*This is Part 1 of a 3 part series on Designing Happiness. You can check out the introduction here for more info.

Before we can get into all the fun of making our homes and hearts happy, it’s important we make sure we set ourselves up for success. Maximum happiness & productivity begins with our physical health and well-being, so managing stress and anxiety is a HUGE factor.

In an effort not to make this post a billion miles long, I won’t get into my full story now (if you want to read it, though, you can do so here), but the short version is this:

I used to have really bad panic attacks/anxiety, to the point where there were times I could barely function and felt utterly hopeless. I was able to cure* it through diet & lifestyle changes.

(*And when I say “cure,” I mean I no longer have extreme panic attacks or anxiety that is debilitating. Does that mean I never ever feel anxious anymore? No, but when I do it is mild and for a very specific reason that I can address rationally. The nature of modern life means we will ALWAYS have stressors, so rather than rid it completely, I focus on managing stress in a natural and effective way. If you really want to get into it, to a certain degree anxiety is actually a normal human response, and can even be helpful if framed the right way.)

We Are What We Eat

It’s totally true that we are what we eat, so if we eat bad things, we tend to feel bad. If we eat good things, we tend to feel good. Pretty simple science.

So my first tip for managing stress and overwhelm in your life is to address what you put into your body. (In my world, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy, most grains, and processed foods are no bueno.) Now I am not a doctor or nutritionist so I won’t get into individualized diet plans, but I know from personal experience just how important cutting out the junk is, and there is plenty of research to support the food-mood connection.

In addition to a clean diet, I also have some routines and products that help keep me in check.

My Morning Routine

Creative Juices

  • I start by getting up early, usually around 6:00 a.m. and take a shower first thing. (Clean off whatever happened yesterday/overnight and start your day fresh!)
  • Next I do one (or a few) of the following:
    • Constitutional Hydrotherapy: After a warm shower, I lay with an ice cold towel on my chest for 15 minutes. (You can find more about how to do it here and what it is/why it helps here.  👈🏻 This second link is from a Naturopathic Wellness Center in CA — I do not personally know or recommend them, but they had the best, most concise description of hydrotherapy. I see a naturopathic doctor here in CT and you can feel free to email me if you want more info!) There is evidence for all the physical ways this process is healing, but I find, at the very least, it is a meditative experience for me.
    • Journal: I keep a notebook by my bed, and after my shower sometimes I will sit and write about whatever comes to mind — thoughts, ideas, what I did/want to do, etc. If you want a really comprehensive video series on the benefits and power of journaling, I suggest checking out Benjamin Hardy’s Journal Mastery course, and you can get his free Peak State morning check-list here. (This is not an affiliate link or anything — I just think it’s a great resource!)
    • Meditate: I’ll be the first to admit this is a hard one for me, because my mind is ALWAYS racing. I find more success with guided meditations, and there are a few free ones I’ve gotten online. (There are also apps you can download, like Headspace.)
    • Drink Warm Lemon Water: 1/2 of a fresh lemon, juiced, added to a glass of warm (not hot) water sipped through a straw. Lots of health benefits with this one, plus it tastes yummy. 😊

It’s important to note here that none of these takes more than 15 minutes, and I often will combine them (i.e. meditate while doing the hydrotherapy, or drink lemon water while journaling.) They are quick yet effective things that allow me to start my day calmly and clearly.

I also always make my bed, straighten up any clutter, and try to avoid looking at my phone for the first hour or so after I wake up so as to avoid bombarding myself with outside noise before I’m fully ready.

Daily Stress Management

Once my day gets started it is easier to get sucked into the craziness of it all. For a lot of us, time is not always our own — demands of a job, household, family, etc. can pull us in a million different directions, so it is important to have little things to help manage our stress so we can best foster inspiration & creativity (and of course happiness) by staying calm and relaxed. (Easier said than done sometimes, I know, but continued effort adds up!)

Here are some of my favorite products/techniques I go to (as needed) when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed:

GT’s Kombucha: While kombucha in general is not exactly meant to keep you calm (although it has a lot of other great health benefits!), I find that drinking a bottle of GT’s Gingerade does in fact relax me. I mean it does have a smallllll amount of alcohol (and as I mentioned I don’t really drink), so maybe that plays into it. 😂 🤷🏻‍♀️

Not Pot Chocolates / CBD Oil: Like the name says, these chocolates are not meant to get you high — CBD (Cannabidiol) oil does not contain THC (and is therefore non-psychoactive), but it’s been well-documented to possess anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and anti-anxiety effects. I will also use straight up CBD oil in a shot of juice, often mixed with the tonics above OR just the natural CBD oil from Fab CBD. (I use the 600mg and take about 1/2 dropper before bed.)

