Several months ago I was in a bad place anxiety wise. Everyday was a struggle, feeling on edge, like something was about to go wrong. Catastrophization, probably the most irrational aspect of generalized anxiety.
Feeling anxious everyday is draining. That is why I left my Kitchen job, between the “unknowns”, unexpected changes due to COVID, and a dwindling staff, the weight of the stress was putting a real strain on my mind and body.
So I started about making a bunch of life changes, including the beginning of a few types of therapy, both physical and cognitive. EMDR is something I started on, it stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a form of cognitive therapy based on the concept that previous Traumas cause lasting effects on the mind and body if they are unresolved.
Bottom line, I’ve definitely had more traumas than the average Joe, and unfortunately for whatever reason, I hadn’t worked through the memories and feelings in an effective manner. With the current anxieties, plus past traumas, I was in a state of perpetual anxiety that continued to be fed through my own doing and the influence of external forces.
EMDR is an interesting form of therapy that I now and I now have a number of sessions behind me. Typically, my therapist will bring up a destressing issue, my Brain Injury for example. She’ll ask what I remember, to describe the memories.
The goal is to bring the feelings to the forefront of the mind, and work through them. The goal is to bring conscious awareness to the stress, and to feel it, but not let it take over entirely. It is something of a feat for the Therapist to balance multiple processes at once, keeping my anxiety heightened, asking constructive questions, keeping track of the intensity of the feelings and so on. It is akin to spinning multiple plates at once.
One such aspect is the eye movement part, which is sometimes done with a simple finger moving from side to side in front of the face. The eyes pickup to the pace of a ping pong match, bouncing back and forth, slightly slower though. The purpose of the movement is to bring present attention to the process, to be thinking about the past, yet physically in the present.
It was but a few sessions in that my Therapist suggested I check out a device called Touchpoints. They are these little gadgets you strap to your wrist like a watch, and they vibrate one at a time, left, right, left, right…
There are three speed settings, yet the third one is almost too fast for my liking, so I really only use the first two. Anyways, it is a similar process to the ‘finger method’ the vibrations subconsciously draws attention to the moment, and therapy continues in the same manner.
The touchpoints are to be used outside of the EMDR therapy, being yet another tool to add to the arsenal of daily stress relieving therapies. Having them on feels a bit like a gentle rocking, with a similar soothing effect.
I use them in a number of settings:
- To focus on Work
- During EMDR or other talk Therapy
- To deal with present anxious feelings and a over-active mind
- Leading up to, and during a panic attack
- To calm the mind before going to sleep
- Help re-adjust in the middle of the night, and go back to sleep if I wake up
In all honesty I’ve used them enough at this point to justify the rather high price point. They were going for about $170 for the pair when I bought them online a few months ago. Funnily enough, the developer of the product is a Neurologist who works out of Scottsdale. If I’m in the need of another Brain Map or ECG I’ll look into getting it done through her office.
Overall I’ve been happy with the results I’ve seen from their daily use. I rarely go more than twenty or thirty minutes, twice a day, and while they are on I’m usually either working or just focusing on meditative thoughts and breathing patterns.
They aren’t magic, and don’t work as a therapy independently, however when combined with other forms of therapy they can definitely help to maximize potential gains.
I don’t have ADHD nor am I on the autism spectrum; however, they are apparently quite useful for both as well, and I can see why. Other versions have been around for years, commonly referred to as ‘buzzies’, yet Touchpoints seem to be the sturdiest and most industrial of the lot.
If you’re suffering from constant anxiety and have trouble shifting your focus away from the racing thoughts, I recommend looking into a product like Touchpoints. There are no real negatives, as mentioned they are a bit pricey, however regular use justifies the cost. I’ll include a link below!