There should be a word for the kind of anxiety one feels from extended, collective pandemic trauma and UTZ Chips-induced IBS. There probably is one in Icelandic, but for now, we’ll just call it Every Morning These Days. Luckily (or unluckily?), there are a lot of other people who feel the same way, and a bunch of rad stuff out there on the internet to help ease some of those [gestures in Tony Soprano] relentless, sleepless, stress-induced feels.
Although, hold my bottle of Kin Euphorics, Bella, because before we continue this conversation, it’s realllllly important that we understand the parameters of what we’re talking about when we say “anxiety” in this context. I am not going to tell you that a sunset lamp will cure your anxiety (it won’t), nor am I going to mount a snake-oiled soapbox for self-described curing products that claim to magically heal anxiety disorders (we shan’t). Different things work for different people, sure—but if you need help treating an anxiety disorder, please seek it with the guidance of a licensed professional. In other words, we are not doctors, and this is not medical advice. [Legal pats us on the head, gives us a treat.]
Now that we’re on the same page, we can continue to dump out this carpet bag of objets that, for whatever reason, have helped alleviate our petty anxiety and nail-biting stress. Some of them are ASMR-inducing trinkets or calming mood lights; some are applications, scents, and fidget toys to help you unwind after a stressful day or banish the Sunday scaries.
Plug in that salt lamp, and let’s melt together this-a-way…
Get rid of that grocery store lighting
My question is not so much Why? as it is, How?, as in How TF did it take so long for us to realize that milky, amber lighting would chill us all out? The sunset lamp went viral on social media last winter, and I gave it a test run to see if/how it changed the vibe in my apartment, and, well, it is a bangin’ means for bringing in Relaxation Station vibes. I use it every day, when my roommate and I decide it’s time to transition to the house over into nighttime and/or cozy mode. Plus, it’s great makeout lighting, and now that the craze of the sunset lamp has been out for a while, you can get these babies in a whoooole color range (although I’m still partial to the classic amber, per 311’s creed).
$24.99 at Amazon
$18.99 at Amazon
Make your shower a mini-spa
Still massaging your scalp with ye olde fingers? Pish posh. I mean, technically this scalp massager—which is made by the Latinx-owned company, Ceremonia—is still guided by your hand, but it also feels like the gifted claw of a giant, gentle Muppet that is designed to increase circulation in your scalp; I gave one to my mother for her birthday, and she says it’s also nice for folks who have less range of motion with their wrist movements. While you are in la douche, consider hanging up some eucalyptus bunches underneath your shower-head (gently crush them with a rolling pin, first, to release the scent) that will last for weeks. It’s the little things, man.
$16 at Ceremonia
$59 at Pottery Barn
Body pillows are worth it
Seriously. Any old pillow will do, but if you are also out here enjoying ethical, COVID-19-conscious ho life, it can be nice to have a long pillow to snuggle up against. We’ve already published a short list of our favorite firmies, softies, and budget picks, but if you had to start with an affordable one that comes with its own pillowcase, this bad boy from IGI with a black satin pillowcase is the way to go.
Speaking of pillows, just cover one in silk. It. Feels. So. Nice. I like to smush my face into mine after I do a face mask, or when my pores are clean and ready for bed. Aside from feeling like your own personal cloud, silk is purportedly a great, gentle fabric for your hair, because it retains moisture and reduces friction that causes breakage.
The fidget spinner’s hot cousin
Daaaaamn. Looking good these days. Gotta love a fidget toy that doubles as an art object.
Or perhaps your fingers crave a fidget with something a little slimier? Kinetic sand gives me all the satisfaction, if not more, that I get playing with ASMR-y slime, because it doesn’t get your hands dirty and won’t stain anything. It’s just magnetic grains of sand that stick together. Aw.
Diffuse the vibe
Oil diffusers aren’t just for wellness- and witchy-bent bros (I say this as both), because brewing up some eucalyptus- and verbena-infused clouds is hella relaxing, and the onset of fall is the perfect time to give one a whirl if you’ve always been diffuser-curious. They come in all kinds of vessels, from chic glass vases for the living room bookshelf to one that looks like it fell from Squirrel Nutkin’s tree. Tight.
$49 at Pottery Barn
$29.99 at Amazon
Anxiety-easing apps are worth checking out
Yes, the Calm App slaps, but that’s specifically because I only want to be told bedtime stories by Laura Dern. That being said, it’s kind of pricey. Luckily, there are loads of other anxiety-managing applications out there at more affordable prices, like Headspace and Noom (both have free trials, too), as well as endless free, ambient cozy-bookshop-in-the-rain videos that are really popping off on YouTube right now.
Electric blankets are actually really great
My friends and I have formed a small cult around the Sunbeam Electric Blanket, because it’s a guaranteed way to warm up after work or schlepping around the city in the winter. Don’t worry, these babies come with automatic timers now, so you can fall asleep under its warmth without becoming a human chimichanga.
A cooling weighted blanket for warmer months
As much as I love my Sunbeam, sometimes I need all the coziness of a blanket without the extra heat. That’s where the best weighted blankets come into the fold, and specifically knitted weighted blankets; the ventilation in the weave makes for a super breathable material, and allows for the weight to better sink into all your crevices, and apply what feels like a deep pressure hug.
Get into the habit of a before-bed beverage
One of the easiest things you can do to help with chronic anxiety is to cut down on caffeine intake—and these days, there are lots of delicious alternatives to coffee, from mushroom chai lattes to soothing adaptogenic teas. The ritual alone of slowing down, and drinking something that’s not jacked up with caffeine can help chill out your anxiety. I mean, dude, are you even drinking enough water every day? Anyways, when I lived in France, a lot of my friends would consider the start of their evening unwind with a hearty “tisane,” which is basically just an herbal tea steeped in a massive bowl that would fill the room with chamomile’d steam and their bellies with warmth. Lavender, blue lotus, and echinacea, are some of my calm-down favorites to look for in blends, but if you’re not a hot beverage person, herbal beverages are also having a cultural resurgence at the moment. Now, I don’t know if it’s the placebo effect or what, but I do genuinely enjoy the nightcap of Kin Euphoric’s wind-down nighttime drink, not because it squashes my existential dread, but because I like sippin’ on bubbly, smoky lavender before bed.
Happy unwinding. When in doubt, blast some Enya to the gods.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.