The world is stressful. These 25 items can make it less so.

For inner peace, outer peace, and all your other pieces.

The world can be a stressful place.

We're all trying to have it all and do it all — usually at the same time. And this endless pursuit of work-life-family-health-finance-love-spiritual enlightenment-Netflix balance can feel extremely hard to manage.

Clearly, there's a lot on our collective minds, and it's stressing us out.


Stress is insidious; it makes our body fight against itself. Stress releases hormones in our body that make us tense and edgy. We're restless and irritable, we can't sleep, we eat too much — or not at all. It's no secret that people who are better at managing stress lead happier lives. While not all of us can live our best lives 100% of the time, there are tools we can use to help ourselves get to healthier and calmer emotional places when life gets hard.

Here are a few tools and products to help you stay calm when things feel bananas:

1. Take a five-minute break with a meditation app.

Image via Heather Libby (screenshot).

Pause is a mobile app designed to make you, well, pause. Put your finger on the glowing orb of your mobile screen, focus on your breathing for up to 5 minutes and feel your stresses slip away. There are several apps like it out there; try any of them.

2. Collect data on your stress with wearable tech.

Image via Fitbit.com.

The newest wearable tech is so much more than a pedometer. The latest ones from Fitbit, Jawbone, and Apple (among others) also track your heart rate and sleep cycles so you can get intel on what kinds of situations stress you out. Then you can make a plan for how you'll handle them when they happen again.

3. Wake up gently to soft daylight, a cup of fresh-brewed coffee, or the scent of delicious crispy bacon.

Image via Phillips.ca.

Your morning alarm doesn't have to sound like a high school buzzer. Companies and designers are making alarms that rouse you gently from your sleep with calming light or comforting smells like coffee and bacon. Wouldn't you rather start your day with joy instead of mad panic?

4. Little things driving you crazy? Take out your frustrations on a stress ball.

Image via Amy McTigue/Flickr.

Some are squishy, others are hard and knobbly, but they all help you to release tension and stretch out tense muscles in your hands and wrists.

5. Be the most zen version of yourself with a mindfulness app.

Image via Headspace.com.

Headspace is one app for your smartphone that helps you learn the basics of meditation and mindfulness — no fancy guru necessary, and it's free. App stores have plenty of other offerings like this one for guiding you into the next realm of consciousness.

6. If you have fidgety fingers, kinetic sand may be the perfect desk toy for you.

Image via Thomas Duff/Flickr.

I like to fiddle with things when I'm thinking — it keeps my hands busy so my mind can work. For that, kinetic sand is a lifesaver. This "magic sand" is fun to play with and build into shapes, then to squish and start all over again. You're the supreme overlord in a circle of your own creation!

7. If you've got a cat, Feliway can calm your savage, couch-scratching beast and give you peace of mind.

My cat Fezzik, pre-Feliway. A bundle of pure spaz, covered in fur. Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

To anyone who’s ever looked down at the shredded remains of something they owned and then over to the unrepentant face of a cat they are reconsidering whether they love, these words will ring true: pet anxiety = human anxiety. And in 18 years of cat ownership, Feliway is the only product I’ve ever found that helped limit it. Feliway is a sprayable calming synthetic cat pheromone that mimics the natural one happy cats use to mark their territory as safe and familiar. It's available in a spray and a diffuser.

8. Tune out the crowd with noise-cancelling headphones and relaxing playlists.

Image via Philippe Put/Flickr.

If you work in a shared office space, you know how loud things can get — especially when all you need is quiet. A good set of noise-cancelling headphones and a playlist designed to help you concentrate will help you find your focus and get things done. Spotify has a great selection of instrumental playlists, or you can check out Focus @ Will, which promises "music scientifically optimized to boost concentration and focus."

9. Make your head tingle in a good way — hopefully — with a scalp massager.

Image via Yogesh Mhatre/Flickr.

Some people swear by these for stimulating tiny muscles on the scalp and around the face. Others say it feels like crawling spider feet on their head. Your personal mileage may vary.

10. Walk on sunshine in a pair of acupressure slippers.

Image via HealthandYoga.com.

