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Could acupressure rings really be the cure to my anxiety?

ILLUSTRATION BY TWYLAMAE
WORDS BY HANNAH COLE

There’s only one way to find out. 

At any given moment, you will likely find me stroking and pulling at my long hair. No matter where I am, my hands will find their way to this slightly odd but mostly nervous place of comfort. It could be solely attributed to an anxious mind or maybe it’s something more sinister. An undiagnosed case of trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), perhaps?

But what it does indicate is that somewhere inside me my subconscious is a little ball of anxiety, propelling towards my scalp in a desperate bid for me to notice it. 

Hand-in-hand with talking to a professional, I’ll try virtually anything with some semblance of a solution. Give me a somewhat believable cure and I’ll take a whack at it.

I first came across the idea of acupressure rings via The Cut. Admittedly, my interest was initially about aesthetics. Could a visually-pleasing, spiral-like ring reminiscent of Reliquia’s iconic hoops really cure my mental state? 

The science behind these spiky rings stems from traditional Chinese medicine. As we grow increasingly wary of Big Pharma and unnatural ingredients, these traditional methods are creeping back into the spotlight.

Acupressure takes a holistic view of the body – similar to acupuncture – and is rooted in the concept of ‘meridians’, the energy pathways within the body. The use of various tools to apply pressure at specific points is believed to open these meridians and allow the energy to flow as it naturally should, where it has been blocked by stress or the like. 

Acupressure rings offer the ultimate, easy-to-use option available on the cheap and without needles.  

There is an incredible amount to learn about these interwoven paths. In basic terms, each finger and area of the hand can impact a different area. The thumb can aid the lungs, the index finger is related to the large intestine, and so on. Everything is connected.

Although studies in the area are scarce, acupressure has been linked to benefits such as reducing stress, aiding pain management, and improving mental focus and circulation. Alongside this, with or without the ring, hand reflexology is proven to aid anxiety. A hand massage can help reduce symptoms and alleviate headaches (which also explains the pure pleasure I found in abhyanga).

Using the acupressure ring is way less daunting than it looks.

Learn from my mistake and do not rest the rings on your fingertips for minutes on end. This method will inevitably lead to cutting off your circulation, thereby undoing all your intended good work.

Instead, the acupressure ring is designed to roll up and down each finger numerous times to stimulate the required touchpoints. Start with the thumb and roll your way onto the other fingers, then switch hands. Spend five to 10 minutes going through the process and add a little palm rub at the end. Simple. 

Let’s get real though: Has the acupressure ring helped me? Is my hair-fidgeting a thing of the past? Am I now an anxiety-free and blissful being? 

TBC.

But I can tell you this. After two weeks of experimenting, I’ve developed a strong affinity to my rings. I keep one in my wallet – at the ready for any unpleasant morning train trips. I leave one next to my computer at work, which I frequently grab when any anxious thoughts or rapid breathing arises. I won’t go anywhere without one now. 

A non-stop week at work and an overload of emails would typically have me a breaking point by Friday evening. But this time, I made it through pretty much unscathed. Once I would have been in a tailspin, now I’m just a prolific fidgeter.

My hair pulling is still an issue, but a 12-year habit is unlikely to fade within weeks. Now, when I get the urge to return to that familiar place, I try to stimulate my fingers in another way. I’ll grab my ring and reap those whole-body benefits until I’m ready to settle back into the day-to-day. 

Will I ever be the carefree human that I so dream of becoming? The older I get, I realise that maybe this is just the way I am. With practical steps in place and a trusty ring by my side, I will get about as close as I can, though. 

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