Could this self-soothing piece of jewellery actually help you cope in tense situations? This TikTok trend has really taken off in recent months, and if the influencers are right, it could be the next big thing for treating anxiety. But do they actually work? In this article, we uncover all you need to know about anxiety rings and whether they can help with stress and anxiety.
What are anxiety rings?
First seen on TikTok, these rings are the latest trend being shared by influencers and TikTok users who like to impart tips and advice for all kinds of things. Be aware though that not everything you see on social media works and there are a great many fads spreading on the platform that are unsafe, illegal, or downright strange. Be careful which of these trends you choose to participate in and do your research first.
Anxiety rings are the new generation of fidget spinners, designed to keep anxious minds occupied and help diffuse tension in stressful situations. They look a lot like a regular ring but are fitted with either rotating balls that you can turn with your finger, or a rotating outer band that spins.
There are a variety of designs you can find online, from different metals and shapes to different designs. If you’re using an anxiety ring to reduce stress and tension, it’s a good idea to find one that you like – it should be something you enjoy wearing.
How do anxiety rings help with stress?
Anxiety rings, like fidget spinners, are designed to distract the mind and keep the hands busy. Unlike fidget spinners, however, anxiety rings are aimed less at kids. In fact, they’re popular amongst people of all ages.
By using your finger or fingers to spin the ring, you are using what’s called a ‘grounding technique’. This is not a new phenomenon. Counsellors and psychologists have been using grounding techniques to help their clients centre themselves, diffuse tension and anxiety, and bring their heart rate down, for many decades – just like stress balls of the 90s, or the ‘woosaa’ and earlobe rubbing you saw detective Marcus Burnett use in Bad Boys II.
The idea behind a grounding technique is to have something physical you can do at any time, in any place, whenever stress or anxiety arise. The key to managing anxiety in the moment is to ‘ground’ yourself by giving your brain something calming to focus on. There are many kinds of things you might find soothing, such as counting your breaths, naming things you can hear or see around you, going for a walk and concentrating on your steps, and more. Anxiety rings are just another way of giving your mind a break in times of stress.
But do anxiety rings really work?
Whether anxiety rings really work will come down to the individual. If you suffer from stress or anxiety, you may find that an anxiety ring works wonders for helping you ground yourself when tensions arise. It’s a simple technique, you can have your ring with you almost anywhere you go, and the spinning action is available to you instantly, whenever anxiety creeps up. Even better, there is an anxiety ring to suit just about anyone’s budget, so it doesn’t involve a huge outlay of money to give it a try.
But if you’re suffering with severe anxiety; an anxiety ring will not likely be enough. The fact is, although they may provide some temporary relief, anxiety rings are not treating the cause of your anxiety – which means they’re not going to help you tackle it once and for all.
What do experts say about anxiety rings?
Many experts, including psychologists and psychiatrists, have picked up on the trend lately and have spoken publicly about their thoughts on the popular TikTok fad. Here’s what Arpan Parikh, a psychiatrist and senior director of clinical experience for Ro Mind told HuffPost:
“There is often a component of ‘runaway’ thoughts that occur when our adaptive anxiety (the anxiety we all need to survive) morphs into pathological anxiety and impairs our ability to do what we need to do or want to do.”
In moments like these, he explained, it can be helpful to find a way – any way – to bring our minds back to the present. “Having a physical object, whether an anxiety ring, fidget toy or stress ball to focus your attention and thinking towards can help the mind refocus and re-centre.”
But are they the answer to your anxiety? Experts say, no. Cheyenne Bryant, a psychologist and life coach, tells HuffPost:
“Anxiety rings are created to help combat panic and anxiety attacks by distracting and refocusing your brain from racing and overwhelming thoughts. Signals are sent to the brain to refocus your thoughts on the pressure or beads on your finger instead of anxiety.”
She goes on to explain that spinning anxiety rings are best used as a preventative measure, when you feel a panic attack coming on, to refocus your thoughts. They can also be used during the ‘fight or flight’ stage of anxiety, and with pressure applied to the beads on a beaded anxiety ring, can help return the mind to a calmer state. But Bryant and other experts warn: Anxiety rings are no replacement for in-person therapy from a therapist who specialises in treating anxiety.
To crack the code to your anxiety, you must understand where it comes from and how it has impacted your subconscious thoughts and behaviours, then re-program your brain. All of this takes expertise from a trained and qualified professional. Your Gold Coast psychologist or counsellor may encourage you to use an anxiety ring as a coping mechanism for panic attacks and stress, but that will be coupled with therapies targeted directly at uncovering the root causes of your anxiety. Only then can you truly release the hold anxiety has over your life.
The verdict: Anxiety rings could be a useful tool for your anxiety, but they aren’t a cure-all. If you suffer with anxiety and want to tackle it effectively, it’s time to see a psychologist or counsellor near you.