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What does anxiety feel like to you? For some, anxiety may manifest physically, causing stomach aches, muscle tension, and fatigue. For others, it may cause psychological strain in the form of mental stress or racing thoughts. However anxiety occurs for you, it may be helpful to have an anxiety toolbox full of items that can ease symptoms. Read on to learn more about different anxiety calming items and the research behind them.
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that often have a strong aroma and are often used to create a relaxing atmosphere. They can be applied directly onto skin or mixed with a lotion. Essential oils can also be diffused via an oil diffuser to fill a room with its scent. In a study done on patients in an intensive care unit, it was found that the essential oils lavender, chamomile, and neroli decreased patient’s anxiety levels and increased their quality of sleep. Fill your anxiety toolkit with a bottle or two of a calming essential oil and try them out the next time you feel anxious.
Weighted Blankets are blankets filled with weights that are evenly distributed throughout its fabric. Weighted blankets for adults are typically between 10-30 pounds and can be purchased online. In a study that explored the effects of a 30 pound weighted blanket on 32 adults, 63% reported lower anxiety levels and 78% preferred the blanket as a calming modality. If a weighted blanket is out of your budget, you can make your own weighted object by filling a stuffed animal with rocks or small weights. Try holding the weighted object or draping it over your shoulders when you need to feel more calm and grounded.
Blowing bubbles has also shown anxiety calming effects. Blowing bubbles encourages deep, controlled breathing, which in turn helps to ameliorate stress and tension. Blowing bubbles also requires you to focus on one singular task, which can help when feeling overwhelmed. For some, blowing bubbles helps to calm anxiety as they imagine their thoughts floating away with the bubbles they blow. A container of bubbles is both portable and affordable, so pick up a bottle at your nearest dollar or discount store and add it to your anxiety reducing toolkit.
Research shows that playing with clay or playdough can have calming effects on stress and anxiety. Many art therapists and occupational therapists use clay for people of all ages to help calm their minds and bodies. Playing with clay can help you process emotion and often can be very cathartic. If clay is not your thing, try rubbing a soft piece of fabric or playing with a rubber band. Everyone’s anxiety is different, and may benefit from different forms of tactile stimulation.