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Best relaxation products the Shopping staff uses


Carving out time for yourself right now might be challenging, from navigating the Covid-19 pandemic to working from home, and even more so now that we’re in the thick of winter and wrestling its obstacles, among them seasonal affective disorder. If you’re working remotely, you could likely use an escape at the end of the day after spending your day cooped up indoors. And if you’re in the Northeast, you’re facing down a Nor’easter that left more than 17 inches of snow in New York alone — and, of course, other parts of the country are contending with their own harsh weather conditions.

All of the above prompted our Shopping team to reflect on products we relied on to help us destress over the past year. From adhering to an eight-step skincare routine to zoning out and into Spotify playlists and staying fit with a trendy workout accessory, here are nine self-care products we felt compelled to share with you.

Best relaxation gifts of 2021

Dr. Jart+ Shake & Shot Rubber Hydro Mask

After a long, stressful day, there’s nothing like running through my nighttime skincare routine while listening to (and singing) tracks from “Good Days” by SZA. The 8-step skincare routine is a nightly ritual, one that reminds me to take a breath, slow down and be in the moment. It’s a process that has come to be meditative. After cleansing, I put on my favorite face mask, which at the moment is the hydrating Dr. Jart+ Shake & Shot Rubber Mask. For 30 minutes, I lie in bed, turn on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and let the panthenol (vitamin B5) seep into my skin. The Korean skincare company also offers firming, brightening and soothing options. I try to carve out some time to sit and be still at least once a week, which reminds me… It’s mask night.

— Kala Herh, editorial intern

Bala Bangles

At-home workouts have been essential to maintaining my sanity throughout the pandemic, and while I’ve invested in a lot of exercise gear over the past few months, these 1-pound Bala Bangles are my favorite purchase. They’re wrist and ankle weights that add just the right amount of resistance to Instagram Live yoga sculpt classes or Zoom Pure Barre routines. I also wear them around my wrist while walking or using the elliptical (when the gym is actually open). The weights have a matte finish, which makes them easy to clean, and they come with a mesh travel case, so I always pack them in my suitcase while traveling. They’re one-size-fits-all, and you can choose how tightly you wrap them around your wrists or ankles using the velcro strap. The weights add a pop of color to exercising, which I personally find motivating. Bala Bangles come in a variety of colors, including Blush Pink (my pick), Deep Blue, Heather Grey and more, and are also available in a 2-pound variant.

— Zoe Malin, editorial intern

Alexander Del Rossa Women’s Plush Fleece Robe

My most worn garment of 2020 was a fluffy fleece robe my mom gifted me for Christmas a few years ago. I like to wear my robe while eating breakfast, rewatching “Revenge” on Hulu, video chatting with loved ones and even while working, admittedly, sometimes with the camera on because it’s just too cozy to take off. What makes owning this robe so great? First off, it meets my primary criteria for what I like to wear on lazy days: It’s plush like a childhood teddy bear, machine-washable for convenience, features two deep pockets to plop in my iPhone and, most importantly, comes in one of my favorite colors: Rose Quartz. It even works as a relatively comfy makeshift pillow when I need to crash on an air mattress. This Amazon bestseller is highly-rated and is available in a sea of vibrant shades, like an attention-grabbing Magenta Pink and jewel-toned Ocean Depth Green. If your sartorial color palette veers more neutral or demure, consider shades like Steel Jacquard and Two Tone Light Blue.

— Nicole Saunders, associate editor

Allswell Gel Cooling Pillow

Personally, if the pandemic reinforced anything — besides the importance of hand-washing and mask-wearing — it’s that I need eight hours of sleep to function well. Subsequently, owning a memory foam pillow to rest my head on at night is integral to my self-care routine. Enter Allswell, a trendy brand I’ve seen pop up on my Instagram feed that consistently caught my eye. After weeks of researching various competitors — yes, I’m that selective when it comes to bedding — I decided the Allswell’s gel cooling pillow is the right fit for my needs. Above all, it strikes the right balance between feeling soft enough that I’m comfortable throughout the night and firm enough that I’m not sinking into the pillow. And while I don’t experience night sweats, I appreciate the light, cooling sensation this queen-sized gel pillow provides when I rest my head down on my Rose Gold Slip silk pillowcase. Another pro with this pillow is I can even use it as a backrest while working from my bed since I don’t own a desk in my tiny New York apartment.