Walking in these slippers stimulates pressure points on your feet, giving some of the relaxing benefits of a full-body massage.

11. Make anywhere smell like heaven with an aromatherapy diffuser.

Image via Takashi Hososhima/Flickr.

Aromatherapy diffusers use concentrated essential oils to gently fill your home or workspace with smells that soothe you, like lavender or vanilla. Breathe deeply.

12. Give your stiff shoulders a break with the Real-EaSE Neck Support.

Image via RelaxtheBack.com.

If your posture is less than perfect and you sit at a desk for long periods of time, you might be ending the day with a pretty stiff neck. Lying on the floor for 20 minutes with your head in the cradle of the Real-EaSE will help your muscles relax and your spine realign.

13. Get a quick fix from stressful surprises with Rescue Remedy.

Image via Joyce/Flickr.

Rescue Remedy is a little bottle packed full of flower botanicals known for their soothing qualities, like rock rose, cherry plum, and clematis. Keep it in your pocket or your purse for relief on the go.

14. Sing along as you soak with a waterproof bluetooth speaker.

Image via Achim Hepp/Flickr.

Anyone can feel like royalty in the right bath. Make yours extra-luxe with a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, battery-operated candles, extra-large extra fluffy towels, and a memory foam bathmat.

15. Channel your inner kid with a grown-up coloring book.

Image via Ambography/Flickr.

It's wonderful to see coloring for grown-ups becoming a big thing. Take a few minutes with paints, markers, or pencil crayons to color inside — or outside — the lines, and rediscover how good it felt to as a kid to make art.

16. Train your brain with a brainwave sensing headband.

Image via Gaiam.com.

The Muse headband detects changes in your brainwaves to determine when you're experiencing stress. Together with a mobile app, it will help you train your brain to manage anxiety and find your calm.

17. Rest up in a $25,000 napping pod.

Image via Hammacher Schlemmer/Hammacher.com.

Enjoy a relaxing nap in this ergonomic napping pod, complete with memory foam mattress. Just don't think about the fact that it costs $25,000 yet, inexplicably, doesn't include a blanket or a pillow. Or how long the purchase of it will be accruing interest on your credit card as you slowly pay it off. Shhhh. Sleep. Sleeeeep.

GIF from "The Princess and the Frog."

If you'd rather de-stress in a way that doesn't involve buying things, there are many no-cost options, too:

18. Cut your browser clutter and open-tab stress with OneTab.

The OneTab icon in my browser window. Also recommended: the Momentum landing page plugin. Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

Take a quick look: How many tabs do you have open in your browser right now? How many of them actually need to be open? The OneTab browser extension for Chrome and Firefox helps you clear browser clutter (and free up extra memory) by collecting all your open tabs into a list that you can go back to later.

19. Do absolutely nothing for two minutes.

Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

One of the key elements of meditation is stillness and a clear, empty mind. The best way to get there? Click over to this website by Calm and do nothing, absolutely nothing for two whole minutes. Can you do it? Give it a try. We'll wait here.

20. Snack on stress-busting foods like blueberries, almonds, and dark chocolate.

Image via Sandra/Flickr.

Adding foods with calming effects like turkey breast, oatmeal, and avocado to your meals and snacks can help you feel better as you eat well.

21. Make your bed great again with new (or just freshly-cleaned) sheets.

Image via Alex Saunders/Flickr.

We spend a full one-third of our lives in bed, so it's important our sheets and coverlets are up to the task. Find a style of sheet you like — maybe that's unbleached organic or ultra-smooth 800-thread-count Egyptian cotton or fuzzy soft flannel or cooling silk. There's a perfect sheet for every sleep style — find yours and enjoy better ZZZZs, guaranteed.

22. Browse through comedy videos and find your next laugh.

Image via Francois Reiniche/Flickr.

There's a reason people say "laughter is the best medicine" — it's really true. If you're tensed up at your desk or on the go and need a chuckle, there are streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and others, or you can find plenty of laugh-out-loud videos on YouTube. And if all else fails, there are always aww-worthy GIFs online to brighten up a dark day.

