A study carried out by researchers at Kings College London, of a group of 27 people with anxiety or depression, found that using the Havening Technique can reduce symptoms by altering the way memories are stored
If you're feeling anxious, or struggling to deal with difficult memories, the simple act of rubbing your arms may help banish the emotional pain, according to the study.
The simple technique, known as Havening, can help reduce anxiety and depression by altering the way memories are stored or recalled. It involves rubbing your arms and moving your eyes in a series of motions.
The process works by boosting levels of the mood-stabilising brain chemical serotonin, which can disrupt the link between the memory of an event and the distress it causes. So, whilst the memory can still be retrieved, it no longer causes anguish.
The research team, led by King's College London, and which included behavioural scientist and hypnotist Paul McKenna; recruited a group of 27 men and women who had reported having problems with work due to anxiety or depression.
The participants were given a single session of Havening, which involved thinking about the negative event that was causing the anxiety while their arms were touched, coupled with distracting tasks such as thinking about walking up the stairs, or humming Happy Birthday.
The group was followed-up a week later, and again after two months, using several standardised measures of psychological wellbeing.
'Overall, we found that within this small sample there was a clear improvement on all mental health measures after the Havening intervention, said lead researcher Professor Neil Greenberg.
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How rubbing your arms can banish bad memories -
The 'Havening' technique helps you get rid of distressing thoughts