Today’s Solutions: March 31, 2023

Just reading the news, you might occasionally feel your anxiety rise. That’s why The Optimist Daily exists, to counter all this worry by refocusing your worldview on the good that’s going on. As we’ve shown again and again, there is a lot!

We are not the only ones battling for people’s peace of mind, scientists are also tirelessly trying to help the population understand and deal with their anxiety. From tracking down gut bacteria that could be responsible, VR-based therapy, and tips and tricks to turn anxious energy into something productive.

Meet the huggable, breathable, robot cushion

Now a research group from Saarland University in Germany, has invented a treatment for anxiety that sounds a little weird at first, a huggable breathing cushion. The touch-based device mimics human breathing as a technique to reduce anxiety.

The study, published in PLOS ONE, was carried out on 129 volunteer students who all had a math test coming up. Anxiety levels of the students were recorded in the form of a questionnaire, which showed after the cuddling session their anxiety had been reduced.

As effective as meditation

Guided meditation, a common technique used to reduce anxiety, was found to be equally effective as the cushion when compared. Showing the scientists might really be onto something with their breathing robot!

“We were excited to find that holding the breathing cushion, without any guidance, produced a similar effect on anxiety in students as a meditation practice. This ability of the device to be used intuitively opens it up to providing wider audiences with accessible anxiety relief,” stated the authors in their paper.

The next stages are to study individuals in a wider range of scenarios to see if the cushion is also as effective in different cases. Also, the team plans to record the participants’ physiological reactions to the pillow, such as heart rate and breathing pattern, to better understand the impact this treatment could have.

Source study: PLOS ONEA calming hug: Design and validation of a tactile aid to ease anxiety

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