Self-care and anti-anxiety products are everywhere, but it’s hard to know what works. I decided to tackle my toughest month, armed with a few calming products to deal with life as a working mom. This is what was looming ahead: My husband’s 40th birthday and my twin daughters’ third birthday (which are four days apart), and several big work deadlines. Instead of twirling into a stress tornado, I tested out seven products that promised tranquility. I could use all the help I could get. After four weeks of sampling, here are the results of my (de)stress test.

1. Saje Natural Wellness Relaxation Diffuser Blend ($45): This essential oil set comes with Stress Release, Spa Spirit, Tranquility, and Unwind blends, which all sound quite lovely, but I was curious if Stress Release would work when a big deadlines loomed and I had a growing to-do list for my husband’s birthday. I added 10 drops of Stress Release to the Aroma Breeze Ultrasonic Diffuser ($80) daily in my home office. The scent gave me lush spa vibes, and when I was feeling particularly anxious, I took a deep inhale. I ended up using the whole bottle before the month was up and it helped the extra long days not feel so nutty. Mid-day, I loved spritzing the Saje Wellness Refresh Revitalizing Mist ($13) as a pick-me-up for a boost of energy without reaching for a second cup of coffee.

Photo of Gaia Herbs Calm ASAP bottle

2. Gaia Herbs Calm A.S.A.P Pills ($16): In each liquid capsule, there are natural herbs like chamomile, lavender, holy basil, and American skullcap, to help destress. Dr. Mary Bove, director of medical education at Gaia Herbs, shares that the herbs in the liquid capsules “have a long history of supporting a sense of calm and peace during stressful moments in life.” Dr. Bove recommends taking any herbal supplement regularly and see how long it takes to work effectively in your body. Whenever I knew I was facing a challenging day (like cranky toddlers or a long work day), I popped the pills with my morning breakfast. After two weeks, I noticed that I was able to manage my days better and while still exhausted, I wasn’t as anxious.

3. Calm the Chaos journal ($15): Pre-kids, journal writing was a great way to destress after a long day or track goals. But postpartum, the thought of journaling before bed seemed like too much effort, especially when much-needed sleep was way more attractive. Even though I had a busy work week and was finalizing plans for my husband’s birthday party, I tried out this simplified journal and I felt a greater sense of peace. The journal, which I used before bed, is designed to be easy yet effective, and quickly reading the “Tomorrow” page in the morning reminded me of my intentions for the day. I found myself taking deep breaths when I encountered a toddler tantrum because I had set the intention that day to breathe through any anxious feelings. The guided simple prompts made it easier to jot down my thoughts. Another great read: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s book GMorning, Gnight ($22), a collection of his most inspiring tweets, was a fun way of giving myself daily pep talks.

4. MoonBox ($34/a month): This mystical monthly subscription box is like self-care in your mail. My February box was packed full of wonderful goodies. I loved using the intention cards as a daily reflection and a simple tarot reading for myself. The crystals were helpful to hold and meditate on. The third-eye essential oil gave me a few minutes to do some affirmations and sit calmly. Every month, the box arrives with different organic vegan products that are holistic and meant to curate some treat-yourself time.

5. Sagely Naturals CBD lotion ($36): CBD products are everywhere from dog CBD oil to sparkling sodas. When a bottle of CBD lotion is labeled Tranquility, I hope that it delivers because some days, I need all of it. The lotion was best used to rub into places where I feel the most tension in my body like my neck or lower back, and great for massaging on my hands too. The company also offers a Hemp CBD Tranquility Capsule ($50) that I took once a day. It felt calming. I added it to my morning vitamin ritual and it helped on particularly stressful days.

6. Calm App ($60, annual subscription): We all know that meditation is great for your mind and body, but I wondered if daily 10-minute meditations could make a difference. When I signed up for the Calm app, the prompts asked if my goal was stress relief, self-esteem boosting, or help with sleep (you can choose several). I chose stress reduction, learning to meditate, and body image. It selects daily 10-minute guided meditations based on my interests and it charts my progress. In addition, it includes calming techniques for kids to use, which I’ve tested out with my three-year-old twins. They love the Blowing Candles three-minute meditation where we all envision inhaling and exhaling to blow out birthday cake candles. The app also includes monthly audio master classes, stretching exercises, sleep stories, and calming music.

DL It: Free on iOS and Android

7. The Pocket Guru (out May 2019, $17): Written by Dr. Siri Sat Nam, a licensed therapist who stars on Viceland’s The Therapist, The Pocket Guru keeps things simple. Pick a topic (like Creativity, Money, Relationships), read power statements out loud, or choose a simple meditation for whatever is going on in your life. The power statements are 11 affirmations that center on your chosen topic and Nam writes, “If you want to change a habit, recite the power statements 11 times in one sitting for 40 days.” I loved that it was easy to read and meditate on certain topics before bed. It’s like having a spiritual guru on speed dial.

RELATED: 10 Ways to Practice Self-Care When You Only Have 10 Minutes

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