— Nicole Saunders, associate editor

BellaMist Essential Oil Diffuser

Whether I’m starting my workday or relaxing during the weekend, I often rely on the BellaMist Essential Oil Diffuser. The compact device is easy to use and quickly fills the room with mist. Depending on a variety of factors, from my mood to the weather or time of day, my go-to scents usually include peppermint, lavender and clove. In addition to the aromatherapy the diffuser provides, it’s also equipped with a light feature that can rotate through seven colors.

— Shari Uyehara, production coordinator

Nespresso Evoluo Coffee Maker

While many people turn to downing coffee and throwing back shots of espresso when they need to get focused or wake up during a long day of work (myself included), coffee also provides me with a sense of relaxation and peace. If I’m feeling stressed out or in need of a quick pick-me-up, my first instinct is to take a break and frequent one of my neighborhood coffee shops. It doesn’t matter if it’s the morning, afternoon or night, a hot latte is sure to put me at ease. And although the spread of Covid-19 has kept me indoors more these days, I still find comfort in brewing up a cup of coffee or creating a soothing latte at home with my Nespresso single-serve coffee maker. I drop a capsule in the device (usually it’s the Vanilla Custard Pie) and lock it shut, make sure there’s water in the tank and press the start button. Within half-a-minute — or longer if I decide to get fancy and use my accompanying frother — my latte is ready to enjoy.

— Shari Uyehara, production coordinator

Cloudy Melatonin Diffuser

It’s safe to say that a good night’s rest can make all the difference in your day-to-day. It’s basically how we charge ourselves up and will determine our energy levels and focus for the next day. Being an extremely light sleeper, I often found myself not reaching the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Looking for the best solution to my problem, I came across the Cloudy Melatonin Diffuser. Melatonin products are typically a go-to for those who struggle with rest, but Cloudy incorporates other natural sleep aids (lavender, chamomile and theanine) in their diffusers to help you relax and fall into a deep sleep. The brand recommends taking up to seven inhales of the diffuser before bed, I often do less so I don’t wake up too groggy the next morning. With Cloudy, I found that I not only get to sleep faster but I stay asleep throughout the night, which was almost a miracle for me. I also use their Calming Cream and Dream Pillow Mist to create a relaxing haven before bed.

— Rebecca Rodriguez, production coordinator

Jiggy Puzzles

Being stuck at home for the past several months, we’ve all been looking for a way to keep entertained indoors. Obviously, the endless amount of streaming content is a remedy to this problem, but it can be nice to put away the screens, both big and small. When I want to clear my head for a moment and work on my attention and focus, I turn to puzzles. I’m sure some may find puzzles frustrating, and I’ll admit that I often do, too, but there’s something about finding pieces that fit together and creating an image that is both satisfying and relaxing. I got a Jiggy Puzzle over the holiday last year, and what I love about this brand in particular is the array of picturesque designs. You’ll want to frame it when it’s done, and you can: Each puzzle comes with glue and a spreading device to evenly distribute it so you can keep your masterpiece intact. Besides designs, you can also choose from two different sizes depending on how much time and effort you want to dedicate: 450 and 800 pieces. The brand was also founded in Brooklyn, and I love contributing to my local community.

— Rebecca Rodriguez, production coordinator

Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Overhead Headphones

Given the chaotic nature of last year and its lingering fumes stinking up 2021, it’s always been a pleasure to shut out the world if and when I can: To that end, I first turn to Sony’s WH-1000XM4 headphones. They do everything you want your ANC headphones to do: cancel noise or allow you to adjust how much of it gets in, pair quickly and easily with multiple devices and deliver strong and excellent sound. They also look great and are a pleasure to wear through Zoom calls or out and about, if tech style matters to you. One of the first things I do when I settle in to edit a long article or plan the week or month ahead is throw these on and lose myself in what’s in front of me, not letting the outside world barge in. Likewise, after work and on the weekends while chopping away at vegetables or heading off on a walk, I’ve got the headphones near me or on me, ready to help me relocate into a fantasy novel or dive into a podcast lesson. More specifically, nothing pushes me into a plane ride slumber faster than ANC headphones, a great companion on any trip.

— Gideon Grudo, editorial director

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