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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

My favorite sensory tools to stay calm

Over the past few months, I have discovered a couple tools that are, I don't want to say magical, but basically magical in helping me be calm. They're pretty simple, and you've probably heard of them both, but I wanted to share with you because they've been so helpful for me!

Not everyone's anxiety or mental health struggles are the same, and different tools help different people, but for me physical touch is extremely helpful to ease my stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, though, asking my husband or a friend for a back rub often isn't an option for everyday life, which is where these two tools come in. I've used them both in anxious moments to help me calm down, and also just routinely to relax, even if I'm not anxious in the moment.

So what are they?

1. My beloved weighted blanket.

2. A heating pad!

This is not an ad for either of these items, I am just sharing my pure appreciation for both of these.

Weighted Blanket

My husband and I now sleep under this blanket of goodness every night. Seriously, it has improved both of our sleep. You can look up the research of why it works, but I am telling you it's a miracle worker. In addition to sleeping under it every night, I also drag it onto the couch (yes, it's actually heavy) if I'm feeling stressed or anxious, or if I want help winding down in the evening.

I've been asked if it makes us super warm at night, and the answer is no if you get the right kind. We splurged to buy a "cooling" option, and as a hot sleeper, my hubs can attest that it is "just the right temperature" for year-round use. Here's the one we have. Be sure to look into the correct weight and size for your body before purchasing one.

Heating Pad

I did not buy this intending to use it for anxiety, and I have no idea if anyone else uses it in this way! I have mainly used heating pads throughout my life for period pains and a sore back, especially recently in pregnancy. However, I recently realized that this thing's warmth is similar to that of a gently human touch, and it's super soothing! I'm sure everyone has different pressure points that help to calm them, but mine is specifically on my lower back, so that's where I place this baby when I need to destress or I'm feeling uptight.

Until recently, I used a janky food-warming gel bag that you heat in the microwave. You could also fill a tube sock or small pillow case with rice, then tie the open end shut and heat that up. But after about 6 months of jankiness, I decided it was time to buy a heating pad that plugs in and stays warm. Here's what I've got.

Enjoy your new calming tools, friends!

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