With studies showing young adults spend more than six hours a day feeling stressed out, it’s no surprise that practicing self-care is a buzzword you’re hearing everywhere. On top of the emotional strain, stress can wreak havoc on our physical health, and has been linked to high blood pressure, asthma, and other ailments.
Luckily, integrating self-care practices into your everyday life doesn’t have to be something you stress out over. Start with a few minutes a few times a week and the help of products designed with rest and rejuvenation in mind. From meditation pillows to bath bombs, here are a few of our favorite items that can help you beat stress and stay healthy. Once you’ve discovered your favorites, you’ll also find they make fantastic, mindful gifts. If you’re stressed out, your friends probably are, too.
This bohemian floor meditation pillow will help you start your meditation practice while warming up your bedroom or living area with a bright dash of color. Sit for long periods of time without your legs falling asleep as you clear your mind and encounter nirvana.
If the idea of sitting quietly and doing nothing sounds like torture, consider a recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science, which showed meditation to calm heart rate, switch off the body’s stress response, and enhance a person’s sense of mental well being. Harvard researchers have even discovered that meditation can change the brain and increase one’s compassion towards others.
If you prefer to move while you meditate, this cushy yoga mat may become your next best friend. The Mayo Clinic recommends yoga as an effective tool in fighting stress by combining physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation into a relaxing workout, which can lower blood pressure heart rate. Best of all, almost anyone can do it. The practice is a relatively low-risk, high-yield approach to improving one’s overall health.
When everything else fails, take a bath. Many ancient cultures have long believed in the healing effects of water, such as the Japanese practice in engaging in public baths known as “sento.” According to Dr. Bobby Buka, a dermatologist based in New York, submerging ourselves in hot water can have both therapeutic and reinvigorating effects because blood flow increases to the skin. Bath bombs, like these, takes things up a notch. They smell and look delicious in scents like green tea, pink rose, purple lavender, and white vanilla. They also give your bathwater a burst of color.
Did you know giving thanks can make you happier? Studies show that even taking the time to count your blessings (and record them in a journal) can help you feel more optimistic about your life in as little as 10 weeks. Try writing in a gratitude journal every day to help you see the bright side of things. It also allows you to examine your feelings and dream about the future.
When you’re buying essential oils, look for pure, undiluted therapeutic oils rather than fragrance oils. Suitable for humidifiers, aromatherapy lamps, or mixing into bath products, these essential oils come in super relaxing scents. These scents include lavender, sweet orange, eucalyptus, peppermint, and lemongrass. In a study of aromatherapy intervention at the University of Montana, researchers found that the use of essential oils was linked with lower levels of anxiety and stress, and increased levels of sleep quality and energy in female college students.
Around 1 in 3 people have at least mild insomnia, and poor sleep has been linked to high stress levels. While all of the products above can help you get a better night’s sleep, this eye mask does the trick by blocking out all light with its lightweight, 3D-contoured design. Adjustable and made of soft memory foam, the mask even comes with earplugs if you really want to shut out the world. You can even use it at work when you need a mid-day break from the screen or your annoying cubicle mate. Just try not to use it around your boss.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, and VICE.