Anxiety Help: Products Vs. Lifestyle

If you type “anxiety” into the Amazon search bar, you are met with seven pages of search results. From stress balls, aromatherapy mists, and gummy “calm” vitamins to audio books, teas, and weighted blankets, there are no shortages of possible anxiety relief solutions. In a culture where therapy is still stigmatized and access to healthcare isn’t easy, we are choosing to buy our way out with products rather than sit down and truly reflect. While we believe there are some great anxiety products on the market, nothing can replace positive coping mechanisms and lifestyle choices. Let’s dive into a few of the most popular results, and also discuss how pairing those products with lifestyle choices can truly help you cope with anxiety.

Product One: Zen Premium Stress Support Formula by WellPath 

“Live with ease,” the results page exclaims. “Do you ever feel overwhelmed, frazzled, or paralyzed by anxiety? You’re not the only one in this hectic modern life. We know the feeling, and don’t like it one bit, so we created WellPath ZEN.” Raved about by publications like Vogue, Glamour, Men’s Fitness, and the New York Times, this natural ZEN formula was curated to contain the optimal natural mix of adaptogens, herbs, and vitamins known to support stress relief.

ZEN aims to promote a “calm, positive, relaxed mood.” It uses natural ingredients such as:

  • Ashwagandha – Ancient Ayurvedic herb famed for reducing systemic stress
  • L-Theanine – Natural amino acid that promotes relaxation of your mind and body
  • Rhodiola Rosea – Scandinavian adaptogen known for increasing energy levels
  • Hawthorn – Nicknamed “heart herb” due to its use as a natural remedy for high blood pressure and stress
  • Bacopa – Adaptogenic herb popular for its stress-easing and mood-improving qualities
  • Lemon Balm – Centuries-old herb known to boost mood and concentration
  • Passion Flower – Herbal plant extract associated with lower anxiety levels

What You Could Try Instead: At-Home Yoga, Mindfulness, and Meditation

At $15.85 a bottle, you’re not exactly breaking the bank with this product. Each bottle roughly lasts the month (30 servings, 2 capsules per serving). If you were to find this product works for you, that’s committing $190.20 every year to this one coping solution. In the scheme of mental health expenses, we can understand and justify why this is a tactic many are choosing.

But choosing real-life Zen practices have the ability to induce the same benefits without having to take a daily pill. If you have access to the internet (which if you’re reading this blog, you do) you have access to hundreds of free resources instantaneously. Instead of scrolling your Instagram feed for hours into the night, try a guided bedtime yoga practice (Yoga with Adriene is my favorite) or a guided meditation. Get in tune with your breath and your body. Practice deep muscle tension and relaxation. Find yourself in the present and shift into stillness. Taking time to unplug and serve yourself is a true form of self-care that no pill can replicate!

Product Two: Genius Sleep Aid

These “Smart Sleeping Pills” sell visions of falling asleep faster, sleeping better, and waking up more restored. They are composed of scientifically proven, natural ingredients. And they aim to help adults calm their anxiety, improve sleep quality, and support adrenal health. With less than 1mg of melatonin, users receive benefits from herbs and amino acids to reduce the risk of dependency.

With 1,870 customer reviews and claims of working better than Lunesta, Ambien, and Tylenol PM, many sleep sufferers are jumping to Genius Sleep Aid in hopes of finding better sleep. But is there something else they could be trying first?

What You Could Try Instead: Adjust Your Diet

The things you eat before bed don’t just affect your dreams. What you eat has more of an effect on how you snooze than you may think. And if you’re wondering if healthier eating leads to healthier sleeping, you would be correct. Diets low in fiber and high in saturated fats decrease the amounts of that good deep sleep you get during the night. And eating too much sugar can result in nights of tossing, turning, and continual wake-ups. A balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and grass-fed meats could both help you drift off faster and sleep longer.

If you’ve ever suffered from nighttime heartburn, you know how hard and miserable it can be to fall asleep. It makes sense that those with nighttime gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux disease flareups are more likely to have sleep problems and disorders. Do you best to avoid fried and high-fat meals, spicy foods, alcohol, and carbonated sugary drinks close to your bedtime. And while anxiety is not a listed cause of GERD, there are studies showing the correlation between those who suffer from anxiety vs the rest of the general population. Those falling into both categories, tend to have more frequent and severe symptoms.

Product Three: Weighted Blankets

Remember how it felt to crawl underneath one of your great-grandmother’s quilts and how the heaviness of it felt comforting, calming, and relaxing? Weighted blankets are the essence of that. A study published in 2015 found that a weighted blanket lengthened average sleep time. The study also found a decreased disruptive movement of people suffering from anxiety, stress chronic pain, and insomnia.

There are a number of conditions that have been shown to be helped when using a weighted blanket. For starters, the deep pressure sensation of a weighted blanket covering the body has been described by some to be like “a big hug”. The deep pressure is relaxing and calming, which is especially useful for sleep. Special attention is paid to the texture of the blanket for those who are particularly touch-sensitive. Weighted blankets first gained their popularity among children and adults with sensory processing disorder (SPD).

What You Could Try Instead: Go to Regular Therapy Sessions

Why settle for inanimate support when you could find support in a therapist? Instead of just drying your tears (am I the only one that has a blanket that acts as a glorified tissue?), therapists are able to help empower you to find patterns between your thoughts, feelings, and actions. They listen with unbiased ears, prepped to help you with whatever obstacle you can’t seem to get over. And while they will also challenge you, trusting someone enough to open up to and being vulnerable to ask for help are keys to living a better quality of life.

Plus, therapists are there to respond and communicate with you, provide you with education and coping techniques, and help you build the support team you need. Can your blanket do that?

Life Choices for Anxiety Reduction with CPA 

Life is going to continually throw us obstacles. What matters most is not what comes our way, but how we cope with it. The next time a challenge comes your way, reflect on this information and recognize if you fall into patterns of “stress retail therapy”. We know you need a toolbox full of skills in order to cope with the challenges that life throws at us and begin to reduce chronic stress. At CPA, we will always encourage patients to explore coping mechanisms that work best for them. However, we also know that a number of those skills come from counseling and different therapy methods.

Cristina Panaccione and Associates has locations in the South Hills and Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so Check out our services pages to learn more about the ways we can help teach you the skills to cope with anxiety.

* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.

Scott Cunningham

For the past 20 years, Scott has been providing a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable talking about their depression, fears, stresses, and hopes for life. Having a collaborative relationship with clients is important to him. Scott brings hope and knowledge into his sessions and provides psycho-education to aid in the effectiveness of therapy. He works with clients coping with issues such as, but not limited to anxiety, trauma, depression, partner-relational issues & phase of life transitions. My experience entails couples, adolescent, family and adult counseling. He is certified in Chemical Dependency Counseling, ASIST Suicide Intervention, Crisis Intervention Stress Management, and Comprehensive Crisis Management. He has earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling Education from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor’s of Science in Christian Counseling from Fort Wayne Bible College.

Scott’s goal is to help people struggling with trauma to regain stability and strength as well as insight into their issues. He believes that everyone has an innate ability to grow and learn. He enjoys helping people accomplish that goal and live better and more productive lives.


When was the last time someone listened to you?  Really listened and provided active feedback.

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