Looking for some stress relief? We’ve got you covered with these 8 tools
In August I came across the concept of surge capacity in an article on Medium. A concept defined by the author as a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters. She went on to explain that “natural disasters occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. Pandemics are different — the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely.” The longer it goes on the more our surge capacity becomes depleted and the more we struggle to renew it.
2020 has thrown everyone challenges. As we struggle through a new normal that is ever changing, we’re faced with a future that is more uncertain and unpredictable than ever. This has been a year that has included isolating from the support system that carries you through life’s challenges, the closing and opening of schools, religious institutions, and businesses, a virus for which there is no cure, the shuttering of entire cities and transport systems, job uncertainty, illness and everchanging rules and regulations.
With all this, it is no wonder that levels of stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. While some may need to seek professional medical guidance and require the help of medication, for others personal practices like exercise, meditation, hobbies or time off offer relief. There are also a host of natural anxiety and stress relief products with ingredients that are known to reduce both physical and mental stress. Below is a curated list of 8 such products which we have tried, tested and have become part of our pandemic arsenal.
Soaring Free SuperFoods Ashwagandha Capsules
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that regulates the immune system and eases anxiety by lowering cortisol levels. it is revered as an excellent nerve tonic due to its ability to soothe and repair nerves which helps the body to deal with stress. It is also used in Aruvydic medicine to boost immunity after being sick. Ashwagandha comes in both powder and capsule form. The powder requires a liquid to dissolve it in (like this apoptogenic latte), while the capsules can be swallowed down with water as you would any other capsule.
While I love adding it to drinks and smoothies, I find the capsules to be more convenient and easier to take regularly. It is recommended to take 2-6 capsules (I always start with the lowest amount suggested) for at least one month – you can cycle on and off, taking it during times that are higher stress. Soaring Free Superfood Ashwagandha capsules are made with 100% organic ashwagandha, the capsules themselves are veggie capsules. There’s also no fillers, binders or anti-caking agents in it, it is sustainably grown in India and is non GMO. Lastly, their packaging is 100% biodegradable.
2. Soaring Free Superfoods CBD Chocolate
The most effective way of taking CBD is by using a CBD oil taken under the tongue as it absorbs the fastest, which gives you quicker results. However, there are many other ways of using CBD, one of which is through edibles. Edibles containing CBD, like this Soaring Free Superfoods CBD Chocolate will take longer to absorb via the digestive system but have the benefit that they stay in your system for a longer period of time. The Soaring Free Superfoods CBD Chocolate is a dark 70% raw cacao bar with a full spectrum CBD oil extracted from THC-free certified hemp seeds. Each bar has 20mg CBD and comes in biodegradable packaging. The recommended serving size is just one block with the maximum daily intake being one bar. However, like with most dark chocolates, one piece is perfect. You cannot taste the CBD, it simply tastes like a good quality dark chocolate, perfect for a night time treat.
Get it here (R120 for 50 a gram bar)
3. Aromadough Aromatherapy Stress Balls
Aromadough is a one of kind product that takes aromatherapy and uses it in a fun and creative way – inside a collection of naturally made Aromatherapy stress balls. It comes in a tub and has a putty like feel. Each ball is made with natural ingredients like Flour, Water, Salt, Coconut Oil and Cocoa Butter and infused with different essential oils – each with its own unique use and benefit. It offers a tactile take on aromatherapy and their products are used by both children and adults – from occupational therapists to corporates.
There are many options to choose from depending on your needs. Perfect for stress and anxiety is their destress, happy, calm and sleep aromadough balls which have a really nice fragrance and feel amazing in your hands. I am a big fidgeter and love squeezing and playing with the aromadough balls – it gives my hands something to do that feels a lot more calming and soothing than endlessly scrolling through my phone. It becomes a bit addictive and a great product for those who like keeping their hands busy.
If you want the aromatherapy without the stress ball, they also make a calming aromatherapy roll that is a blend of lemongrass, neroli and lavender essential oil. This can be applied behind the ears, to pulse points or feet.
