Anxiety rings—we asked experts if they're really effective

Anxiety rings are popular purchase for those looking to curb their anxiety—but are they all they're cracked up to be?

Anxiety written on tiles
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Anxiety rings are proving themselves to be a popular purchase for those looking to curb their anxiety and help manage its symptoms. There's a lot of hype around them but the question is—are anxiety rings really effective?

Woman&home reached out to experts to find out what the deal is with these increasingly popular pieces of jewelry, if they're effective in the long run or are they worth even trying at all.

What are anxiety rings?

Known also as "spinning rings" or "worry rings," anxiety rings have moveable balls on one of the bands enabling you to fidget with them during moments when you're feeling anxious or stressed. The belief behind these rings is that they can induce a sense of calm, anxiety rings are growing in popularity.

Psychologist, mental health, and wellness expert Dr Audrey Tang is an award-winning author of books on mindfulness and resilience. She tells woman&home that despite this new fad taking off—the idea isn't that new.

"In terms of what they are, this is not a new concept, simply it now has adult packaging," she explains. "'Fiddle toys' have long been used in schools to enable young children to have something to play with, which is not going to get them into trouble when they have been told to sit still."

"As such, the benefits are certainly there, in the same way as a stress ball may have worked, or a 'grounding object,'" she explains. "That allows ourselves an expression of our emotions—in this case, a physical outlet of“fidgeting can help alleviate their intensity."

In principle, Dr Tang explains, an anxiety ring would seem to blend both the release and the grounding element of stress relief, which others can find helpful to bring a little headspace and sense of emotional regulation.

But, are these rings all they're cracked up to be in the long run?

Do anxiety rings work?

Psychologist and clinical director at Private Therapy Clinic, Dr Becky Spelman tells woman&home that she doesn't believe that anxiety rings or fidget rings should be relied upon by people with anxiety.  

For example, for people with a long-term disorder such as ADHD, where sitting still can be very difficult. An anxiety ring may make an excellent distraction tool. Dr Spelman says this is different as, "in these cases, we’re looking more at coping strategies rather than a cure."

In other words, for those looking to treat ongoing anxiety, relying on anxiety rings becomes a safety-seeking behavior.

"This means that anxious people can develop a reliance on them to deliver short term relief," she says. "But it doesn’t help them to overcome their difficulties in the long run."

"Using an anxiety ring alone does not tackle the root cause", agrees Dr Tang. She asserts that fidget rings, anxiety rings, or any short-term relief is no substitute for doing the mental and emotional development work to alleviate the cause of the anxiety in the first instance. 

Dr Spelman adds that, "Anxiety can be overcome by sitting with and allowing the feeling of anxiety to be experienced," she says. "Rather than going to any crutch-like behavior which will only serve to alleviate the anxiety in the short term."

If you think that you or someone close to you is suffering from an anxiety disorder, reach out to a medical professional for advice and support.

US readers can check out the National Alliance for Mental Illness website for more information and UK readers can check out Mind.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly woman&home's junior news editor and a contributing writer at Bustle, her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica and EVOKE.

Her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.