Would A Smooth Stone Help Me Cope With Worry?

Medically reviewed by April Justice
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Worry stones, also known as thumb stones, have become popular around the world in recent years. They’re sold online, in new age shops, at thrift stores, and local gift shops. Many of them are beautiful, whether they’re created naturally, cut from semi-precious gems, or molded with human-made materials. However, beyond their visual appeal, their ability to help calm and relax you may be the best reason to choose one. The question is whether a worry stone will have the desired effect.

What is a worry stone?

Worry stones are a type of smooth stone that has been used in folk practices throughout history in different parts of the world. The ancient Greeks pulled them from the sea and used them for relaxation and calming themselves. Indigenous peoples held them and passed them on from generation to generation. They were also used long ago in Tibet and Ireland, as well as in nearly every culture around the world. Their popularity only seems to increase as time goes by.

What does a worry stone look like?

A worry stone is a stone with a thumb sized indentation, generally in the shape of an oval. Typically, the stone itself is just a little bigger than that indentation to better endure years of rubbing and manipulation. A worry stone needs to be smooth for easy rubbing. They come in many colors, some solid and some variegated. Larger worry stones are called palm stones and can be as large as, well, the palm of your hand.

How are worry stones made?

Worry stones can be made in several different ways. The traditional way to get a worry stone is simply to take if from a body of running water. A traditional, natural worry stone is sculpted by water running over it over the course of time. An Irish worry stone, for example, is usually made from Connemara marble. However, not all worry stones are made of rock; some are made from bone, metal, wood, ceramic, glass, or another natural object. They can be cut from nearly all kinds of smooth rocks or polished gemstones.

Why do people use worry stones?

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Thinking about investing in a worry stone?

People use worry stones because of their reputation as a beneficial natural treatment for anxiety, stress, and tension. Some people use them because they’ve received them as a gift. Others discover the worry stone while vacationing near a body of water, or find them at a novelty shop or tourist bazaar. These stones are easy to have, easy to carry, and easy to use. Many people find them helpful as they have an incredible reputation for calming and anxiety relief.

What’s the benefit of a worry stone?

A worry stone has several easy to understand advantages. The smoothness of its surface creates a pleasant sensation on the skin of the thumb during rubbing, and at the very least provides some sensory stimulation that can help to calm us through distracting us from whatever we’re feeling or experiencing.

The stone is easy to use in any situation. You simply carry it with you in your pocket, purse, or wallet and rub it whenever you like. You don’t have to learn any complex techniques to use it – just rub it between your thumb and forefingers. Worry stones have been used in many situations in a variety of ways, as well. Below are a few examples.

Reflexology

Reflexology is a type of massage that is used to relieve tension through stimulating the reflex points in the feet, hands, and head. These reflex points are linked to different points throughout your entire body. In reflexology, the worry stone is used to impact the reflex points in the thumb and fingers. You can receive reflexology treatments from a chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, or a palliative care specialist. However, anyone can use a worry stone without assistance from a professional. Although reflexology is considered an alternative treatment to conventional medical treatments, some believe it affects signaling in the nervous system and releases endorphins.

Anxiety

If you have a worry stone, the amount that you use it may be related to how much anxiety you’re feeling.

In one research study aimed at finding out about engagement with therapy, worry stones were used during therapy to gauge the participants' levels of anxiety as a part of the therapeutic sessions

This technique can be used in any therapy session. You can also use this technique yourself. Just take notice of how much you’re using your worry stone to get an idea of how much and how often you’re feeling anxious.

Tension

Muscle tension can come from physical or psychological stress. Rubbing a worry stone can help relieve tension in your hands by working the muscles involved. Also, through its calming action, a worry stone can help relieve muscle tension in other parts of your body if it’s caused by psychological stress.

Stress

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Stress is an almost constant companion of modern people everywhere. Life is hectic, schedules must be kept, and relationships can be complex and difficult to manage. A worry stone can benefit you if you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress on a regular basis. It doesn’t take you away from the tasks you need to complete; instead, you can use your worry stone and continue to work toward your goals and complete day-to-day tasks.

