If you'd asked pre-2020 me if I was prone to stress, I would have said no. That's not to say that I never felt stressed. Daily commutes, a busy workweek and a jam-packed social calendar meant that there were definitely times when I felt frazzled, but I wasn't used to dealing with prolonged periods of stress. Then, that all changed. Of course, we all know what happened: a global pandemic hit and totally turned all of our daily lives upside down. When the UK entered its first lockdown, I had an 11-week-old baby, and my stress levels were through the roof. I felt constantly on high alert. I was jumpy, my heart would race at the slightest noise, and I was incredibly anxious. And, baby aside, I know I'm not alone in finding the last year incredibly stress-inducing. Despite all of the motivational Instagram posts encouraging us to see the positive side in slowing down and spending more time at home, it's been a worrying time for many.
As we start to slowly ease out of lockdown restrictions in the UK, I have to say that being able to see friends and family again has been the best tonic for soothing stress. But on days when I can feel the cortisol rising, I've discovered a few products that genuinely help to calm my mind and ease anxiety. Enter the This Works Stress Check collection.
So how does it work? Originally launched in 2017, the range harnessed tried-and-tested essential oils like lavender, chamomile and vetivert, which have been used for hundreds of years to aid better sleep, calm feelings of anxiety and ease nervousness. This year, following a series of MRI brain-scan studies to assess the impact of fragrances on states of anxiety, stress and mild pain, This Works introduced ylang-ylang to the range thanks to its ability to minimise those everyday stress levels.
Honestly, I've always been a bit dubious about essential oils, and I hasten to add here that if you're dealing with debilitating stress and anxiety, then no amount of lavender oil will work as a substitute for seeking professional, medical advice. But there's something about the ritual of using this range that has undoubtedly helped me to feel more level-headed and calm over the last few weeks. And who can ask for more than that right now?
Alongside things like prioritising a good night's sleep over watching another episode of my latest box set, switching screen time for reading time, upping my fruit-and-veg intake (I still love you, Deliveroo) and tiptoeing my way gently back into the world of exercise with some daily stretching, I've really enjoyed incorporating these stress-soothing beauty treats into my routine, and I'm happy to report that they really seem to be working.
Ahead, keep scrolling for my honest review of the This Works Stress Check collection and to shop them for yourself.
Shop the This Works Stress Check collection:
I'll be honest: I need a bigger bottle of this mist! It's a functional yet pleasing blend of ylang-ylang, neroli and patchouli that you can spray anywhere from your face to your bedding when you're feeling particularly stressed. While it instantly makes me feel a little more zen, it actually uses motion-activated technology so the aroma is gradually released as you go about your day, meaning it's more than just a quick fix.
This handy rollerball is filled with a 100% blend of natural essential oils that can be rolled onto pulse points (I find wrists and behind my ears most effective) to ease pressure. I keep this on my desk during the workday and more than anything find that it acts as a reminder to take a couple of minutes away from the screen to just breathe and unwind.
Face masks look set to be an important part of our daily routines for a while longer, but they definitely aren't much fun to wear. This is one of my favourite launches from the Stress Check range—a moisturising, CBD-infused hyaluronic acid mist that helps to actually care for the skin beneath your mask by calming inflammation and redness while keeping your mind balanced with that classic essential oil superblend.
I'm a bit of a lip-balm obsessive, but this is fast rising up the ranks as one of my favourites. The first thing to note is it's definitely more lotion-y in texture than it is balmy, so it imparts a really lovely sheen onto even really parched lips. It contains de-stressing CBD and natural chocolate, cardamom and peppermint oils, which means it feels lovely and cooling when applied and kind of smells like an After Eight. A definite win in my book.
Think of this as a hand sanitiser for your hair. It contains 70% alcohol to kill bacteria on contact, but it's also brimming with nourishing oils and antioxidants to care for your strands and protect them from damage. I'll be honest—I just like using it at the moment because it smells really calming when I swish my hair, but once I start getting the tube again, I think the antibacterial properties will really appeal.
Taking a hot shower is one of the quickest ways to ease stress for me, so I love that This Works has created products that help to elevate that ritual even further. Its CBD body polish contains hemp-derived CBD isolate to soothe and calm the skin alongside brightening lactic acid and purifying pumice to cleanse and smooth the skin. Not only does it make my skin feel so soft after using it, but it smells incredibly relaxing too—a great option for an evening shower or on days when you've woken up with an overwhelming to-do list.