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Anxiety disorders impact an estimated 40 million adults in the U.S., and while anxiety is considered treatable, the majority of those suffering from it often don’t seek medical care.
As someone with generalized anxiety disorder, I’m all too familiar with the peaks and valleys that come from living with this highly common (yet at times extremely disruptive) condition. From frequent muscle tension in my neck and shoulders to full-scale panic attacks that have left me feeling like a bear was sitting on my chest, anxiety can seem like a wave that’s ready to pick me up and sweep me away at a moment’s notice.
Because May is Mental Health Awareness Month and anxiety is one of the most well-known (yet hard to manage) disorders, I’ve put together this list of anxiety relief products that have helped me and others on staff practice self-care and establish soothing techniques for when it all just gets too overwhelming.
While none of the items listed below can cure anxiety, nor should they be used in favor of a treatment plan established between you and a trusted healthcare provider, they may be able to promote peace, mindfulness, and greater body awareness—all of which are great things to aim for if you’re seeking holistic solutions for anxiety relief.
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1. A meditation app that encourages mindfulness
Life gets hectic, and if you’re someone who’s coping with anxiety, the constant push and pull of outside life can have a way of spilling into your interior corridors: your body and even moreso your mind. For some, meditation can be a way to take the edge off and regain a sense of agency, and the best meditation apps can provide a perfect conduit to some fundamentally helpful techniques, especially for those new to the practice.
An app like Headspace, which offers an easy interface and a variety of guided sessions, is our choice for the best overall. In her review, Reviewed staff writer Lindsey Vickers—a self-confessed skeptic at first—found Headspace to be a well-rounded option for those striving to gain peace of mind and body and develop an easy-to-follow meditation routine.
2. This planner that’ll help you explore more of your passions
One of the hardest parts of having an anxiety disorder is that it can consume much of your day-to-day focus, making it difficult to break away and concentrate on creative projects, tasks, and other activities that might be on your to-do list. Melissa Lee, a senior staff writer at Reviewed, swears by Passion Planner, which makes annual and weekly planners designed to not only help you prioritize projects and remember upcoming events, but also practice gratitude toward yourself through reflection, motivational prompts, and more.
With a 4.6-star rating on Amazon and more than 200 positive reviews, the daily undated planner is good for three months and can be a great way to start incorporating planners into your daily routine. According to Melissa, “[Passion Planner] helps me organize my day-to-day and also keep my brain intact.”
3. An essential oil diffuser and aromatherapy set for promoting calm
Essential oil diffusers can make your home smell like a spa, infusing each room with the relaxing aroma of your choosing. Whether you prefer zesty peppermint or the tranquil allure of lavender, the best scents spread from corner to corner and can leave you feeling like you just wrapped yourself in comfort.
When I’m feeling anxious, my oil diffuser is a go-to option because it feels like it sets my senses at greater ease. Our favorite one, the Airomé Serenity oil diffuser, has a 4.4-star rating on Amazon and close to 1,000 glowing reviews. Our own testers loved its simple, easy-to-use design, portability, and even diffusing. Pair this with Lagunamoon’s cult-favorite six-pack of essential oils (more than 81,000 Amazon shoppers give it a 4.4-star rating) and you’ll have everything you need to get started.
4. A pressure cooker that can help take the stress out of meal prep
Some people cook to relax and feel at ease. I am not one of those people. For me, planning meals can be a major source of anxiety because, although I want to eat healthy, balanced meals throughout the week, it’s difficult to get motivated and concentrate on recipes, especially ones that require a lot of care and attention. Instead, I’ll end up feeling discouraged before I even start, which has led to an expensive (and unhealthy) cycle of frequently ordering takeout. Until I invested in an Instant Pot, that is.
While it’s not our top pick for the best pressure cooker money can buy, the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1 (6 quart) is the model I use at home and it’s genuinely changed my life. What drew me to this model is that it seemed beginner friendly. Unlike other Instant Pots that seem cool but loaded with fancy features I’d never feel confident using, this unit is straightforward and seems designed with novice cooks in mind.
With my Instant Pot, I’m able to load it up with ingredients, set it to the right time, and walk away—this pressure cooker takes care of the rest, and it’s large enough that I can make meals in batches, so it’s terrific for meal prep on weekends and helps reduce my stress levels for the rest of the week. I’m still not a master chef by any means, but I’m eating much better now, and I have less anxiety around cooking as a result.
5. This yoga mat that’s ideal for low-impact workouts
Exercising can be overwhelming, especially if you’re having issues feeling connected to your body during an anxiety attack. High-intensity workouts can offer a lot of health benefits, but the prospect of going to the gym right now or engaging in a heavy fitness regimen can be daunting, and it may cause some folks with anxiety to refrain altogether.
Still, there are ways to center yourself, find inner calm, and still perform some physical activities that can be good for your mind, body, and spirit. Melissa is a fan of using yoga mats for low-impact workouts when she’s feeling stressed. Our favorite is the Lululemon reversible mat, which has more than 3,000 reviews on the site. In testing, we found that the surface provided a great blend of cushioning and support, plus it’s easy to wipe down and rolls up nicely, for enhanced portability.
