If your shoulders are tense, you're constantly on a deadline, or you suffer from anxiety, you're not alone. There's a lot to worry about these days: Politics. Relationships. The pressure to succeed in our jobs. Did you remember to turn off the coffee pot this morning? How long is an acceptable amount of time to wait to text back your love interest? Ten minutes? Ten hours? Ten days? Speaking of counting the days, when was your last period — are you late? You get the point.
Life can turn you into a nail-biting ball of tension and nerves.
Luckily, there are tons of remedies out there, from therapy to weighted blankets to peppermint tea. For the record, there's a difference between feeling anxious and being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which is one of the most common mental health problems in America and deserves proper and professional care.
However, if you're just looking for something to help you chill out, we've taken it upon ourselves to test over 20 of the trendiest anti-anxiety and stress-reducing products out there. There were definitely some duds — puppy slippers, unique pillows, and cheesy journals didn't make the cut — but we basked in the eight tranquilizing apps and knickknacks below until our heart rates were low, and our spirits were high.
Muse 2: The Next Generation Meditation Headband
Once you figure out how to tie back your hair so none of your locks are blocking the headband’s sensors, this lightweight and nifty tool is helpful for relaxation and focus.
The headband connects to an app, which guides you through various meditations. Meanwhile, the sensors on the device are picking up on your brain activity, heart rate, breathing, and body movements, as you go through various techniques.
Thanks to all these trackers, you'll get in-the moment feedback about whether you're concentrating. If you're focused on your breathe, you'll hear birds chirping. If not, you'll hear the sound of thunder and stormy weather.
During a mediocre meditation session, the app's speaker compared my wandering thoughts to a puppy learning how to sit and stay. It takes some time to train the dog, but getting angry won't help him learn to sit. The same goes for your easily distracted brain.
In general, this kind of mindfulness meditation is good for curbing anxiety. Doing about 30 minutes of meditation daily has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, a Johns Hopkins analysis found.
Vitruvi Stone Diffuser
There are so many diffusers out there, but this one has safety features, and is produced cruelty free. As a bonus, it’s super cute from an interior design standpoint. Although there isn't enough conclusive research, Mayo Clinic notes that aromatherapy may have positive benefits such as relief from anxiety and improved sleep.
I use mine with a Vitruvi essential oil blend called Dusk, which is frankincense, eucalyptus, ho wood, and lavender. I keep it in my room, and I turn it on and close my door after particularly long days at work. It makes me feel as reborn as a caterpillar in a tiny, heavenly smelling cocoon of peace.
This Works Pillow Spray:
If you’re feeling amped up before bed, we’ve got the pillow spray for you. Before you fall asleep, spritz this onto your pillow, and breathe in deeply. The blend of sleep-friendly essential oils — including lavender, vetiver, and chamomile — is soothing to drift off to.
It’s not a cure-all for sleep anxiety, but it’s certainly a pleasant way to fall asleep. I use it anytime I find myself tossing, turning, or clock-counting. Plus, aromatherapy using essential oils such as lavender and roman chamomile can help improve sleep quality and anxiety levels, according to a small study published Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Herbivore Calm Dead Sea Bath Salts
If you're looking for something to make your baths even more relaxing than usual, we've found it. These bath salts look chic, feel chic, and even smell chic (thanks vanilla oil!). When you add 1/4 of the bottle to each bath, you'll emerge calmed, refreshed, smelling slightly like said vanilla, and ready to embark on one of the best night's sleep you'll ever have.
The Himalayan pink salts contain magnesium, zinc, and iron, which the brand calls "detoxifying," and Ylang Ylang essential oil only furthers the vanilla oils' aromatic mission.
Plant from The Sill
Thanks to microbes in soil some are calling "outdoorphins," interacting with indoor plants can help reduce psychological and physiological stress, according to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology.
With that said, keeping a plant alive is a big responsibility, and the idea of killing a living creature can be anxiety-provoking. However, The Sill makes it easy for you. They’ll help you pick out your plant based on your needs, and give you a care card with explicit instructions. Plus, there’s an email you can reach out to if your green friends starts to wither and you don’t know why. With the help of their resources, even the most nervous and semi-neglectful plant owners can keep their potted herbage flourishing
I was very skeptical when I first received this blanket, mostly because it was heavy AF. My 20 pound napper came in a large cloth bag — the kind you’d usually use to tote laundry — and when I first picked it up, I thought it was surely full of tiny dumbbells. It stressed me out just thinking about carrying it all the way to my bed.
However, once I unfolded it, and thrust it up over my legs and torso, it felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders and transformed into a magical cloak of relief. It was a weird sensation, but I felt like my Cortisol (the primary stress hormone) levels were plummeting, and I was ready to relax.
Some research has shown that sleeping under evenly dispersed weight can help deepen sleep cycles and lower anxiety and stress levels. Blankets like these mimic the sensation of being swaddled or hugged, and use Deep Touch Pressure which is said to stimulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps us feel calm. If none of that works for you, know that Bearaby is a super environmentally friendly company, so buying these woven blankets is good for the planet.
For the record, when I first got my blanket, it smelled a little like a warehouse. However, that’s nothing that a few squirts of This Works Pillow Spray didn't fix.
Aveda Comforting Tea
Of all the products on this list, I’ve been hooked on this one the longest. It’s my tried and true go-to for a relaxing night in. Sipping on the herbal blend will help soothe you with its warmth and heavenly smell. It’s caffeine and sugar free, and there are no added flavorings. That may sound boring and flavorless to you, but I assure you it's delightful despite these marks. Licorice root and peppermint make it naturally sweet. If I could , I'd abandon my life as a writer, and go live out the rest of my days as a small Thumbelina-like being in one of these teabags. It’s that relaxing.
Himalayan salt lamp
This product is revamping the phrase “I love lamp.” No longer is it just an Anchorman quote slowly fading from pop culture’s memory — it's now a burgeoning wellness trend.
The first thing you should know is that the lamp is very pretty. Secondly, it’s reported to have a laundry list of health benefits, because of the negative ions it’s said to emit. It’s supposed to improve air quality, help the body sleep, and boost our moods. It's said to be a champion of those with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. There still isn’t enough research to back up all these claims, but after testing one, I did feel that my mood was in a better place. It could have been placebo , but this beauty earned itself a permanent spot on my night stand.