When it comes to anxiety, people cope with it in different ways. Some will take to social media, blog about their experiences, and make sure others are listening. Some people have their therapy system to help combat anxiety, which can be done by a professional or self-taught. Some use medication, and it's okay to take medicine that helps reduce your risk of having an episode. But there's a new trend that's renovating how some handle anxiety, and that's through tattoos.
Some people get tattoos because they look interesting and make them stand out. Others may get a tattoo of something they like. There are some who think tattoos must have a deep meaning and will only get a tattoo when they find something sacred enough to put on their body.
The point is there's no wrong reason to get a tattoo, even if it’s for therapeutic reasons.
Some people get a tattoo for a lost loved one. You've probably seen people who will get tattoos for their deceased relatives or friends. They may have their birth and death date, a portrait of them, or maybe something a little more subtle. For example, if your friend liked a certain TV show, you may get a tattoo of a character from the show.
Going through a traumatic event can be tough. Getting a tattoo to symbolize the struggle can be a therapeutic way to know you've moved on from that trouble, and as a way for you to say, "This is now, that was then."
If someone has survived cancer or any other deadly disease or situation, tattoos make good reminders of what you've gone through. There have been women who have tattooed their chest after a mastectomy to remind them of surviving breast cancer. It's a way to tell yourself that you're a strong person, and what tries to kill you becomes a trophy on your body, never to harm you again.
People may receive a tattoo regarding a mental disorder. Having a tattoo that reminds you of the struggles you're going through on the inside can be quite relieving. For one, it shows the world what's going on inside, and the tattoo helps to invite people who may be experiencing the same mental condition. Some use symbols, like the puzzle piece for autism, while others may try to be subtle. Anxiety tattoos have become a good way to relieve some anxiety around issues and conditions you’re experiencing.
Do Anxiety Tattoos Work?
Those who aren't in the tattoo scene may be confused. For some, having a reminder that your friend died or you survived a traumatic experience on your body that you'll have to see every day seems like it would be quite triggering. Some may say you should move on and forget the past.
For those who have tattoo therapy, they don't see it that way. Tattoos are a way to close a part of your life. Think of your memories as an art gallery. You're proudly displaying your past in a way that respects it and tells you not to forget. It also brings forth a historical feeling of closure.
Those who get tattoos may find relief from the pain. As the tattoo is etched on them, they're thinking of what it symbolizes. They're struggling one more time, and it's a way for them to move on to the next stage.
What Does the Science Say?
There are plenty of treatments and therapies that people swear by. However, many end up being placebos at best and dangerous at worst. So, does tattoo therapy fall into either of these categories? Is it scientifically backed?
Plenty of psychologists are seeing the benefits of tattoo therapy. It certainly is not a one-size-fits-all way of coping. There will be people who will benefit more from doing something else, but it's becoming more acceptable as a form of grieving.
Tattoos For Anxiety
When it comes to anxiety, what kinds of tattoos do most people like to get? If you look up anxiety tattoos online, you'll see tattoos that are encouraging and may have messages. These tattoos symbolize that people who have anxiety tattoos are content people who just have their moments. Some find therapy in looking at their tattoos and reminding themselves that everything will be alright.
Below are a few examples of anxiety tattoos.
Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that improves one’s mood. Of course, the brain is a little more complex than that. But, the spirit of the idea makes people tattoo an image of the molecule on themselves. It's a little reminder that your moods are just chemicals in the brain, and it’s a way to encourage happiness.
Another tattoo that's good for anxiety is a little message or phrase that tells you that everything is going to be alright. Some may be phrases like "this too shall pass" or "it's going to be okay" to remind themselves that their episode is just temporary. When the storm ends, everything is going to be okay.
Some also see a message inked on the body to be more powerful than saying the same message aloud or reading it.
Others may want a tattoo that brings forth a feeling of tranquility, like a waterfall, a beautiful butterfly, or anything else that's soothing or cute. Looking at your body and reminding yourself that you're going to be just fine is a good way to make yourself feel better.
A Hidden Message
There are some who put words on their body, but they mean something else when viewed from a different angle. For example, you can get a tattoo that says, "I'm fine," when viewed by someone else, but from your angle, it's upside down, and the letters read "save me." It's a way to symbolize that just because someone looks okay, they may not be. Some have battles on the inside that they must conquer, and they want other people to realize that.
Think of something that makes you happy and makes you remember better times. It can be a TV show, a place, or anything that has ever made you feel bliss. Getting a tattoo of that and travelling back in time whenever you feel an episode coming can be soothing. It won't be a substitute for going there, but the memories can help relieve the pain you're feeling.
