Even the most calm, cool and collected people in the world might experience stress and anxiety sometimes. Between hard times, demanding jobs, illness and economic concerns that may impact personal finances, it can be hard to decompress and find a way to cope with stress. And if you don't find time for self care and relaxation, stress can eventually affect your mental health and well-being.
It's vital to prioritize and find the time to relax right now, because stress affects your immune system negatively. Even just taking a moment to breathe deeply and reset can make a difference and lower your overall stress level.
For some, focusing on things like exercise, eating healthy, meditation or even stretching can help you relax. Even small changes like incorporating aromatherapy with an essential oil can bring a small measure of stress relief. There are even great stress relief products on the market to ease stress and anxiety. But for many people, adding another "to-do" to the list is stressful. And that's OK. What's important is being kind to yourself and others while finding the things that work for you -- not trying to follow what someone else says you should do.
With that, below is a roundup of helpful tools and products that can help reduce stress and find some relief. Keep reading for the six best stress relief products available, curated by CNET editors.
It's no secret that a massage is a sure way to help relieve stress and tension. But getting a massage right now is not exactly easy, since many spas are closed. Even if a spa in your area is open, you might want to avoid an in-person massage right now, as being in close proximity with someone outside of your household poses a risk of contracting the virus.
But if you want a similar effect that you can do at home on your own, a massage gun can come in handy. Many massage guns are fairly expensive and can run upward of $300, but this one from Sportneer gives you a quality product that holds up to its more expensive counterparts for $130. In fact, it earned a spot on CNET's Massage Gun Best List as the best value massage gun. It comes with six different attachments and quieter than some others on the market.
Many people swear by the benefits of aromatherapy for a better sense of calm and well-being. Whether you think they can actually provide health benefits or not, they can definitely make any space, like your bathroom or bedroom, feel like a spa.
Essential oil diffusers release calming scents, like lavender, into the air and some diffusers even have light therapy features. You can check out CNET's guide for purchasing one here and our topic picks. One good option is this diffuser from Maxcio, which can be controlled through a smartphone and with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.
Massage guns are great for targeting specific pain points or soreness, but the best tool for releasing tension in larger areas of the body is a foam roller. Sure, using a foam roller can help with muscle soreness from workouts, but it is also great for relieving soreness and tension from life in general.
Whenever I have a long day and feel the tension build up in my neck and upper back, I usually turn to my foam roller to help relieve the tension. It's great to do before you stretch or do yoga -- I find that my flexibility is much better post-foam rolling and my body just feels better overall.
The OTPT Soft Roller is a great roller for general stress and tension relief for two reasons: first, it's soft, so it doesn't feel hard or too intense if you don't foam roll a lot. Second, it's long, so you can actually lie on it (which is one of my fave ways to release tension in my back). I also find that a longer roller is easier to use in general since you can roll out both legs at the same time comfortably.
Acupressure mats work similarly to acupuncture, which is an ancient practice of inserting the end of a thin needle into your body to relieve pain, reduce stress and provide other health benefits. While there is mixed evidence on whether or not it works, many people report that they find relief from the practice, which dates back to ancient history with roots in traditional Chinese medicine.
An acupressure mat is an affordable solution if you can't make it to acupuncture right now or don't want to have actual needles inserted into your skin. This acupressure mat from ProsourceFit is designed so you can lie on it in a reclining chair, couch or bed. It also comes with a pillow which is ideal for helping with neck pain or tension. Some small studies have shown that it's effective for helping with chronic neck and lower back pain. Even if most of the evidence surrounding these mats is anecdotal, it may be worth a shot if nothing else has helped you with pain or tension.
Many people are getting back in touch with their creative side and spending extra downtime on crafty projects, art and DIY endeavors. But if you don't already have a creative hobby, it can be intimidating to start one, since many require a certain skillset (e.g., knitting, sewing, baking) that can take time to learn.
Coloring is one activity that requires practically no skill and it's inexpensive. Plus, coloring is strangely satisfying if you haven't done it since you were a kid. You may feel silly at first but once you start you will see just how relaxing it is to do something that requires your full attention and keeps your hands busy -- which is important if you're trying to block out work or technology distractions.
There's something about reading that helps me relax more than any other activity, even watching Netflix. When I read, it's one of the few times I'm detached from my phone or computer. And reading requires you to fully focus on the words on the page -- unlike watching TV where it's easy to multitask while a show is on.
Sometimes the sheer amount of books out there makes it hard to decide what you want to read next. I actually find a lot of great recommendations on book Instagram accounts, but if you are looking for someone to curate books for you every month, a book subscription service is great.
Book of the Month lets you choose from five books each month, usually the options are books that are currently popular, but you get diverse options. The price is $15, which is less than what you would pay for most new picks at sticker price. If you don't want a new book every month, you can skip months and the credits roll over, which is nice if you are a slow reader or don't like the options for that month.
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