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Mental Health Myths: Do Products Targeted for Mental Health Actually Work? Looking at: Weighted Blankets, Burning Sage, Essential Oils, Crystals, Sensory Toys and Calming Inhalers

Posted by Erin Fischer on

The wellness industry is a booming trade, and it seems a given that there are products out there for people who want to improve anything especially their mental health. It can be easy to fall into the trap of buying the latest product to help with your mental health but whether they will work and are backed up my scientific evidence is another matter. Continuing from last Monday’s post, I will be looking into products that are often suggested to help those with mental health issues.

These products were products I had either heard about from friends and family, had advertised to me by Facebooks algorithms or had personally tried (with mixed benefits/results).

Weighted Blanket – these popped up a few years ago with people swearing by them for everything from autism to anxiety to insomnia. The idea behind the weighted blanket is that it stimulates a comforting hug helping calm and settle the nervous system like deep pressure therapy. However, studies are inconclusive as to whether it works despite many people swearing by them (it’s extremely hard to do blind trials as well which doesn’t help the case). If you’re struggling with sleep, a weighted blanket won’t provide an automatic fix however it may help. There’s no harm in trying one if you think it may help you, just make sure that whatever one you buy it is around 5-10% of your body weight.

Burning Sage – the act of burning or smudging sage has been around for years and has ties to the treatment of anxiety and depression in traditional Mexican medicineSage contains flavonoids (compounds found in plants that have medicinal properties) and like lavender helps with digestive troubles and soothing upset stomachs which can be a side effect of anxiety. In animal studies using sage oil it appeared to decrease anxiety and depression, so it is unclear if it works in humans and if burning sage helps. It’s also important to remember that burning sage can have an impact on those who suffer from asthma and other lung problems so if you choose to do it only do it for a short period of time.

Essential oils – there’s a lot of essential oils out there on the market that claim to bring calming effects and help people with mental health issues. Many essential oils such as lavender, jasmine and rosemary have long been used for their calming impacts and reducing stress, but if they will work and how well they work really varies on the person. There is no major scientific evidence that they help but some studies have shown that they can have an impact especially if used in a massage rather than inhaling and on a regular basis (at least twice a week). The memory of scent can also have an impact such as if you use lavender while you are in a relaxed environment (for example during an aromatherapy massage) and then smell it when you are feeling stressed it will trigger those relaxed feelings which can have a positive impact on your mental health.

Crystals – crystals have been gaining in popularity over the years with many celebrities claiming their benefits. This is nothing new as people have been using crystals for thousands of years with many ancient civilisations using them to protect them from evil and spirits. However, there is no scientific evidence that they are effective in treating mental illness instead it is a placebo effect. The act of doing something you’re in control of can boost hope, brighten your mood, and improve your mental health.

Sensory toys – fidget spinners, fidget cubes and the latest trend dimple poppers all fall under this category. While it seems like a relatively new concept people fidgeting to calm themselves has been around for years from pen clicking to absentmindedly spinning around your wedding ring (or other jewellery), these products just make it more mainstream. There’s no concrete evidence that these products or fidgeting helps with mental health but for some people these products may help provide a distraction and calm down their thoughts allowing them to fully concentrate on the tasks they need to complete.

Calming inhalers – this is a relatively new product that combines deep breathing with aromatics such the scent of lavender. The concept behind this is that when we’re stressed our heartrate increases along with our breathing and it provides a visual aid and scent memory to help calm you down. Deep breathing for stress and anxiety is nothing new nor is aromatherapy but this is a product that combines the two. The more you use it the more triggering the scent will be and your memory will soon associate the scents with being calm and therefore aiding you in not feeling so stressed or anxious. If you have mild anxiety or stress this product will likely help you. However, know that just doing breathing exercises can be just as effective and this product won’t take away all your anxiety and stress.

While the above may not have much scientific backing there’s honestly no harm in trying these products and if they help you with your mental health on a day-to-day basis then that’s great. Though it really depends on how your mental health is impacted. Maybe you struggle with sleep? Or you feel restless when you sit still? Or maybe you just need a reminder to breathe and slow down? So obviously these products won’t help everyone but there’s no harm in trying them, but they won’t be a substitute for professional help.

Feel free to drop by, just say, Hey Erin in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time.

Resources:

Weighted blankets do they work? Anxiety and stress weighing heavily at night? A new blanket might help. Do weighted blankets work?

Are there health benefits from burning sage? 11 benefits of burning sage, how to smudge and more.

Essentials oils for depression: Oils that may help and how they work. The effectiveness of aromatherapy for depressive symptoms: A systematic review. Aromatherapy in the management of psychiatric disorders: clinical and neuropharmacological perspectives. 

Crystals for anxiety and depression: Do they work? Can crystals heal? Separating facets from facts.

Understanding fidget widgets: proceedings of the 9 Nordic conference on human-computer interaction. Here's the science behind the fidget spinner craze. Fidget toys aren't just hype.

The science behind Calmigo 


 

About Erin Fischer

Am the qualified mental health professional at Barty Single Origin. Write topical pieces with a focus on mental health. Always available on chat, Just say, 'Hey Erin'. Passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and letting people know it's A-OK to be not OK. Mental health advocate, Anxiety survivor, baker, crafter, cat lover, blogger, and always down to get a coffee and chat.


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