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

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

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

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!

via KTLA 5 / YouTube

A little after 7:30 on Tuesday night, Los Angeles County Sheriffs received multiple reports about a herd of cows running through the streets of Pico Rivera, a city 11 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

This Twitter video does a perfect job of encapsulating the surprise residents felt when they saw 40 cows running through their quiet suburban neighborhood.

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via KTLA 5 / YouTube

A little after 7:30 on Tuesday night, Los Angeles County Sheriffs received multiple reports about a herd of cows running through the streets of Pico Rivera, a city 11 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

This Twitter video does a perfect job of encapsulating the surprise residents felt when they saw 40 cows running through their quiet suburban neighborhood.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."