Fixate over something minor, stress out, cry while watching a video of some cute kittens, lather, rinse, repeat. Especially in the week before my moon cycle, I stereotypically find myself getting far more worked up over trivial issues than usual, though my baseline isn't exactly what you'd call cool and normal to begin with. I've tried different methods, and some, like a glass of wine and three episodes of The Great British Bake-Off, usually worked. Others, like those stress-relieving gummies or essential oils on each temple, proved fruitless. No sooner had I popped by very last stress-relieving gummy did a bar of Antidote Chocolate's Rose Salt + Lemon dark chocolate ($8; antidotechoco.com) land on my desk.
What makes this bar different from the entire block of Hershey's that I'd typically pick up from the nearest Duane Reade? Antidote's founder Red R. Thalhammer takes a "health through pleasure" angle in creating each of the recipes. The bars, or at least the one I was test-driving, are formulated with 77% raw cacao, and use a mix of completely natural ingredients. The idea for the company came to life following a text message exchange between her and a friend—she was apologizing for being a total pill, a.k.a. the mood I'm in more often than not, and he responded, "Don't worry, I'll make an antidote for you." That response caused Thalhammer to dream up a potential antidote, if you will, eventually arriving at chocolate as her answer.
Despite any preconceptions about chocolate, dark chocolate is actually pretty good for you, particularly options that are low in sugar. "Chocolate is high in antioxidants, is good at hoovering up free radicals, and is very good for releasing endorphins," nutritionist Dr. Simone Laubscher previously told me. "Raw cacao actually releases hormones similar to the feeling you get when you fall in love."
VIDEO: Where Does Chocolate Milk Come From?
That actually explained a lot. The bar I had in my possession paid homage to Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth, and the blend of ingredients were so chosen to help relieve stress. With an "I'll try anything once" attitude, I sought out to see how one square a day (you know, like the vitamins I don't take) would help curb my mood and intensity levels. Of course, the world always feels like too much first thing in the morning, but I usually reserved my square for later in the afternoon, post-lunch, while trying to dig myself out of the emails flooding my inbox. As soon as the rose salt made contact with my tongue, I found myself thinking, "holy crap, that is good." There's a faint twist of lemon, but not enough to be overpowering.
So, did it actually relieve my stress? Sure. Of course, this is coming from a person who will stress-eat an entire sleeve of Thin Mints when I'm panicking about something completely minor. I can compare the method to that of using Measurable Difference's Tension-Reducing Face Mist. It wasn't so much the formula of the face mist or the elements used in the chocolate that helped me calm down—it was more about the act of taking 7 seconds away from the thing, whatever it was, that happened to be stressing me out.
Of course, the mere fact that I'm eating chocolate probably helps.