Self-Care Journal

Living with body tension caused by anxiety and stress

Endo flare-ups, period cramps, body tension.

Most of us are familiar with the struggles and even though we have tried all the things to relieve our discomfort, the humble hot water bottle is probably a staple for anyone who experiences any of the above. The problem is: How do you keep it in place?

Self Cared’s founder Nathalie is only too familiar with the awkward and uncomfortable attempts to hold her hot water bottle in place: Stuffing it inside her clothes, waddling around the house, doing everything one-handed. Surely there had to be a better way? In this article, she writes about her own experience with body tension and pain, and the solution she came up with to soothe her body in style.

How I came up with Lotties

by Nathalie Reiter

Living with body tension caused by anxiety and stress

“When we experience anxiety, our bodies can respond in various ways, including tensing up muscles. This physical tension is often a result of the body's natural fight or flight response, which is triggered when we perceive a threat or danger, whether it's real or perceived.”

Apart from monthly episodes of period pain, I experience a lot of tension in my body when I get stressed or anxious, it’s been like this since I can remember. Over the years, it’s shown up in the form of digestive issues, the feeling of not being able to breathe due to an intensely tight diaphragm, and most often, just simple muscle pain. The tensing of the muscles in my abdomen, around my ovaries, in my hips, my back or my neck can feel excruciating. Sometimes it leads to headaches or ocular migraines, but most of the time it just hurts.

At its peak, I wasn't able to function without seeing my osteopath multiple times per week, dragging myself to his clinic telling myself "you just have to get there".

In my case, this physical pain is often caused by restless sleeping, a change in body posture when I feel stressed or anxious and the subconscious tensing of muscles because I’m “bracing for a threat”.

Tackling my anxiety at the core through therapy and working on healing myself over the years has done wonders for me, but tension is still something I experience. It’s my body’s way of showing me that something is not ok, that I need to pause, breathe and listen.

I have learned to practise self-compassion and accept that this is my body’s way of coping. While the frequency and intensity of pain have improved a lot over time, pain still sucks and isn’t exactly pleasant.

My hot water bottle and me - a love story

Unfortunately, I’m not big on taking painkillers (gives me more anxiety!), so I try to alleviate my pain in other ways where I can: hot showers, magnesium baths, osteopathy and, of course, my best friend: the hot water bottle.

I sleep with a hot water bottle every night (even when I’m not in pain). I noticed it’s not just the heat that helps to relieve the tension and cope with period cramps, but it’s also the weight of the bottle that calms me right down. It helps me sleep, it’s basically my adult teddy bear. I’ve grown so used to it, I don’t think I can (or want to) sleep without it anymore.

Struggling to keep my hot water bottle in place

When I need the comfort of my hot water bottle during the day, I really want it on my body all the time. Getting up and putting the bottle aside is the worst! I hate it!

Over the years, I found myself stuffing the bottle inside my pants when I had to get up, which either meant lots of awkward waddling around the house until the bottle would eventually fall right through the pant leg (I like roomy clothes), stretching leggings to the point of no return, or doing everything one-handed just to keep that bottle in place. And that’s if I was at home - going out or to the office was always torture because I’d miss that warm comfort and just had to get on with it and deal with the pains.

The idea of putting the bottle inside a hoodie pocket didn’t quite hit the spot either because the weight of the bottle would pull on the hoodie, which felt uncomfortable on my shoulders, and it sort of swung around and didn’t provide heat where I needed it.

What about heat wraps? I think they’re a great idea, but I personally don’t love the look or feeling of something bulky strapped to my waist - it wasn’t quite what I wanted either.

The lightbulb moment

I can’t remember the exact circumstances but one day it just hit me: Wouldn’t it be great if I had a pair of pants that ticked all the boxes? Like a dress with pockets, but instead pants with a pouch? For my hot water bottle! Genius.

So I guess that’s how Lotties were born - sleek culottes in a timeless black colour, made of comfy fabric that looks good, feels nice on the skin (goodbye sensory triggers), and holds the bottle perfectly in place without sagging or stretching.

Stylish pants with a built-in pocket of self-care

I love simple elegance; minimal effort, outfits that take me from day to night through every season. Lotties are just that - I wear them on the couch, at coffee dates with friends, at the shops, on the bus, in the warehouse or at the office. I wear them with sneakers and a loose top, or a nice shirt and heels. AND I have my hot water bottle with me at all times (hands free!) without people noticing - THE DREAM.

I honestly love my Lotties so much and I hope they can help you feel soothed and stylish too. Ready to take on the day. Or chill on the couch, with both hands free to grab all the snacks.

Lotties are the ultimate everyday pants with a built-in pocket of self-care, I can’t wait for you to try them out.

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