6. A popular clay mask that’s good for all-over use
Here’s the thing about skincare routines: The right products for your skin type can help your complexion look even more radiant and, depending on what you need, may help with breakouts, blemishes, or reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. But a skincare regimen can also be a soothing way to relax after a difficult experience and foster a greater sense of pride and contentment in one’s own skin.
There are so many different skincare products out now and there’s no one catch-all product that works perfectly for every skin type or need. However, Aztec Secret healing clay is an extremely versatile option that’s safe on all skin types and can be used all over the body.
From clay baths to hair masks (and even insect bites), this product—which has a 4.6-star rating on Amazon and more than 52,000 stellar reviews—is made from pure calcium bentonite clay and is ideal for combination to oily skin types because it exfoliates and controls excess sebum. In her review, Reviewed writer Patrice J. Williams recommends mixing with apple cider vinegar and says it’s a skincare staple for her because of how rejuvenated it makes her skin feel after use.
7. This weighted blanket that’s great for hot sleepers
Weighted blankets are really popular right now and are meant to deliver gentle pressure and even weight distribution around the body. When you’re underneath one, it can recreate the sensation of being snugly held, which for some people can produce a relaxing effect. As someone whose anxiety problems can lead to insomnia, I’ve found that a weighted blanket—particularly the Bearaby Tree Napper, which I use at home—can be very helpful toward promoting a more restful night’s sleep.
The Bearaby might not be for everyone. In her review of the Napper, Reviewed writer Camryn Rabideau felt that, while this weighted blanket is beautiful, it can be stiff, bulky, and not warm compared to other options on the market. However, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with the Tree Napper, which is slightly different from the Napper in that it’s made from soft eucalyptus fibers instead of cotton, and because of that, it has a cooling effect.
As someone who’s a hot sleeper, meaning I often get sweaty overnight and struggle with tossing and turning if my blanket is too warm, the fact that the Tree Napper offers all the perks of a weighted blanket but is naturally cooling and more breathable than others is actually a major win. I also love that it’s machine washable, so it’s easy to clean. Since using this weighted blanket (which I have in a stunning rosemary green shade), I’ve had fewer flare-ups of insomnia, too.
8. A gift box of chocolates, because you’ve earned it
Forget diets and the pressure to conform to a certain beauty ideal. Your body is gorgeous just the way it is, and it’s OK—especially during those hard moments when anxiety sneaks up and makes you maybe doubt yourself—to treat yourself with foods that bring pleasure, like chocolate.
“For me, being able to indulge in something that just makes me feel really good—chocolate—is an instant mood-booster when I’m feeling overwhelmed,” says Kate Ellsworth, executive editor at Reviewed. “I also like to reward myself for making it through bad mental health days. Like oh I had an incredibly hard meeting today? I solved a problem that I’ve been stressing about for a week? I made a mistake but I’m not a piece of garbage? Sounds like I deserve some chocolate.”
Kate’s favorite? Godiva. While definitely on the more expensive side of the sweet-treat spectrum, these yummy chocolates could be an excellent self-care gift, especially when you’re feeling swamped.
9. These bath accessories for reaching peak zen
When stress and anxiety feel like they’re about to swallow you whole, it can be hard (in my lived experience) to step back and disconnect. Something that’s blissful about baths is that they can force you to, while also allowing you to luxuriate in things that promote comfort, like warm water, fragrant soaps, and lots of bubbles.
Bath accessories can help take your suds game up to a whole new level. A bathtub caddy tray like the Royal Craft Wood is clutch because it can extend out to 43 inches, so it’ll accommodate most tub sizes, and it offers lots of built-in space for everything from a candle to a book or tablet. It also has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon and more than 21,000 shoppers consider it a fantastic investment.
But why stop at a caddy? The best baths have a way of enveloping your body and senses, and bath bombs can help make every little dip in the water feel more sensational. If you have dry skin (like yours truly), the Prima bath gem was formulated with your type in mind, as it releases replenishing essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus for softer, more hydrated-looking skin.
10. An acupressure mat that can help relieve back and shoulder discomfort
Acupressure mats are pads that are covered in thousands of sharp, plastic spikes, and are similar in some ways to the experience of getting acupressure treatment. While laying down on one might not seem like a fun experience, many folks (including me) enjoy them as an all-natural way of relieving stress and discomfort, especially due to muscle tension in the back and shoulders.
To start, you lay down slowly. While they can be uncomfortable to begin with, wearing a thin layering of clothing to start can help acclimate your body to the unique sensation that they offer. Over time and continued use, you may want to strip down so your skin is directly in contact with the spikes, to produce more intense effects.
While it might seem unbelievable, a session on one of these mats (I use the Sivian acupressure mat and pillow set, which has a 4.4-star rating on Amazon and close to 1,500 enthusiastic reviews) after a long day sitting in an office chair can feel incredibly restorative, and has helped to relieve much of my back and neck discomfort. If you’ve ever been curious about acupuncture but don’t want to take the plunge just yet, an acupressure mat could be a worthwhile (and affordable) alternative.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.