My arsenal of tension-fighting tactics is well stocked, and I've got my favorites — the beloved facial massage techniques bookmarked in my brain, the several bottles of essential oils on my work desk, and the foam roller sitting front and center in my living room.
However, my new discovery — Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Gel ($39) — might just be bumping my massage methods to second place.
My quads, shoulders, and biceps are very familiar with the cooling and warming sensations that muscle gels deliver; I've been using them for years to ease soreness and tension after difficult workouts.
One I hadn't yet put to the test was the Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Gel, so when it landed on my desk a few weeks back, I started the experiment.
Two days after a difficult workout packed with push-ups, my aching arms were tender to the touch, and I couldn't even slip on a sweater without whining. I rubbed a dollop of the muscle gel onto both arms and immediately felt the cooling action kick into gear. A few seconds later, I felt the warmth come on, thanks to the trio of black pepper, ginger, and rosemary.
My muscles felt a little looser, but what I noticed even more was how my mind began to relax. The distinct smell of the essential oils created a calming effect, so I capitalized on the moment by deeply breathing in and out. Sure, my stress didn't totally disappear, but it helped guide me to a more positive state of mind.
A little research revealed that the brand actually suggests rubbing it on the back of your neck if you suffer from tension headaches, and do I ever!
As soon as I started feeling pressure in my head and face, I rubbed the gel on the back of my neck. Again, paired with a few deep breaths, the gel's scent helped me relax, and a few minutes later, I felt some of the tension start to release in my head.
Now, I've realized one bottle probably isn't going to cut it. It's a gym-bag essential, but I'm definitely going to need this tension-fighting helper in my handbag, too.