Anything You Want
If you're thinking about getting a tattoo for yourself, it can be whatever you feel like. If you want to get a tattoo you found online, there's no shame in that. If you want to make something new and important to yourself, that's good too. Tattoos are flexible like that, and there isn't one anxiety tattoo that works for everyone. Some like subtlety, others like the message spelled out.
Are Tattoos Right for Me?
If you've never gotten a tattoo in general and are thinking about it, why not do some research? Figure out the cost of a tattoo in your area, talk to some people who have tattoos, and visit a tattoo artist. If you're scared of the pain, look up some pain charts. There are some areas of your body where it will hurt a lot less.
If you don't like the idea of a tattoo being permanent, you can always investigate temporary tattoos as well. Tattoos like henna are good for experimenting and to see if tattoos are right for you.
One Of Many Tools
Tattoo therapy can be a powerful tool in fighting anxiety, but for many, tattoos are one of several tools. These can include the tools mentioned in the introduction as well as lifestyle changes. A combination of self-help, professional therapy with either an in-person or online counselor, and medication are great tools in managing anxiety.
If you’re considering online therapy, BetterHelp has qualified, licensed therapists and counselors. They can teach you techniques in how to deal with anxiety and provide emotional support and understanding. You can meet with them at a time that’s convenient for you and from the comfort of your own home. Below are a couple reviews from people experiencing similar issues.
"Norma is attentive, thoughtful, and clearly cares about helping you. I was dealing with a lot of self-doubt and deep anxiety over bad life events and she helped me get back on my feet. She had deep insights into my experiences and helped me see them in new and helpful ways. I feel so much better now because of that."
"Kelly has been amazing. From our first few interactions, she put me at ease, told me exactly what to expect, and started building a rapport. She is easy to talk to and has helped my anxiety significantly decrease in just a few short weeks."
Tattoo therapy is growing in popularity because it has proven its effectiveness. There are many other effective tools to help you move forward to a fulfilling life, free from anxiety holding you back-take the first step today.
Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:
What tattoo is for anxiety?
According to the World Health Organization, conditions such as depression and anxiety have increased in recent years. These conditions impact people all over the world. Although there's not a definite cure for anxiety disorders, they are treatable. There are a ton of amazing tattoos that a person may get for anxiety and other mental health struggles. Although many times, an anxiety tattoo is something that has a unique meaning to the specific person, there are common anxiety tattoos and mental health tattoos that people get. Common mental health tattoos or tattoo ideas people get include but aren't limited to semicolon tattoos, tattoos of a brain, or symbols of strength, perseverance, and resilience. For anxiety, someone may get a tattoo to remind them to stay grounded or to stay focused. This could be because it's common for those with anxiety to face challenges related to concentration, focus, or feeling grounded. Someone may also get a tattoo to remind themselves to use self care or to symbolize self care.
What is the tattoo for mental illness?
One common tattoo design for mental illness is the semicolon tattoo. Many people have semicolon tattoos and understand what the symbolism behind the tattoo design is. These are seen often not just in the United States, but also in other parts of the world. You may even have a person in your life who has this tattoo, such as a best friend. However, there are many different tattoo ideas a person can use if they want a tattoo design to symbolize mental health concerns.
What color symbolizes anxiety?
Different people may associate different colors with anxious thoughts, anxious feelings, or how they feel when anxiety hits. Sometimes, anxiety hits out of nowhere, whereas other times, there is a buildup of anxious thoughts when anxiety strikes. It is suggested that those who live with depression or anxiety are likely to describe their mood using the color grey. If a person wants to incorporate a specific color into a tattoo design or idea, they very likely can. One may also get a tattoo with a calming color as a reminder to take a moment to ground themselves, or as a reminder that it is possible to feel calm - something that can be tough when feelings of anxiety are high. Anxiety can impact a person's daily life in serious ways. If you experience feelings of anxiety or struggle with other concerns on a daily basis, help is available. Therapy can improve your quality of life and help you find the coping skills you need for life with an anxiety disorder or another concern.
What symbolizes overcoming struggle?
Someone who wants a reminder of what they have overcome may get a tattoo to symbolize it. There are plants, animals, and various other pieces of symbolism that can be incorporated into a tattoo as a reminder of a person's strength. Common symbolism that might serve as a reminder of overcoming struggle in a tattoo may include a lotus flower, an eagle, or a lion. That said, your tattoo idea can be as unique as you want it to be.
What does the tattoo with 3 dots mean?
