The rise of comforters for anxious parents

KAcie Willis, a 34 -year -old Atlanta -based vocalist, suffered an attack for no apparent reason. She has tried cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), anti-anxiety medication, mindfulness therapy, and CBD oil. Although some of these respite were given, some form of rehabilitation always helped her manage her anxiety, even at night: Kasey Kangaroo, an animal she had had since she was four years old.

Willis can’t pinpoint exactly why his full kangaroo helps his anxiety, but he can. “Even if I don’t stay up all night when I’m asleep, it’s very close for me to know it’s there. That’s why it helps my anxiety – the only comforting thing, the locals.

Whether they are dealing with anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness, or memory loss, many people find comfort in confined animals, heavy packs, and soft comforters. . Researchers and product developers have found that, and they have created products that are designed to help reduce some diseases. There is now a fluffy robotic display for people with dementia, a heavy teddy bear for distressed parents, and a breathable cushion to soothe people.

Because it is an emerging field, science is being taught behind why certain things make us happy. But Dr. David Spiegel, director of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University, said it was important for people to find comfort in these things. “We know kids love pets – they’re what we call a‘ switchboard ’between being on your own and being with someone else,” she said. Things like this can work the same for parents. “It’s not surprising that people can develop feelings and emotions about interpersonal relationships without food.”

One small study published in 2020 at Journal of Integrative Medicine it was found that overweight patients had a reduced risk of patients at a psychiatric facility who chose to use them, compared with non -patients. The authors hypothesized the relaxation effect to induce deep pressure, a concept given by heavy packs to relax the nervous system. Another study was published in 2013 in the journal Psychological science It has been found that holding a teddy bear can reduce fear in low -income people.

A new research study published in March 2022 in the journal PLOS One provides more insight into why these types of things provide comfort. Researcher and roboticist Alice Haynes, a former member of the soft robotics team at Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK, teamed up with Annie Lywood – a clothing specialist who has created products for people with disabilities. heart – try a breathing cushion that students can use. end the apprehension before the trial.

The students of the experimental group held on to the object – a red, baby -colored pillow as large as a throwing pillow that was inflated and melted, simulating breathing and breathing – for eight seconds. minutes before their trial. One power group practiced guided breathing, while another power group did not do anything special. Haynes and his team found that holding on to a breathing cushion reduced anxiety as much as it did mindfulness.

“This shows that the cushion can work just as well as breathing exercises for anxiety,” said Haynes, who is finishing her postdoctoral fellowship at Saarland University in Germany. “We didn’t give the students the experiment a guide on how to use the cushion. We didn’t tell them to follow with their breath or anything – it was just a clean routine. holding the breath relieved their anxiety.I think we intended to help with the anxiety, but we enjoyed the good as much as the thought of breathing.

Lywood – who is involved in marketing the breathable cushion through his company Sooothe – believes the findings show our true need for touch, even if it is not human and alive. perhaps the reason for this. “We like the touch,” he said. But for the many people who are deprived during the illness, he points out, “we kind of see the value again.”

Some comfort items – such as breathing exercises and weight packs – are designed to help with stress and anxiety, while others are designed to address mental and movement problems. The PARO robotic seal, for example, was introduced in 2003 to reduce stress, isolation, and loneliness in the elderly with dementia. Now in its eighth appearance, the beautiful sealant – weighing six pounds and moving, making a voice, and responding to human interaction like a real animal – has been found to improve muscles. things such as strengthening, connecting, and relaxing this population. .

An article published in Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 looked at the use of the PARO seal in more than 400 patients with dementia in long -term care facilities in Queensland, Australia. Those who were exposed to PARO had more fun than those with dementia who had their usual care. The robotic seal has also helped reduce the risk of self -harm – the lack of features that can be common among patients with dementia – and lower them. Thankfully, the study tested a similar combination game without robotic features and found that while PARO is more efficient, the simpler gameplay offers the same benefits.

Sometimes, new robots aren’t necessary to make people comfortable; a custom teddy bear will be made. When Marcella Johnson lost her fourth baby, George, shortly after she was born in 1999, she found herself with pain in her arms and chest. One week after George’s death, he visited his grave with his father, who brought him a vase full of flowers. “The moment I got that cold, hard cup in my hands, the pain in my heart and arms immediately went away. It was the first time I felt comforted, and it was marked . “

Soon after, Johnson read books about other women who had lost children, and he saw a kind of shock and unexpectedness: many of them were looking for burdens to carry. with them. One woman carried a five pound bag of wheat, and another woman carried a meal that weighed as much as her baby. “When I read that, I thought, If I could reach these other women, then something had to be done. She created the Comfort Cub, a four -pound teddy bear designed for people around the country struggling with the loss of babies and all sorts of pain and depression. “When you put a heavy object in your hands, it can relieve that pain,” Johnson said.

Researchers and practitioners alike rejoice at this young age by the promise of heavyweights. From grasping the breathable cushion, Haynes began researching sensory clothing styles, while Lywood began to create a soft musical cushion.

“Developing around this sensory right for people of all ages is a great asset,” Lywood said. “I think we’re at the beginning of this journey.”

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