Stress has been around since time immemorial. From the meditation techniques developed by the ancients to newer models of therapy and mindfulness, humans have been constantly devoted to finding new ways to achieve center and balance.
Today is no different. Our challenges may be different than they were thousands of years ago, but we’re still on the lookout for ways to calm our nerves and achieve clarity in times of distress. While the old reliables like meditation and yoga are as effective and popular as ever, technology and plant medicine are lending themselves to even more methods for stress-relief.
If you’re feeling stressed out, interested in diversifying your wellness toolbox, or looking for new ways to achieve a sense of calm, read on for some innovative techniques you may not have heard about yet:
Binaural beats are audio recordings that use sound frequencies to trigger natural responses in our brains such as calm, focus, and alertness.
The human brain operates on a number of brainwave frequencies that are associated with different mental states. When our brains are in the alpha state, for instance, we’re feeling relaxed but alert. The theta state is associated with deep meditation, and the beta state is associated with clarity and mental alertness.
These brainwave frequencies are measured in hertz. The human ear can’t hear sounds at these frequencies, but experts have figured out that by producing two moderately different sounds, one in each ear, they will cancel each other out, thereby allowing us to “hear” the sound frequencies associated with the mental states we wish to achieve.
For example, the alpha state falls between 9-14 hertz. We wouldn’t be able to hear sounds at that low frequency, but if we listen to tones through headphones that fall at, say 300 hertz on the left, and 291 hertz on the right, we’re left with the 9 hertz it takes to ‘entrain’ our minds to reach the alpha state.
But enough with the sonic theory. If you go on YouTube, you’ll be able to find thousands of binaural beat recordings tailored to every mood. They’re often designed for meditation, sleep, focus, and even lucid dreaming.
These videos attract thousands upon thousands of viewers who find that these safe, mood-altering tones help them relax and focus. Binaural beats have even hit the mainstream, and more and more people are tuning in for insomnia, stress-relief, and meditation.
Another YouTube phenomenon that’s growing steadily in popularity, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is winning many over with its ability to evoke feelings of relaxation through mere sound.
ASMR videos use calming sounds, images, and triggers that produce a sort of tingly feeling in the body. Though research is still lacking in describing what, exactly, produces these responses, anyone who’s ever gotten chills from the sound of someone lightly whispering, smacking their lips, or gently tapping their fingers will know exactly what ASMR is about.
Today, you can find thousands of ASMR videos on YouTube, as well as ASMR personalities who have earned their own sponsorships and national media attention. ASMR videos often use audio and visual triggers and can be integrated into role-playing stories such as scalp-massages and visits to the spa to recreate feelings of comfort, pampering, and bliss.
Relaxation is a Keyboard Click Away
We’ll never stop looking for ways to overcome our stress, and that’s a good thing. As technology improves and neuroscience tells us more and more about how our minds work, we’ll continue to find ways to silence restless thoughts and reach healthier, more relaxed mindsets. Online therapists provide another more convenient means to get help, along with online guided meditations, streamable yoga classes, and even new forms of herbal remedies. These new techniques aren’t the answer to our problems, and there’s no reason to abandon the old-standbys. But when it comes to dealing with stress and lack of focus, you can never have too many tools in your therapeutic toolbox.