TikTok; an app full of dance challenges, influencers, and now post-lockdown anxiety hacks. With a third of the UK population suffering from heightened anxiety during the lockdown, this has now evolved into feeling anxious about returning to some form of normality. A year without socialising has undoubtedly had an impact on our mental health but TikTok is here to help.
Under #anxietytips, there are over 40.2 million views and counting, not including all the variants of this hashtag such as ‘#gymanxietytips’ and ‘#anxietytiptuesday’. Stephanie Taylor, Founder and Wellbeing Expert at StressNoMore, found the most popular anxiety hacks and advised on how useful they actually are.
Relaxing your tongue – @nahala_oaks
Captioned as a ‘meditation tongue trick’ this video has 4.7 million views, possibly due to its simplicity or @nahala_oaks existing platform for sharing mediation tips. This is a hack you can try immediately too! So all together now, remove your tongue from the top of your mouth and pull it to a relaxed position in the bottom of your mouth. That’s it, the whole hack.
Taylor explains that this can help quieten your mind as it can stop your brain’s inner dialogue due to sub vocalisation. This means your tongue responds to your thoughts as if speaking. By stopping your tongue you can help stop the onslaught of thoughts when anxious.
Putting salt on your tongue – @ericbzink
Remaining in the world of tongue-based hacks, this one focuses on what to do if you feel an anxiety or panic attack building. Put a small amount of salt on your tongue and it forces you to drink some water. This distracts your brain for a moment, allowing you to regain some control and calm. At 1.6 million views this is @ericbzink’s most popular hack but he does include others on his page to try, such as swirling strongly flavoured mouthwash around your mouth or eating sour sweets. The principle is similar for all of them.
Essentially, what this hack does is focus your senses on what you can taste, thus distracting you from your rising anxiety. This is likely to be very effective as you will probably need to get a drink after dumping salt in your mouth, distracting you even more. However, using too much salt could make you feel worse. Nausea is a side effect of having too much salt in one go. Furthermore, if used to often you could even raise your blood pressure, causing medical problems too.
Holding ice in your hands – @loriwheeler
Distraction seems to be the prevailing thought with these hacks as this next hack works on this same basis. Holding ice in your hand will help distract your brain from feelings of anxiety. The discomfort will also help you to calm down so you’re able to return to some form of normality. At least with 1.5 million views, @loriwheeler’s followers seem to think it helps.
Taylor suggests that you pass the ice between your hands so that it doesn’t stick to your skin and cause a burn. Another alternative would be to run your hands under the tap for the same effect. A simple, but effective, hack for those who suffer from anxiety attacks but don’t feel like eating salt.
Sensory rings – @greyyyy
A fashion statement that helps. Sensory rings are a great way to help control your anxiety outside of panic attacks too. @Greyyyy’s video, in which she shows some spiky looking rings, has over 879 thousand views. With a variety of colours, these rings are more portable than the other options and can even match your outfit.
The ring will not only distract you as other hacks do but they are able to apply pressure to your finger at all times. This will put mild pressure on your nerves, giving tactile stimulation at all times. Plus it’s great if you tend to fidget.
Beyond the hacks
Tiktok is great for finding a sense of community and helping share information that may aid users in the long run. However, it is not a replacement for professional help. These hacks can temporarily alleviate symptoms, but if you’re repeatedly suffering from feelings of anxiety then you should seek help.
Charities such as Mind can point you in the right direction when looking for support. Your local GP is also a great starting point. Failing that, there will be trained mental health counsellors in your area who can help, although this may be via private funding.
Ultimately, find something that works for you. Don’t overlook professional advice in favour of holding some ice cubes and hoping for the best.
Words by Danni Scott
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