Here at MoneyWise, we're fans of saving money. But it's also important to know when to plunk down a little more cash to restore some balance, either to your life or to someone close to you.
Whether you're looking for a gift for a frazzled friend or overloaded loved one, or if you just feel your own life could be a bit more chill, we can help.
From snug blankets to unexpected gadgets that turn any room into a tranquil paradise, here are 10 items every stressed-out person should own that cost less than $100. All prices were current as of mid-December.
1. An essential oil diffuser
There’s no denying the calming effects of an appealing aroma. For some, it’s freshly cut grass. For others, it’s Nana’s home-cooked spaghetti and meatballs.
For those of us who hate cutting the lawn and don’t live with our grandmothers, there are essential oil diffusers.
Experts recommend essential oil blends like lavender, frankincense and orange to relieve stress, but I say it’s important to find a scent that takes you to your happy place.
If part of your stress stems from your messy home that smells like gym socks and the "dog's" flatulence (I'm looking at you, significant other), essential oils also are great at masking that "unwelcome energy."
Th VicTsing Essential Oil Diffuser gets mostly excellent customer reviews and is priced under $35. If you’re purchasing your first essential oil diffuser, you also should pick up this essential oil sampler kit .
2. A cozy blanket
The good feeling you get curling up on your favorite chair with a good book isn’t complete without a cozy blanket.
A snuggly blanket is one of the most useful things you can have. You can, of course, wrap it around yourself for warmth. It will become a magnet for your fur children. (Cozy blankets are universally loved by cats and dogs).
It’s also great for movie nights on the couch, quick naps and as a hasty toga when the delivery man rings the doorbell just as you’re stepping out of the shower.
This Flannel Fleece Luxury Blanket comes in 12 colors, earns great reviews and is listed for $14.99.
3. A portable Bluetooth speaker
If you're subscribed to a streaming music service like Spotify or Apple Music, you already have access to hundreds of albums and playlists tailored for relaxation and stress relief.
On your streaming app, search for phrases like "nature sounds," "calming classical," "white noise," "sleep" or "relaxation." Connect to your portable Bluetooth speaker, and you’ve instantly created your own dream machine!
Just a few years ago, "white noise" machines needed to be within 3 feet of an outlet and had less practical purpose than a sea sponge. A handy Bluetooth speaker can play immersive thunderstorm-in-the-distance sleep sounds -- or be cranked up to 11 during waking hours to play your favorite pick-me-up playlist.
This OontZ Angle 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker is the No. 1 best selling portable bluetooth speaker on Amazon, it has mostly five-star customer reviews and sells for $24.99.
4. Reading socks
At first I thought these were pretty dumb. Socks are for feet, which are the least useful body parts for reading, not to mention the ones farthest from the most useful body parts for reading.
All that said, next time you pick up a book, try putting on a pair of cozy socks and you’ll wonder why you’re just finding out about this now. I’m not sure how or why, but warm, dry feet are a vital to enjoying a book.
These cozy knit socks from UGG , the same manufacturer of those fluffy boots everyone loves, sell for $19.45 on Amazon.
5. Ear plugs
If you can never last long in bed -- because your partner snores (we can't help with the other thing), then we strongly encourage you to pick up a quality pair of resuable ear plugs.
Ear plugs can be used for sleeping; for concentrating while reading or working in a small, shared space; or even during your commute simply to cut a bit of the chaos.
If you’re one of those annoying couple-y people who share everything, please know that resuable ear plugs aren’t for sharing -- unless you like swapping ear wax.
These SoundBarren Ear Plugs provide 28dB hearing protection and earn mostly excellent customer reviews. They're listed for $19.99.
6. A tea infuser
What the heck is a tea infuser, and why do you need one?
A tea infuser makes it possible to buy and brew loose leaf tea. If you're looking for relaxation and stress relief, there's hardly anything more relaxing than the process of brewing a cup of custom-made loose leaf tea.
Unlike the typical store-bought tea that comes in a disposable tea bag, loose leaf tea can be blended and customized for your particular tastes.
Make your way to a specialty tea shop and describe to the store associates your likes and dislikes. They'll recommend a selection of loose leaf teas that you can try in the store or blend yourself at home, until you find the perfect unwind recipe.
This Tilevo Tea Infuser looks like the Loch Ness Monster. Eighty percent of customers give it five stars, and it sells for $10.95.
7. A bath bomb
No, these don’t explode. They fizzle.
They’re made up of ingredients like Epsom salts, essential oils, sodium bicarbonate and citric acid, but nobody really cares about the science behind fizzy soap. What truly matters is that bath bombs smell amazing, sound electrifying, look scintillating and feel invigorating.
You’ll note four of five senses are aroused. (I can’t speak for taste, and I would recommend against trying.)
This box of six handmade-in-the-U.S.A. Organic Bath Bombs includes one called Money Farts — which I hope smells like banana. It has an average customer rating of close to five stars and is listed for under $30.
8. A fidget cube
Do you nervously crack your knuckles, chew on pens and straws or tap your desk with your nails? You need a fidget cube.
Carrying one of these adult toys (no, not THAT kind) around in your pocket can be incredibly calming. They’re proven to help you focus and reduce the amount of money you spend on pen caps annually!
This basic fidget cube is the top-selling model on Amazon, and sells for $1.39. You also should consider this premium fidget cube by theFube , which comes with a protective case and is made of high-quality ABS plastic. It goes for $12.99.
9. An executive sandbox
These tiny toys sit on your desk and transport you to the beach whenever you need a moment of quiet reflection. Use the tiny rake to draw lines in the sand, prop up your lounger and plant your beach umbrella.
Use your imagination to transport yourself to warm, faraway places and hear the sound of the ocean in your mind.
If your co-worker thinks it’s a bit weird, just quietly hand her the tiny rake and motion to the sandbox. She'll immediately be hooked.
This adorable Executive Sandbox overwhelmingly earns five stars from customers and is listed for $24.99.
10. A foot spa
Apologies for all of the foot-focus in this article, but it turns out your feet hold a lot of tension and demand some serious respect.
The beauty of a foot spa is that you can sit it under your desk (at home, not at work -- please, not at work) or in front of the couch while you’re watching television and bubble away your tension and dead, callused foot skin.
Add a few drops of essential oil to your foot bath and fill your home with the pleasant scent that transports you to your happy place. Your feet will feel soft and warm, and your mind and body will feel reinvigorated.
This Ivation Foot Spa Massager averages around four out of five stars from customers and sells for $79.99.
You certainly can buy amazing, calming things for less than $100, but plenty of unavoidable stress in life costs a whole lot more, such as emergency vet bills; broken-down major appliances like furnaces, water heaters and dishwashers; and education and retirement savings.
Be sure you're saving for a rainy day with a high-interest savings account.