Three dots in a row are called ellipses. This is a mental health awareness tattoo that some people get, but it may have other meanings to an individual as well. It can symbolize a pause in a sentence, serving as a gentle reminder to take a breath when anxiety strikes. Some people opt for small tattoos, whereas others opt for big tattoo ideas. An ellipses tattoo is an excellent tattoo idea for a meaningful, yet small, tattoo. The semicolon tattoo, which is meant to raise awareness for suicide prevention, is another mental health tattoo that can be small, yet meaningful. For many, the semicolon tattoo acts as a gentle reminder to keep going; similar to how a semi colon allows a thought to continue when writing. It's common to have a semicolon tattoo design on your wrist, but some people opt for another placement when they get a semicolon tattoo. If people opt to get semicolon tattoos, or other small tattoos, covered, it's often doable. Even larger tattoos can be covered up or changed in many instances. Talk with your tattoo artist if you need a tattoo cover-up to discuss a tattoo design that will work.
If you or someone you know experiences thoughts of suicide, please contact the national suicide prevention lifeline (now known as the suicide & crisis lifeline) at 1-800-273-8255 or 988.
Do tattoos improve mental health?
Though they certainly don't treat or cure mental health conditions like depression and anxiety disorders, tattoos can be meaningful to a person. Mental health themed tattoo ideas can make for meaningful tattoos. Some people get a tattoo to act as a constant reminder of something that's beneficial for their mental health, for example, or they may get a tattoo for the purpose of mental health awareness. Additionally, if you want a tattoo, it's likely something that you're doing for yourself; this can be a powerful act of self love and a way to stay true to who you are. One study of 2,395 students from public universities even found that those with four or more tattoos had higher self-esteem. Of course, it's also common to get excited over a new tattoo. Some people prefer to get meaningful tattoos, whereas other people enjoy picking tattoos based on the art they enjoy. Both are valid. It's increasingly common that tattoo artists draw flash sheets for mental health awareness and other causes. A flash sheet is a sheet of tattoo ideas that an artist draws in advance and allows clients to book rather than drawing a specific tattoo up for a client. Sometimes, mental health tattoos, including anxiety tattoos, are very apparent in what they symbolize, whereas others may be more subtle. If you're going for your first tattoo soon, or any new tattoo, for that matter, don't hesitate to ask your tattoo artist questions. Questions can relate to your tattoo ideas or tattoo design and placement, aftercare, what you should do before your appointment, and other relevant pieces of information.
A tattoo can't replace mental health treatment. When you notice yourself feeling anxious on a regular basis, it may be a sign that it is time to reach out about what you're going through. If you need a safe space to discuss your feelings or need support for a mental health condition, make sure to talk with a mental health professional who can help.
What symbolizes social anxiety?
A person may get a number of different tattoos to symbolize anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder, and various other mental health issues. One of the most common mental health tattoos or mental health awareness tattoos is the semicolon tattoo. However, if you're looking for unique anxiety tattoo ideas, you have a lot of options. Often, anxiety tattoos are tattoos that symbolize strength, courage, or calmness. For example, a plant, animal, or object that reminds the unique person of these things. Other common anxiety tattoos or mental health awareness tattoos include quotes, sayings, or words that remind someone to stay grounded in their day to day life. Even just a tattoo with two words could help a particular person or act as a reminder for them. For example, perhaps a tattoo reminds a person to take a deep breath, or that, when anxiety strikes during an anxiety attack, when panic strikes during a panic attack, or when a person experiences other symptoms of anxiety, the moment will pass. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks differ in that there's a buildup to anxiety attacks, whereas panic attacks often seem to come out of nowhere, with barely a moment's notice.
Specific anxiety tattoo ideas for social anxiety disorder or social phobia might include a silhouette of two people or tattoos of faces, eyes, and mouths. Other anxiety tattoo ideas for social anxiety disorder or social phobia could include a reminder that it'll be okay. Tattoo ideas for this purpose could include two hands reaching out to each other to symbolize support from others, a sun to symbolize light, or another relevant piece. Alternatively, tattoo ideas might reflect what anxiety feels like or the feelings that come with living with an anxiety disorder, whether that relates to physical symptoms or other symptoms, such as excessive worry, anxious thoughts, or trouble focusing. Physical symptoms people with anxiety disorders may experience include but aren't limited to GI distress, body aches, headaches, and trouble sleeping. As one example, some people get a tattoo that looks like a scribble to symbolize what anxious thoughts feel like. A tattoo of the earth could act as a reminder for someone who wants to remember that they are small in the grand scheme of the big world, which can be comforting for a person with feelings of anxiety and can be a gentle reminder that you're a part of something bigger than yourself. What matters is that you're happy with your tattoo design and what your tattoo represents.
If you live with an anxiety disorder or another mental health concern, remember that you aren't alone. Online therapy through BetterHelp can help people with a range of concerns, including depression and anxiety. Whether you get support in person or online, you deserve to find a safe space to discuss your feelings and get the help that you need.