4. Nuun Rest Tabs
Nuun is a sports nutrition company that makes hydration supplements. The Nuun Hydration Tabs are effervescent tablets you dissolve into water that have electrolytes and other vitamins and minerals in them. The Rest range is a soothing blend of magnesium, tart cherry and electrolytes that work to support the body’s natural relaxation responses and aid in overall calmness and recovery.
I’ve been using Nuun tablets for years and have always liked their taste which is subtle and not overly sweet. The tabs are made with clean plant-based ingredients and sweetened with stevia. They come in a tube that is also fully recyclable. They are perfect to have post-workout or at night to encourage rest and recovery. They also make drinking water easier. The rest tablets come in two flavours, Lemon Chamomile, and my preferred flavour – Blackberry Vanilla.
5. Wintergreen Magnesium Soak
This magnesium soak forms part of the new Wintergreens Magnesium range which help relax muscles, relieve cramps and reduce inflammation. They also promote energy production, mental clarity, and bone and muscle health. This is a pure magnesium soak which you add to bath water to reduce physical stress in your body.
I love baths and opt for salts and soaks over bubble bath as I’d rather the benefits than the suds. I love this magnesium soak which leaves my skin feeling silky and my body less tense. It’s also smartly packaged. Inside the big bag is individual sachets; This means you know exactly how much to use each time and it prevents spillage.
Get it here (R129 for a 500g bag – 5 ‘servings’ per bag)
6. Serenity Natural Healing Mists
Serenity Natural Healing is a local company that makes a range of Crystal and Flower Essences, Sprays and Oils. Their mists use a combination of two or more healing crystals, flowers, herbs, tinctures, and essential oils.
The crystal star healing mist and sunbeam healing mist are the two sprays recommended for stress and anxiety. The crystal star healing mist is ideal for empaths, ADHD and is calming and grounding. The Sunbeam healing Mist is an uplifting spray that promotes joy and happiness. You can spray it around yourself, objects like linen or in rooms. They’re incredibly nice smelling mists. You can also spray them on your facemask before putting it on if going outside makes you anxious. I really like the smell of them and that they’re not overpowering or too perfumey.
7. CBD Oil
CBD oil is made by extracting oil from low-content THC cannabis plants. This means CBD contains no or very little THC and cannot make you high and is not intoxicating. What it does contain is cannabidiol a key ingredient that has many medical uses and causes no psychoactive effect in humans. It is commonly used for insomnia, anxiety, stress, spasticity, nerve and joint pain, inflammation, and diabetes. For many, CBD oil has become a go-to to managing stress and anxiety.
To get the best results and benefits from CBD you need to take it orally. CBD oil is best absorbed when placed under the tongue prior to swallowing (sublingually) as this allows it to bypass the digestive system. This is done by placing the dropper under your tongue and administering the suggested number of drops.
For an in-depth look at CBD, what to look out for when you buy it and dosages, read this article. I’m currently using Crede’s CBD Oil and prefer using it at night before bed and generally only when I’m struggling to sleep which is not regularly, but everyone uses it differently, so you need to find what works for you.
Get it here (R199 for100mg)
8. Weighted blankets
Weighted blankets have become a popular tool for those with autism, ADHD, anxiety and insomnia due to the Deep Pressure Touch Effect they create. When someone hugs you, that physical contact produces an effect that calms the parasympathetic nervous system. When you’re upset or anxious and receive a genuine hug, you can literally feel yourself calming down, and that’s the same effect a weighted blanket sets out to do. It’s ideal for right now.
I’ve been using a weighted blanket for just over a year and love it. The weight feels comforting and it makes me sleep deeper. I also like the feel of the weight when my legs are tired and sore after workouts – it’s similar to how compression tights feel. When buying a weighted blanket take into account it’s size and weight – it should be smaller than a duvet and the weight of it depends on your own weight, it should be 10-12% your body weight. Ideally you want it to be custom made.
I use the adult weighted blanket from Pretty Special which was made according to my size. It is made from 100% pure cotton and get their weight from Poly-Pellets. Poly-pellets are polyethylene balls. Polyethylene is a raw material which is non-toxic and is completely safe and non-allergenic. I have the one that is fleece lined on one side, but if you get hot when sleeping rather opt for cotton on both sides.
Get them here (from R850)
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Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.