Oregon’s Wild Harvest Biodynamic Herbal Tonics: I’ll sometimes take a few drops of these bad boys in a shot of unsweetened cranberry juice. They actually don’t taste too bad, but are definitely herbal. My personal faves for keeping calm are are CountToZen, Namaste, & SawLogs (for nighttime).

Chamomile Tea: Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs and is often used for a variety of ailments, but it perhaps most notable for it’s calming properties in relieving anxiety. I’ll often have a cup before bed, but will also have it during the day if I need a time out. (Rishi’s Chamomile Medley or Golden Chamomile Blossoms are my current faves – thanks to my friend Lisa for letting me know about them!)

Add essential oils to confetti

Essential Oils / Scented Confetti: Just like color, scent can play a huge role in how our mood is affected, and I like to use fragrance to lift my mood or calm me down when needed. I’ll either diffuse EO’s, or mess with a jar of scented wellness confetti! My girl @eoenthusiast hooks me up for Doterra oils, although I also use other brands, too.

Candles, Music, Art Therapy: The scents, sounds, and decor we surround ourselves with also play into our overall health and well-being, but I’ll get to more of this in Part 2: Happy Home.

Exercise: This is a new one for me, as I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I was always of those people not really into exercising regularly. I mean sure I liked to walk and be active, but going to the gym? Taking regular classes? Wasn’t really for me. BUT lately I’ve decided to give the whole regular exercise thing a go, and the app that changed it all for me? Aaptiv!! I’ll be honest I don’t even remember how I came across it, but I gave the app a free trial and fell in love. It’s all audio-based guided workouts for the gym, walking, running, strength training, etc., and even includes meditations and yoga. My favorite workout that got me into exercise in general is what I call my “Joy Jog” — the “Bursting with Joy” workout from trainer Jaime. It’s like a meditation + walk/jog that is my absolute go-to when I’m feeling antsy. Oh, and the best part? When you complete a workout on the app, confetti rains down. 🙂

**P.S. None of the above products/links are sponsored or affiliates. (I did this intentionally.) I want you to know that it’s honestly all stuff I buy, use, and love!


Some other things I’ve heard good things about / want to learn more about & try are a calming water fountain, incense, smudging, utilizing crystals, floating tanks, and tapping. If any of you have resources or faves for any of these, hook a sister up! 🙏🏻

I also think it is very important to remember that we all need something just for ourselves at some point in the day (reading a book for 30 min, watching an episode of a TV show during lunch, sitting down to a cup of tea and a favorite magazine, doodling, etc.), so be sure to carve out a special “happy time” for yourself and your wellbeing!

My Evening Routine

Confetti in the sheets

  • As I mentioned above, my evening routine will often start with a cup of chamomile based tea (or this Valerian Dream blend), usually about 30-60 minutes before bed. (No, I don’t actually time it, but when my day winds down and I know I need to chill out, that’s when I’ll have a cup.)
  • I will also usually turn on my salt lamp (the glow alone is relaxing!), maybe light a candle or diffuse some essential oil, color, read, or maybe even listen to some calming music. (This Spotify playlist is one Cliff and I always used to fall asleep to, and now it’s my go-to for chilling out.)
  • I try my very best to limit screen time about an hour before bed, but some nights it’s harder than others. (I’ve even set an alarm on my phone to go off at 8pm to remind me to put the screens away, and even if I decide to finish watching a show or work on a project, at least I am reminded to take notice!) At the very least if I’m going to be using a screen, if there is an option to put on “night mode” (where the screen changes to a yellow tint) I do that. (f.lux is a great app you can download for your desktop!)
  • Right before I get into bed I like to spritz my pillow with a calming pillow spray (remember me mentioning the power of scent/essential oils above?) I have a few random ones I’ve gotten at Marshall’s, but you can even make your own!

What does your typical day look like? Do you have routines and products that help you chill out and keep inspired? Let us all know in the comments below!

Continue to Part 2: Happy Home here.

*Medical Disclaimer: Remember I am not a medical professional, and the content above is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Designing Happiness: A Series for Health, Home, and Heart