9 Items You Should Aways Have To Relax

Life can be stressful — like really, really stressful. Not to mention most of us don't have the time or the funds for full spa days or constant beach vacations. It's why knowing some easy and accessible ways to relax and unwind that don't require a ton of money or a full on break from our lives are actually crazy helpful in maintaining a day-to-day sense of calm.

I used to be weirdly anti de-stressor tools, like those rubber stress balls or relaxation techniques I'd see people around me using, thinking that I was way tougher than all of them because I just "dealt with stuff." It wasn't until I purchased a scented candle on a whim for my work station that I finally got it: when you get to work to slog away at yet another super stressful day, having things around you that serve no other purpose than just making you feel good isn't a sign of weakness — it's just good sense. There's so much in life that can be hard, and honestly, downright crappy, so why not be good to ourselves in small ways throughout the day to make our daily existence nicer?

If you're looking for small and affordable ways to treat yourself, or are just in need of some better tools to help you relax, here are nine items that you should always have on hand to help you unwind.

1. A Scented Candle

Voluspa French Candle, $10, Candledelerium.com

A 2009 study published on PubMed.org found that teens who received aromatherapy were significantly less stressed than those who received a placebo, indicating that it could be a very effective treatment for stress management. Additionally, according to the National Institute of Health, aromatherapy is even used to help cancer patients, based on the theory that certain scents can have an impact on the brain's emotional center and provide sedative effects. So always keep your favorite relaxing scent on hand for when you're having one of those days.

2. A Diffuser

Essential Oil Diffuser, $22.95, Amazon.com

This leap frogs off having a scented candle on hand. Diffusers release scents from essential oils — as well as can humidify — throughout the day, but don't entail a lit flame that needs to be monitored. They're perfect for if you have pets or small children where candles are a hazard.

3. A Warm Beverage

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A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea consumption was linked to lower psychological distress, indicating that it has definite calming effects. A study published by the National Institute of Health also links hot beverages with caffeine to an almost instant mood improvement.

4. Cozy Socks

Cozy Low, $8.99, Worldsoftest.com

This is a personal tip. There's just something so nice about putting on a pair of super cozy socks to hang out around the house in. It's the mini-equivalent of bundling into a Snuggy. Grab a couple pairs of super soft ones the next time you're out — I'm willing to bet money they'll become your go-to.

5. Gum

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According to a study out of Tokyo, the simple act of chewing gum can reduce both stress and cortisol-levels (the hormone our body creates when we're stressed), and participants who chewed gum twice a day for fourteen days were significantly less stressed than those who didn't. So keep a pack in your desk at work or in a drawer at home, and start chomping when stress levels are high.

6. Head Massager

Head Massager, $1.90, Forever21.com

This is another personal tip. Head massagers are where it's at when it comes to treating yo'self. I keep mine at my home workstation and whip it out every time I just need a mini-mental break. I've also found they really help me unwind before bed. Seriously — you'll thank me!

7. A Relaxation-Based Sound System

Ecotones Sound + Sleep Machine, $95.41, Amazon.com

While I haven't technically tried this one for myself, I first saw it on a roundup of stress-relieving gadgets on ZD Net and am super intrigued. It's essentially a stereo that only plays relaxing sounds, like rain, wind, and ocean waves. And if you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, just create a nature sound playlist on Spotify!

8. A Giant Stress Ball

Giant Smiley Gel Sensory Stress Ball, $25.95, Amazon.com

ZD Net also recommended a giant stress ball to manipulate when needed. The nice things about these is they not only help release pent up tension, but they can really help you just zone out when you need a moment of mental space.

9. A Journal

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According to psychologist Lisa Kaplan in a piece for PsychCentral, writing down what's stressing you out — even if it's just a line or two about your day — is super cathartic for many people, and can definitely help you unwind. Keep a journal and a pen by your bed if this seems up your ally and start writing down what's bothering you — you very well might feel a lot more relaxed before falling asleep each night.

In most of our super busy lives, finding times to relax and de-stress can be a challenge — which is why it's actually super helpful to have a few basics on hand to help unwind at a moment's notice. Pick up some or all of the above, and start enjoying some valuable you time!

Images: Giphy (2); Pexels; Courtesy Brands