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Rub away anxiety with a ‘worry stone’ – the newest crystal wellness trend

TextLaura Pitcher

Formed naturally, hand-made, or carved with mantras – the ancient habit of moving stones between your fingers to reduce stress levels is being rediscovered again

It’s 2020 and our obsession with achieving “wellness” is no doubt here to stay. It’s no longer enough to have good skin and work out, your chakras need to be aligned and you must be radiating good energy. At the centre of luxury wellness, one could argue, are crystals. Once labelled “hippy dippy”, they’re now in our facials, taking shape as expensive jade rollers, part of Gwyneth Paltrow’s In Goop Health summit, and even in our water bottles. Cue the worry stone, a small stone (usually coin-sized) with an indentation that you can rub your thumb on to relieve anxiety or stress. It’s no surprise that our current fidget item obsession includes crystals. After all, Bella Hadid has a collection.

 Nicknamed pocket tranquilisers, worry stones can be made from a variety of types, river rocks to semi-precious gemstones. Some are hand-made or carved with mantras (some believe the words help heighten the calming effect), while others are formed naturally from the ocean. Since worry stones are most often made from natural stone, people often choose the type of stone for their intended purpose. For example, many claim that worry stones made from black onyx absorb negative energy and that clear quartz worry stones will help you become clear-headed and make important decisions

The invention of worry stones is often credited to the ancient Greeks, where rocky coastlines meant smooth stones became popular to hold and fiddle with. Though similar concepts also existed among Native American tribes, Tibetan Buddhists, and Irish pagans. Using small stones for a connection to peace or spirituality is not new. Stone beads are part of many Christian or Buddhist traditions, where rosaries or prayer beads are run through your fingers. But it wasn’t until the 1970s, timed with the hippy movement, that worry stones came to the forefront of alternative medicine and steadily increased in popularity. During this time, it would be common to see them at a checkout beside friendship bracelets or mood rings. 

For Brooklyn-based Bruja and Dazed Beauty wellness editor Emilia Ortiz, her experience with worry stones has been less about finding the “right one” and more about letting them find her (often natural stones and not crystals). “My first encounter with a worry stone was as a child with my mum. We were at a beach and had come across a stone that was smoothed just right with an indent perfect for my thumb to fit,” she explains. “My mum explained to me that it’s called a worry stone and they touch on certain pressure points providing a relaxing sensation as you process your troubles. Which explains why one would need one that fits their individual hand and their individual troubles.”

While many crystal healers and enthusiasts swear by worry stones, Los Angeles-based crystal healer Azalea Lee is not one of them. “The popular presentation of crystals and their energies is completely trite and not representative of how crystalline energy truly works,” she explains. “Products like worry stones detract from how crystals actually work and are not better for your energetically than a simple tumbled stone of the same crystal.” Lee believes that modern wellness crystals are often presented in a prescriptive way as if you should only have a crystal for the symptoms you present. She says seeking healing through crystals is a lot more nuanced than that. 

“There are no rules. Worry stones are for anyone. They just automatically find their way into your hands and work with the subconscious mind more than the conscious” – Kate Alexandra Deeley, crystal healer and founder, Light of Scientia

Lee has noticed a growing interest in crystals from her clients over the past few years, something she puts down to us living in “a critical junction” of history. “We are experiencing polarising political discord, extreme social and economic strife, and a planet which is climatically suffering because of humanity’s greed all at the same time,” she says. “At the same time, there is a deeper recognition of the need for human rights as well as a greater awareness of our responsibility toward our planet and all the other beings that live on her with us.” 

Kate Alexandra Deeley, crystal healer and founder of Light of Scientia, has also seen an increase in clientele, which she expects to grow further this year as “2020 is said to be the year of awakening to new ideas. I have seen a huge shift in people’s awareness this last year, people are generally opening up to holistic healthcare, wellness practises and crystals more,” she says. Worry stones, she says, can be a perfect entryway into crystals because “there are no rules. Worry stones are for anyone. They just automatically find their way into your hands and work with the subconscious mind more than the conscious.” Deeley elaborates. “You can simply have one in your pocket, keep it on your desk at work, or you may perhaps find it helpful to use a worry stone whilst meditating.” 

Like Ortiz, you may let your first worry stone “find you” or you can purchase them in person at crystal stores and online retailers. They’re even available on eBay and Amazon. While Deeley recommends pink and green stones for 2020 (as these colours help to “open the heart and invoke feelings of love and forgiveness”), she believes the most important part of choosing a worry stone is to go with one that you are drawn to. She says the “emotional climate” this year makes it the right time to choose stones such as rose quartz, pink calcite, rhodonite, pink opal, green aventurine, amazonite, and green. 

While crystal mining can be unethical (there’s also the argument that the “trend” appropriates from Bruja culture) and there is little, if any, scientific evidence that they benefit physical or emotional healing, worry stones have become somewhat of a luxury “fidget item”. This means that, like stress balls and fidget spinners, there’s some evidence backing claims that they help with concentration and clarity. One preliminary study showed improvement in “attitude, attention, writing abilities, and peer interaction” for sixth graders using stress balls. 

We could debate that the luxury wellness trend may have gone too far with crystal drink bottles, but the growing interest in worry stones might strike the perfect balance by being a useful fidget item while catering to our longing for a deeper connection to the earth. Whether using one will impact your stress levels might only be possible to answer on a personal basis by grabbing one and trying it out.

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