Freeze! What are you doing this very minute? If you're playing with your hair, chewing on a fingernail, or balancing a pet on your lap, you're using coping mechanisms to relieve stress and calm your nerves. And there's a whole industry out there trying to sell you more stuff to make you feel better.
Look at some of the biggest consumer trends in the past few years, and you'll see the connection. You've heard of the Fidget Spinner fad, but "fidgets" are a category of stress aids developed for people with ADHD and autism. Other than their shape and interactivity—and their incredible $22 million in sales over just a few short years—they're not much different from squeeze toys and stress balls in that they keep your hands busy and work out pent-up energy for desk-bound workers or couch-bound kids.
Adults who secretly loved to color with their kids stepped out into the light of day when publishers began marketing coloring books, pens, and pencils to teens and adults. Nielsen BookScan reported that consumers bought 12 million adult coloring books in 2015. That's 11 million more than in the previous year. Market gurus claim that the trend went belly-up in 2017 after a solid two-year run, but psychologists still endorse the activity as an excellent stress-reliever.
Essential oils have been around for a long time, but lavender scents and essential oils are heavily promoted for relaxation and healthy sleep. But there's more to aromatherapy than tucking a sachet in your pillow. According to Grand View Research's latest data, the worldwide market for diffusers alone was estimated at $1.22 billion.
Are They Worth the Expense?
Some people feel like they have to do something to combat anxiety, whether or not they're already taking advantage of professional counseling or psychiatric medicine. But many of these popular coping strategies aren't appropriate for the office, or simply don't produce the same results and health benefits as taking short breaks throughout the day to stretch, walk around, and practice stress-relieving deep breathing exercises.
Fads are fun, and some can turn into long-term healthy anxiety-reducing strategies, but the best coping mechanisms are often free. Or, if you find the perfect career, they'll even pay you.
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