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Serenity now: Finding the calm after holiday chaos

  • Chicago Tribune
  • Published Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, at 11:27 p.m.

Right about now we all could use a shot of serenity. Make mine a double.

Oh, sure, the holidays are great. And we’ve survived them. That’s a plus.

But what about us sufferers of PHSD — post-holiday stress disorder?

Since this is a shopping column, and I’m no Dr. Oz (or Phil), I went looking for things to buy to soothe our PHSD symptoms.

I was on the hunt for items that can appeal to each of our senses: touch, smell, sight, taste and hearing. Then I decided to skip the hearing part. You already know what music makes you feel good, so play it. But steer clear of that freaky flute music that they play in spa massage rooms. Or consider noise-canceling headphones to block out the madness.

TOUCH

Cashmere, especially the high quality kind that rubs you the right way, is my No. 1 pick for stress relief. And everybody knows a bright color can perk you right up. That’s why I suggest the cashmere wrap from J.Crew in a bright color. It feels luxuriously soft, and its generous 20-inch width makes it more like a stole or a miniblanket than a mere scarf.

— J.Crew, select colors $99, jcrew.com for locations (sold out online)

SIGHT

What we see when we first open our eyes or have that first cup of coffee has a profound effect on our mood. Color is key. I went to housebeautiful.com to find out what the experts consider the most calming paint shades (“Color yourself tranquil with these soothing hues.”)

“Overcast” might not be the most upbeat name for a paint color (Benjamin Moore OC-43), but designer Barbara Barry tells House Beautiful it’s the shade of the “pale early morning sky.” “Iceberg” (Benjamin Moore 2122-50) sounds a little intimidating, but it’s really just a tranquil light blue. Finally, there’s “Durango Dust” (Benjamin Moore 2165-60), which I’d call beige. But designer Lori Feldman describes it on the site thusly: “as the sun goes down it gets this warm rose blush.” You’ll be napping in no time.

— Benjamin Moore paint, $35.99 per gallon and up, benjaminmoore.com and paint and hardware stores

TASTE

When all else fails, there’s chocolate. And when it comes in the tender embrace of a cuddly teddy bear, I just want to curl up in a chair and fall into a chocolate coma.

— Chocolove, 24 flavors, $2-$3 each, chocolove.com to find a store or order online

SMELL

Lavender “calms and frees the spirit,” says the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. The scent reminds me of my grandma’s hanky, which is about as soothing as it gets.

— L’Occitane lavender hand cream, 2.6 oz., $22, loccitane.com

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