15 genius products people swear by for stress relief
Need to unwind or relax? Let these be your guide.
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If you haven’t heard of the “Sunday scaries,” it’s a term given to that feeling of pre-Monday trepidation before the work or school week starts up again. No matter who you are or what your daily routine looks like, it’s natural to feel angsty, at least in manageable bouts (if it feels unmanageable, consulting a doctor is the best practice). For days like Sundays—or, say, a particularly rough Wednesday—when your uneasiness feels acute, these products may help you refocus your attention, settle down, and recharge to face any challenge life throws you.
1. A weighted blanket for cuddling up
Weighted blankets are much more than a faddish trend—they actually work. Laying the heavier-than-most blanket over your body mimics the feeling of receiving a hug or being held and, in turn, may calm the nervous system. These blankets can help you unwind and fall asleep easier and they come in a variety of sizes, weights, and colors to suit your bed or couch. Consider our favorite, the Gravity Blanket, which we love for its high-quality feel and washable cover, or our Best Value pick from YnM, a great option on a budget.
2. An adult coloring book that redirects your focus
If you’re someone who likes to channel stress into creativity, this coloring book is for you. The popular Secret Garden book has dozens of floral designs ranging from simplistic to extremely detailed. When you want to distract your mind, grab a set of drawing pens and get lost in the pages.
3. An oil diffuser for creating a calming atmosphere
Oil diffusers are not cure-alls, but aromatherapy is thought to help improve physical and emotional health. Our favorite oil diffuser from InnoGear is easy to use and can run continuously for up to nine hours. To experiment with different scents, snag a multipack of essential oils, like this one from Artnaturals, which includes lavender, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, frankincense, sweet orange, lemongrass, and eucalyptus.
4. A kit that teaches you a soothing craft
It’s no mystery that crafting projects have a calming effect. Needlecrafts especially offer an artistic outlet as well as a rhythmic movement pattern, and they result in the creation of something beautiful you can treasure and be proud of. If you’ve never tried one, we suggest learning to knit, crochet, or do needlepoint with kits from We Are Knitters. You can choose from dozens of stylish hats, scarves, sweaters, and more, filtering among four skill levels. Next time you’re stressed, plop down with your kit, which includes all the materials you need and instructions.
5. A yoga mat for stretching and meditating
Sometimes the best remedy for an anxious mind is to get your body moving with yoga or stretching. For a worthy workout surface, or for a place to sit still as you meditate, we suggest our favorite yoga mat, the Lululemon Reversible Mat. Our tester says the 5mm mat is soft enough to be comfortable on your hands, feet, and knees but firm enough to keep you supported.
6. Epsom salts for relaxing in the tub
There’s something simply satisfying about turning an everyday task like bathing into a moment of self-care. When you feel tense, draw a bath and add the Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salts, which are scented with lavender and claim to ease aches and pains while soothing your mind and body.
7. A set of fidget toys for restless hands
If bouts of nervousness tend to occur during times when you’re supposed to sit still, like in a meeting or during your commute, a fidget toy may help. This variety pack comes with 22 sensory toys, like mesh balls, stretchy strings, a Rubik's-like cube, and more. Keep one in your bag, at your desk, by your bed, or anywhere else you’d want to reach for it.
8. A journal that prompts thoughtful responses
It’s well known that writing down your feelings can help you make sense of them and provide emotional release. But diaries—or rather, the pressure of the blank pages—can bring about unintended stress. The “Start Where You Are” journal includes inspirational quotes, writing prompts, list-making templates, and spaces for drawing that make it feel fun and low-pressure. There’s no need to write every day or to map out what you want to say—just start where you are today.
9. A reusable drawing board designed to for doodling
If you’ve never used a Buddha Board, you’re missing out. The concept is simple: Dip the bamboo brush into the tray of water and draw on the “canvas.” Your creation will appear in dark “ink” but will soon evaporate, making the slate blank again. You won’t end up with a final refrigerator-ready creation, but the company says watching your painting slowly disappear can help you “practice the art of letting go.”
10. A tea that helps you prepare for bed
Never underestimate the power of a good cup of tea. It’s not a panacea for all the ill in the world, but sipping on a warm, fragrant drink is a pleasantry that can lift your mood and help you find calm. The popular Sleepytime tea from Celestial Seasonings is caffeine-free and has flavors of chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn, and rosebuds.
11. A face mask that alleviates headaches and cools the skin
If anxiousness causes you headaches and the sensation that you’re overheating, a cooling mask may be the chillout you need. Store the PerfeCore Facial Mask in the freezer to keep the gel beads on ice and pull it out when you want instant relief from tension-related headaches and skin flushing.
12. A book of word searches to distract your mind
A fun mental challenge can help alleviate negativity and give you a clear objective to focus your mind on. This Brain Games book features 84 word search puzzles on a variety of themes that’ll keep you engaged even when you’re stressing. Whether you’re commuting, on a lunch break, or at home after a long day, crack open the book for a quick sleuth session.
13. An app for guided meditation
Meditation is a helpful skill to learn if you often experience racing thoughts or restlessness. Not sure where to start? The Headspace app offers a library of themed courses, daily meditations, sleep sounds, and bedtime exercises to get you into the practice—and it's free to try.
14. A back massager to work out any kinks
If daily life causes your muscles to clench and knot, you’ll love the Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager. The plug-in pillow heats up and uses deep kneading rollers to dissolve tension. Plant the pillow in a chair or on the floor behind your back or neck and get ready to zen out.
15. A jigsaw puzzle for a hands-on activity
The best thing about a puzzle is that it makes you feel like you’re being productive and making progress on something, while finding joy as you add each individual piece. Plus, you can make it as short- or long-term of a project as you want—as long as you start it on an otherwise seldom-used table or use a portable surface specifically for the hobby. Snag a jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger, which offers an enormous variety of vibrant, scenic puzzles with a wide range of pieces, to work on whenever you want to loosen up.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.