone that mimics the natural one happy cats use to mark their territory as safe and familiar. It’s available in a spray and a diffuser.
8. Tune out the crowd with noise-cancelling headphones and relaxing playlists.
If you work in a shared office space, you know how loud things can get — especially when all you need is quiet. A good set of noise-cancelling headphones and a playlist designed to help you concentrate will help you find your focus and get things done. Spotify has a great selection of instrumental playlists, or you can check out Focus @ Will, which promises “music scientifically optimized to boost concentration and focus.”
9. Make your head tingle in a good way — hopefully — with a scalp massager.
Some people swear by these for stimulating tiny muscles on the scalp and around the face. Others say it feels like crawling spider feet on their head. Your personal mileage may vary.
10. Walk on sunshine in a pair of acupressure slippers.
Walking in these slippers stimulates pressure points on your feet, giving some of the relaxing benefits of a full-body massage.
11. Make anywhere smell like heaven with an aromatherapy diffuser.
Aromatherapy diffusers use concentrated essential oils to gently fill your home or workspace with smells that soothe you, like lavender or vanilla. Breathe deeply.
12. Give your stiff shoulders a break with the Real-EaSE Neck Support.
If your posture is less than perfect and you sit at a desk for long periods of time, you might be ending the day with a pretty stiff neck. Lying on the floor for 20 minutes with your head in the cradle of the Real-EaSE will help your muscles relax and your spine realign.
13. Get a quick fix from stressful surprises with Rescue Remedy.
Rescue Remedy is a little bottle packed full of flower botanicals known for their soothing qualities, like rock rose, cherry plum, and clematis. Keep it in your pocket or your purse for relief on the go.
14. Sing along as you soak with a waterproof bluetooth speaker.
Anyone can feel like royalty in the right bath. Make yours extra-luxe with a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, battery-operated candles, extra-large extra fluffy towels, and a memory foam bathmat.
15. Channel your inner kid with a grown-up coloring book.
It’s wonderful to see coloring for grown-ups becoming a big thing. Take a few minutes with paints, markers, or pencil crayons to color inside — or outside — the lines, and rediscover how good it felt to as a kid to make art.
16. Train your brain with a brainwave sensing headband.
The Muse headband detects changes in your brainwaves to determine when you’re experiencing stress. Together with a mobile app, it will help you train your brain to manage anxiety and find your calm.
17. Rest up in a $25,000 napping pod.
Enjoy a relaxing nap in this ergonomic napping pod, complete with memory foam mattress. Just don’t think about the fact that it costs $25,000 yet, inexplicably, doesn’t include a blanket or a pillow. Or how long the purchase of it will be accruing interest on your credit card as you slowly pay it off. Shhhh. Sleep. Sleeeeep.
If you’d rather de-stress in a way that doesn’t involve buying things, there are many no-cost options, too:
18. Cut your browser clutter and open-tab stress with OneTab.
Take a quick look: How many tabs do you have open in your browser right now? How many of them actually need to be open? The OneTab browser extension for Chrome and Firefox helps you clear browser clutter (and free up extra memory) by collecting all your open tabs into a list that you can go back to later.
19. Do absolutely nothing for two minutes.
One of the key elements of meditation is stillness and a clear, empty mind. The best way to get there? Click over to this website by Calm and do nothing, absolutely nothing for two whole minutes. Can you do it? Give it a try. We’ll wait here.
20. Snack on stress-busting foods like blueberries, almonds, and dark chocolate.
Adding foods with calming effects like turkey breast, oatmeal, and avocado to your meals and snacks can help you feel better as you eat well.
21. Make your bed great again with new (or just freshly-cleaned) sheets.
We spend a full one-third of our lives in bed, so it’s important our sheets and coverlets are up to the task. Find a style of sheet you like — maybe that’s unbleached organic or ultra-smooth 800-thread-count Egyptian cotton or fuzzy soft flannel or cooling silk. There’s a perfect sheet for every sleep style — find yours and enjoy better ZZZZs, guaranteed.
22. Browse through comedy videos and find your next laugh.
There’s a reason people say “laughter is the best medicine” — it’s really true. If you’re tensed up at your desk or on the go and need a chuckle, there are streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and others, or you can find plenty of laugh-out-loud videos on YouTube. And if all else fails, there are always aww-worthy GIFs online to brighten up a dark day.
23. Snuggle up in the fuzziest fuzzy blanket in the history of fuzziness.
Only you can decide which fuzzy blanket has the right level of fuzziness for your taste. Once you find it, you’ll never want to crawl out from under it. It’s a great investment and the perfect way to de-stress after a long day.
24. Adopt a rescue pet and soothe your soul.
A number of studies suggest that getting a rescue pet can reduce your stress and help you live longer. Plus, you’re giving another little being a second chance on life! Be sure to get in lots of daily cuddle sessions; just a few minutes of time spent snuggling a pet can cause your body to release the feel-good hormone oxytocin and lower your blood pressure.
25. Lounge in a hammock rocking gently on a white sand beach.
OK, so chances are you don’t have this in or near your home right now — and if you do, I’d really love to find out why you’re reading an article about stress instead of one about “having an awesome life.” But hammocks are excellent places for naps, reading, or just relaxing in bliss, especially on a warm, sunny, beachy day.
A quick disclaimer: I’m not suggesting any of these products are the key to unlocking a stress-free you, and none of the products in this list have paid for their inclusion or received any special consideration to end up here. Anyone who promises miracle cures that work without effort would be misleading people. These products may help, but it’s the enthusiasm and commitment you put into them that will make all the difference. Good luck! Serenity now!