How have you been feeling lately? Maybe a little stressed, to say the least? Silly questions, I know. According to the American Psychological Association, this dragging pandemic has “altered every aspect of American life, from health and work to education and exercise.” Not to mention, a recent Gallup poll found that U.S. workers are among the most stressed in the world. Add to that some economic uncertainty and looming international incidents, and you've got a real recipe for hardcore anxiety.
Sure, you can combat your stress by hitting the gym. But I was finding that when the tension really gets turned up, a good sweat sesh just didn’t cut it anymore. Perhaps our bodies get used to it. So I started looking for other tools to add to my arsenal. Here’s where my research led me. And if they can help me, hopefully they can help you ease your stress too.
Don’t Underestimate Breathing
Best for: General Anxiety
Dan Brulé, author of Just Breathe, says "Breathing is the link between body and mind—it's a tool." Take a deep, slow inhale through your nose. Hold it in for three seconds, then, placing your top front teeth on your bottom lip, slowly let the air pass through your teeth in a long, passive exhale. This ideally should take at least twice as long as your inhale. At the bottom of the exhale, pause for a moment, take a normal breath and then repeat. Do this at least three times. This exercise lowers your heart rate and calms the body's natural stress response, so it's handy during anxiety-inducing situations.
Use Your Hands
Best for: Restless Energy
When my mind is racing, I tend to get fidgety hands. I pull on my earlobe, tap my pen against my desk (annoying anyone around me) or scratch the back of my scalp. Then someone recommended these buildable magnets to occupy my manual fixation. Over 500 perfectly crafted miniature magnets provide endless options for building and mashing. Plus, as a desk toy, the nickel-plated balls are pretty handsome.
Magnet Balls, $34.95 by Speks
Ease the Pressure
Best for: Tension Headaches and Migraines
If you're concerned about the amount of Excedrin you're pounding due to tension headaches, consider an herbal alternative. Hilma's clinically proven blend of natural drug-free ingredients provides relief when you need it, but even more importantly works in the long term. The formula includes powerful plants and minerals that also help to strengthen your system over time so you experience less tension in the long term.
Tension relief supplements, $17 by Hilma
Give Yourself a Massage
Best for: Sore muscles and tension
I originally thought that mechanical foot massagers were something you regretted buying from SkyMall. But after trying a few, I’m happy to report that I was very wrong. And there have been several studies which have shown a foot massage can lower stress at nearly the same level a full body massage would. This massager is equipped with three different massage modes (each with three different intensities), which use a combination of rolling foot massage and compression for varying sensations. You slide your dogs in and are overcome with instant relaxation that calms a pounding heart.
Shiatsu foot massager, $129.99 by Renpho
Chew Some CBD
Best for: General stress and aggravation
By this point, you've probably tried CBD in some capacity. But these gummies are specifically formulated to relax you out when you're feeling dread, anxiety or stress (hence, the name). The main ingredients are 100% industrial hemp oil, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D-3 (the same vitamin your body produces when exposed to the sun). Chew two of these when you feel your stress levels rising and let a wave of chill wash over you.
CBD gummies, $23 by Sunday Scaries
Soak Away Your Troubles
Best for: Warm relaxation and rejuvenation
A therapeutic soak is as simple as tossing a few handfuls of Epsom salt into the bathtub as your water is filling. The mineral salt has long been recommended to relieve sore, tense muscles but this goes one better with soothing eucalyptus and mandarin oil. It's hard not to relax when soaking in warm water and there's something about the steam surrounding me that results in deeper, more meditative breaths. Add to that the benefits of aromatherapy, and the stress just melts away.
Onsen bath salts, $33 by Earl of East
Sleep It Off
Best for: Tired, worn-out bodies
Weighted blankets have been so popular over the past few years because they’re said to relieve anxiety and improve sleep quality—both of which come in handy when you’re feeling stressed. Casper has introduced a simple, minimalist blanket that comes in three different weights to suit your comfort level. Just pulling it over your body feels a bit like a full-body hug. And if you want to power nap to escape a tough day, this blanket lulls you to sleep quickly.
Weighted blanket, from $99 by Casper
* FYI: According to the National Institute of Health, continued strain on your body from stress may eventually lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. This stuff is no joke.