When it comes to managing symptoms of anxiety, there are a lot of options out there. Meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy and medication — prescribed under the guidance of a doctor, of course — are a few of them. One lesser-known method? Anxiety rings.
Anxiety rings might sound high tech, but they’re really not: Most are very delicate and come with tiny beads or in the form of multiple bands that spin on your finger. In other words, you can find one that suits your unique style. But how do they work for anxiety?
“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,” explained Arpan Parikh, a psychiatrist and the senior director of clinical experience for Ro Mind, a digital mental health platform for anxiety and depression.
In those moments, he said, it can be helpful to find ways to bring ourselves 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-center.”
Do anxiety rings work?
If you struggle with acute anxiety — and according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 40 million adults in the United States do — you should never think of an anxiety ring as a replacement for in-person therapy or an excuse not to seek help when you really need it.
But Cheyenne Bryant, a psychologist and life coach, said that when you’re in the throes of anxiety or even a panic attack, an anxiety ring may be helpful for some people.
“Anxiety rings are created to help combat panic and anxiety attacks by distracting and refocusing your brain from racing and overwhelming thoughts,” she explained. “Signals are sent to the brain to refocus your thoughts on the pressure or beads on your finger instead of anxiety.”
Bryant noted that it’s best to use the spinners on a ring as a preventive measure when you first feel an attack coming on, while the beaded rings work well when “fight or flight” anxiety is present. “When experiencing anxiety, just apply pressure to the ring with your fingers” to refocus your thoughts, she said.
While Bryant and Parikh are in agreement that anxiety rings can be helpful for some individuals, Bryant said more research on the subject is needed overall before she would use them in a clinical setting. “Although they seem like a great coping mechanism, I’d have to better understand the effectiveness before recommending anxiety rings to my clients,” she said.
Where do you buy anxiety rings?
All that said, it doesn’t hurt to add a ring to your toolbox if it’s something you want to try (in addition to more science-backed methods like therapy). If you’re intrigued by the concept of anxiety rings, consider one of the options below.
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