Distraction

Worry can darken any day if you let it take over your mind. Until you learn to channel your thinking away from your worried thoughts, you’ll likely have trouble coping with the ups, downs, and concerns in your life. Of course, it’s important to do what you can to resolve problems. Sometimes, though, there’s just nothing you can do to improve your situation at the moment. At times like those, rubbing a worry stone can help you focus on the here and now and let your worries fade until you are able to properly address them.

Disruption of destructive coping methods

Sometimes difficulties with coping manifests as nail biting, hair pulling, skin picking, and other compulsive behaviors. You can use a worry stone to substitute for any of these destructive habits.

Substance use or smoking cessation

Substance overuse and nicotine addiction can be difficult to overcome. You can do it, but you need as much help as you can get. Putting a worry stone in your pocket is a good way to prepare yourself to get through cravings with a better sense of calm. You’re less likely to use when you can feel relaxed without the substance.

Therapeutic aid

During complex therapy situations, therapists often offer worry stones to their patients to use during the session. Because the situation may be unfamiliar and difficult to manage, the easy and familiar feeling of rubbing a worry stone is often a welcome relief. Complex therapy can include sessions for PTSD, especially in children, or sessions for refugees who have recently had to leave a distressing situation in their home or assigned country.

Benefits of worry stones made of semi-precious gemstones

Many people who use worry stones choose those made of semi-precious gems. In Native American culture, a quartz worry stone is considered extremely soothing.

Certain stones have been suggested to have specific influences:

  • Rose quartz – for physical and emotional healing and to dispel anger
  • Clear quartz – to dispel negative energy
  • Moonstone – to promote peaceful sleep and connect with nature
  • Jasper – to increase courage
  • Black onyx – to develop strength, heal grief, and bring happiness
  • Black agate – to reduce anger or nervous jitters
  • Moss agate – to relieve stress
  • White selenite – for mental clarity
Getty/AnnaStills
Thinking about investing in a worry stone?

Learn self-soothing strategies in online therapy

Therapy can also help you cope with your anxiety by learning stress-reducing techniques. With cognitive behavioral therapy, you can learn to identify and evaluate your thoughts to decide if it’s helpful to continue giving those thoughts such importance. If not, your counselor can help you change the way you think, replacing old, destructive thoughts with new, healthy thoughts.

Online cognitive behavior therapy has been found to be just as effective as face-to-face therapy, and in fact, can be more effective due to removing many of the barriers that are in place with in-person therapy. These include scheduling difficulties, difficulty in getting to appointments, cost-effectiveness, seclusion, and stigma associated with therapy. One review of over 300 studies conducted on internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) found it to be quite effective in treating mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, social disorders, mood disorders, PTSD, and more.

You can talk to a licensed counselor at BetterHelp for help with anxiety, stressful situations, relationships, or other mental health issues you’d like to discuss. You may BetterHelp’s network of licensed counselors from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you have an internet connection). Additionally, sessions are fully customizable and can be conducted via phone call, video chat, instant messaging/texting, or live voice recording. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“Diane has been a huge help for me in overcoming my anxiety and depression. She is understanding and offers a variety of ways to improve my perceptions, and how to work through my problems in real life. I can’t recommend her enough!”

Nicole has been so helpful through her compassionate listening, expertise and coping techniques. She helped me out of a very rough patch and continues to support me in my process. She is very kind and attentionate, and made me believe/understand that things will indeed get better. I owe a lot to her, and would recommend her in a heartbeat to anyone seeking a bit of light in their darker days. I am very grateful for her.”

Takeaway

A worry stone can be a helpful tool. Worry stones are proven to have helped relieve stress in many people. However, worry stones are not the only option out there and therapy is one of those other options. With the right tools, you can overcome worries that are holding you down. You can move forward to a fulfilling life free from constant worry. Take the first step today.

Take control of worry and anxiety with support

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