23. Snuggle up in the fuzziest fuzzy blanket in the history of fuzziness.

Image via Steve Voght/Flickr.

Only you can decide which fuzzy blanket has the right level of fuzziness for your taste. Once you find it, you'll never want to crawl out from under it. It's a great investment and the perfect way to de-stress after a long day.

24. Adopt a rescue pet and soothe your soul.

Sierra Nelson Hay is a very good rescue dog; yes, she is. Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

A number of studies suggest that getting a rescue pet can reduce your stress and help you live longer. Plus, you're giving another little being a second chance on life! Be sure to get in lots of daily cuddle sessions; just a few minutes of time spent snuggling a pet can cause your body to release the feel-good hormone oxytocin and lower your blood pressure.

25. Lounge in a hammock rocking gently on a white sand beach.

Image via Micky**/Flickr.

OK, so chances are you don't have this in or near your home right now — and if you do, I'd really love to find out why you're reading an article about stress instead of one about "having an awesome life." But hammocks are excellent places for naps, reading, or just relaxing in bliss, especially on a warm, sunny, beachy day.

See? Pure bliss.

A quick disclaimer: I’m not suggesting any of these products are the key to unlocking a stress-free you, and none of the products in this list have paid for their inclusion or received any special consideration to end up here. Anyone who promises miracle cures that work without effort would be misleading people. These products may help, but it’s the enthusiasm and commitment you put into them that will make all the difference. Good luck! Serenity now!

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Prince Harry isn't just a member of England's royal family - he's also a new dad. He and Duchess Meghan of Sussex welcomed Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor into the world last month. He joins William and Kate's three offspring (George, Charlotte, and Lewis) as royal grandchildren. I assume he's being accordingly spoiled with elaborate titles, jewels, and small islands.


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A celebrated teacher's 5-point explanation of why she's quitting has gone viral.

"The school system is broken. It may be broken beyond repair."

Talented, dedicated teachers are leaving public schools because the system makes it too hard to truly educate kids.

When I studied to become a teacher in college, I learned what education can and should be. I learned about educational psychology and delved into research about how to reach different learners, and couldn't wait to put that knowledge into practice in the classroom.

But after graduating and starting to teach, I quickly saw how the school system makes it almost impossible to put what we know about real learning into practice. The structure and culture of the system simply isn't designed for it.

The developmental default of childhood is to learn. That's why four-year-olds ask hundreds of questions a day, why kids can spend hours experimenting and exploring in nature, and why kids are so much better at figuring out how to use technology. Children are natural, fearless learners when their curiosity is nurtured and they are given an environment where learning can take place.

Most teachers know this. And many find themselves so frustrated by trying to teach within an outdated, ineffective system that they decide to leave. I only lasted a couple of years before deciding other avenues of education were worth exploring. A viral post written by a celebrated teacher highlights why many teachers are doing the same thing.

Michelle Maile was a first grade teacher before she resigned this month, and her 5-point explanation of why she did it is resonating with thousands.

Maile shared on Facebook why she, a celebrated teacher in a great school district, decided to turn in her classroom keys. Her post has been shared more than 67,000 times and has thousands of comments, mostly in solidarity.

"Why would a teacher of the year nominee, who loves what she does, who has the best team, the best students and parents, and was lucky enough to be at the best elementary school not want to come back?", she wrote. "Let me tell you why….

1. Class size. Everything in my training, what I know about kids and what I see every day says that early childhood classes should be at 24 or less. (ideally 22 or less) Kids are screaming for attention. There are so many students who have social or emotional disorders. They NEED their teacher to take time to listen to them. They NEED their teacher to see them. They NEED less students in their class. The people making these decisions are NOT looking out for the students' best interests, and have very obviously NEVER taught elementary kids.

2. Respect. I feel disrespected by the district all year long. They don't trust that I know what I am doing. I have a college degree, go to trainings every year, read books and articles about kids, and most importantly, work with kids every day. I KNOW something about how they learn and what works best for them. Please listen to us.

