There is no substitute for a comprehensive anxiety treatment. Anxiety is not the type of condition that you can simply wish away, and ideally you need to make sure that you're learning new and healthier coping strategies that will cure your anxiety once and for all.
But it's also helpful to have some type of tool that you can take with you that will help you calm down during times of intense anxiety. One such tool is a spinner ring, also known as a meditation ring or worry ring. This article explores the value of a spinner ring along with information on how best to use it.
How Severe is Your Anxiety?
Spinner rings can assist with mild anxiety, but with severe anxiety it is not likely to be as benefiical. If you haven't yet, take our free 7 minute anxiety test to score your anxiety severity and find strategies you can use to control it.
What is a Spinner Ring?
A spinner ring is a ring that you wear on your finger, usually silver, that has an inner band locked in place that can be spun while the rest of the ring stays in one place on your finger. The spinner ring is believed to come from ancient Tibetan meditation traditions, and is called a "worry ring" because spinning the right is believed to have a calming effect on the mind and body.
While some spinner ring supporters argue that the ring itself is an anxiety cure, a spinner ring alone is unlikely to reduce your anxiety. But there are genuine ways to use a spinner ring that can actually be extremely valuable. Before learning these ways, make sure you've taken my free 7 minute anxiety test.
How to Use a Spinner Ring
Most people with anxiety are aware of the need to fidget when they're feeling anxious. Some people bite or pick their nails. Some people put their hands in their pockets. Others fiddle with their necklaces or even their rings.
Spinner rings are designed to be fiddled with. They're a healthy, less obvious way to move your hands when you feel that you need to be fidgeting. You simply spin the center ring with your fingers and take deep breaths to experience a calm, more meditative state.
Do Spinner Rings Work?
It's unlikely there is any magical power in the spinner ring. It's far more likely that the spinner ring is simply a ring, and that fidgeting with it is calming because fidgeting in general has a somewhat calming effect. Similarly, people with anxiety have a tendency to fight it and ignore it. Spinning a ring dedicated to anxiety is a way of bringing yourself into the present and acknowledging that you have anxiety, which can actually be calming in its own way.
The spinner ring itself, however, is unlikely to have any mystical anxiety reduction power. But there actually are ways to make the ring more valuable: by associating it with a relaxing event, thought, or action.
How to Maximize the Value of Spinner Rings
Even though human beings are extremely intelligent creatures, they're still prone to behavioral training and associations. Think of a dog - when a dog hears a treat bag opening, it knows that it may be getting a treat, so it gets excited and salivates. It associates the sound of the bag opening with the treat, and experiences a specific emotion as a result.
Humans do the same thing, albeit in less obvious ways. For example, you got in a fight with your partner in bed one day, then the next time you go to bed - even if the fight is over and you feel much better - you're more likely to experience anxiety and anger, simply because you're in the same place the fight happened.
These types of behavioral connections (known as "conditioning") can actually be created on purpose, and that's where you can maximize the value of the spinner ring.
Finding the Association
It starts by figuring out what you want to associate with the ring. Some people prefer a happy thought, like an amazing vacation they had or the calming nature of the beach. Others prefer affirmations, where they tell themselves things like "I'm a great person" and "my anxiety doesn't control me" because saying these things to yourself can actually be very powerful.
Others prefer to think of a person that makes them happy or anxiety free, like a lover or a child, or the whole family. Still others prefer to associate it with something they need to remember - for example, you may want to remind yourself to slow down your breathing during an anxiety attack to reduce your anxiety symptoms.
Figure out what associations you want to make. Whatever you choose, it needs to be something that will help you be more anxiety free.
Find a Relaxing Environment
Find a place that you find calm and relaxing, like a quiet local park or a comfortable room that you enjoy. Make sure that it's as relaxing as possible, and go there wearing your spinning ring.
It would actually help a little if you were experiencing a little bit of anxiety when you go to your relaxing environment, although it's not necessary. You can also choose to remember/imagine what it's like to be in your most anxious states. Try to picture how you feel and how you act when you have anxiety or an anxiety attack.
Once you've imagined this, start spinning your ring and thinking about or repeating to yourself whatever it is you wanted to associate with the spinning. If it's an affirmation, then keep saying the affirmation to yourself. If it's a behavior, like slowing down your breathing, then start breathing the way you plan to breathe.
Whatever you plan on associating with your ring, picture it or do it continuously. All the while, try to start relaxing. Take deep breaths, relax your muscles and your body, and use any relaxation strategies you've learned. Once you feel that you're completely relaxed, you can stop spinning the ring.
Use It When Anxious
Finally, any time you're feeling anxious, spin the ring. It's perfectly okay to fidget with it any time of the day when you feel like you need to move your hands, since fidgeting does have a naturally calming effect. You can use the ring at any time - not just when you need it for extreme anxiety.
But when you're feeling like you're about to have an anxiety attack, remember to spin the ring or do and think about whatever it was you decided to associate with it. Try not to stop spinning the ring until you've successfully calmed yourself down. As best you can, always try to turn to this tool any time you're suffering from intense anxiety.
Over time, if this works for you, this association should grow stronger, and eventually simply by spinning the ring you'll be able to be in a calmer state.
Combine Spinner Rings With Anxiety Treatments
Tibetan spinner rings are not an anxiety cure, but they're still an interesting and valuable idea. Having something to sit and play with when you're feeling anxious is very useful, and if you can also associate it with something that calms you, it can have extra benefits.
But you'll still want to control it with other anxiety reduction strategies based on the severity of your anxiety.
Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to learn more. You'll find more comprehensive treatments and learn more about your own anxiety.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.