3. Testing. Stop testing young kids. It doesn't do anyone any good. Do you know which kids slept poorly last night? Do you know who didn't have breakfast? Do you know whose parents are fighting? Do you know who forgot their glasses and can't see the computer? Do you know who struggles to read, but has come so far, just not on your timeline? You don't, but I do. I know some of my best students score poorly on their tests because of life circumstances. I know some of my lower students guessed their way through and got lucky. Why stress kids out by testing them? How about you ask ME, the professional, how they are doing? Ask ME, the teacher who sees these kids every single day. Ask ME, the teacher who knows the handwriting of all 27 kids. Ask ME, the adult in their life who may be more constant than their own parents. Ask ME, then let me teach.

4. I felt like I was drowning. So many things beyond teaching are pushed on teachers. Go to this extra meeting, try this new curriculum, watch this video, then implement it in to your next lesson, fill out this survey monkey to let us know how you feel (even though it won't make any difference), make clothes for the school play, you need to pay for that yourself because there's no money from the school for it. There's no music teacher today, so you don't get a planning time. There are weeks I truly felt like I was drowning and couldn't get a breath until Friday at 5:00. (NOT 3:00)

5. Pay. I knew becoming a teacher would never make me rich. That has never been my goal. I wanted to work with kids. I wanted to help kids. I wanted to make enough money to take care of my own kids. Sadly this isn't the case for so many teachers who have to work two jobs to support their own families. This isn't right."

Maile says the system may be broken beyond repair, which is why she's tapping into a growing educational movement.

"The school system is broken," Maile continued. "It may be broken beyond repair. Why are counselors being taken away when we need them more than ever? Why are art and music classes disappearing when these forms of expression have been proven to release stress in an overstressed world. Why are librarians being cut when we should be encouraging kids to pick up an actual book instead of being behind a screen? Do you know how many elementary students are on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications? Look. The number will astound you.

So where am I going? Because I still love kids and want to help them with their education, I will be an online charter school teacher. I will be helping families who have chosen to homeschool their kids. They also see that the school system is broken. When I told my school I was leaving, I had multiple veteran teachers say, 'I would do the same if I was younger.' 'I am so glad you are getting out now.' 'It is only going to get worse.' 'I don't see it ever getting better.'

It makes me sad. I have three kids that are still part of this public school system. If you are a public school parent, fight. Fight for your kids. Fight for smaller class sizes and pay raises for overworked teachers. Fight to keep art and music in the schools. Please support teachers whenever and wherever you can. I have been so lucky to have so many amazing parents. I couldn't have done what I have without them. I am sad to leave, but happy to go."

What do you do when an enormous system has so many inherent flaws it feels impossible to change it?

What to do about public education a hard question. Many former teachers like myself strongly believe in public schooling as a foundational element of civilized society, but simply can't see how to make it work well without dismantling the whole thing and starting over.

When I chose to educate my own kids, I was surprised by how many former teachers end up in the homeschooling community. Many of the most well-known proponents of homeschooling were or are public school teachers who advocate for more effective models of education than what we see in the system. There's a lot that could be debated here, but alternative models may be the best places to look for answers to the question of how to fix the system.

At the very least, until we start moving away from copious amounts of testing and toward trusting educators (and paying them well) to do what they've been trained to do, we're going to keep losing great teachers—making an already problematic system even worse.

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A teen took the stage with world leaders and unflinchingly spoke truth to power. YES, GIRL.

Four heads of state interrupted Natasha Mwansa's 4-minute speech to give her a standing ovation.

Watch out world. The young women have arrived, and they're taking the reins.

From Greta Thunberg to Emma Gonzales to Malala Yousafzai, young women are taking the microphone, organizing movements, and demanding the world's attention on major issues. And it appears they are just getting started.

Imagine you're 18 years old, preparing to go to college, and being invited to join a panel in the opening session of a huge international conference. Imagine that panel includes four current heads of state, and you'll be speaking before an audience of thousands of people from around the globe.

Now imagine standing up on that stage and telling those world leaders to their faces, in no uncertain terms, that they need to step up their game. No pussyfooting. No apologies.

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