Head Wrapping for Anxiety and other Mental Health Issues

Most of us have heard about someone having an ‘out of body’ experience. Well, quite a few head wrappers wrap for the reason of emotional regulation and lately we’ve heard it explained often that, most importantly, wrapping this way causes the phenomenon of an ‘in body’ experience – that wrapping the head draws ones thoughts and negative energies out of the head and into the body, where they may be dealt with in more healthful ways than by them manifesting in anxiety and other mental health issues.

Before we get started, we want to mention that by no means are the contents of this article to be considered as medical diagnosis or treatment advice. That being said, we took some time to read a bit and to chat with three wrappers to learn about their trials and tribulations with this interesting type of natural healing!

Nikki W. shared the following with us. Anxiety had been a constant companion of hers since childhood. She grew up as a blind child in a sighted world. Simply the anxiety of getting from point A to point B in a world that was not designed for the way she had had to function was, in itself, an early source of anxiety. Add to that continuous bullying, her growing up as a “latch key kid” and various traumatic experiences throughout her lifetime, including the death of her first child, and she ended up developing a plethora of anxiety disorders. Her official diagnoses over the years include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Social Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress and Panic Disorder. The impact that these various forms of anxiety have had on her life have been debilitating to the point of rarely, if ever, leaving her house and little to no in person socialization. Oddly enough, she is a performer and that brings her no anxiety whatsoever. She has never experienced stage fright. The stage and her home are the two places she feels “safe”. Her love of performing is actually what led her to start wrapping, along with the encouragement of her two daughters.

Nikki has been treated with medications and therapy at different points in her life with varying degrees of success. The efficacy of medications tends to decrease over time as the body builds a tolerance to the medications in use. Treatment with certain antidepressants is common in the managing of anxiety disorders, but for her it created more anxiety. Treatment with anti-anxiety medications works better, but the tolerance builds quickly and can lead to dependency. She currently uses anti-anxiety medication to help stave off nightmares related to post traumatic stress.

For Nikki, one extremely helpful therapeutic tool has been meditation. Consciously slowing the breathing, letting thoughts drift away from the mind, provides temporary relief. The problem that she has in using this method in the past has been that she can only meditate for very brief periods of time when she is in a state of hyper anxiety and not at all if a panic attack has been triggered. At that point she simply has to ride it out and wait for it to end.

Both of Nikki’s daughters have covered their hair for years for their own personal reasons, for both of whom includes anxiety. Nikki never understood the benefit. In her mind she saw it as fabric and didn’t see it as something other than that. “If a powerful medication or therapy isn’t going to help me, how is a piece of fabric going to work?” She simply dismissed the idea.

In September of 2021, Nikki was performing in a local production of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” as the eccentric medium Madame Arcati. Her costume included a beautiful gold turban. Her eldest daughter, who was in the play with her, loaned Nikki her Wrapunzel Cloud 9 shaper and No-Slip Headband to wear underneath the turban to provide more volume. When she first put the costume on in the dressing room, she immediately noticed a calmness settle over her. She didn’t think it was related to the head covering, at first, but night after night the same sense of peace and focus came over her as soon as she covered her head with the shaper and turban. The show ran for three weeks and by the end of the first week she began to really understand what was happening. Nikki’s sense of anxiety returned every evening when she took off the the head covering. She sat down with her eldest daughter and asked her why this works. Her daughter explained to her the theory that she had heard is that in covering the ‘crown chakra’ it helps to dampen the overwhelming emotional energy that someone who is very empathic is bombarded with on a regular basis. It acts as a protective barrier. As many other childhood trauma survivors know, one becomes an empath out of necessity. One needs to learn to “read the room” in order to feel safe and even survive. It’s a conditioned trauma response.

By the time Nikki and her company had reached the second week of performances, she never wanted to take her costume off. Her birthday was coming up very soon during the show’s dates, and her daughters asked Nikki if she’d like a Wrapunzel Kallah Kit – one of Wrapunzel’s specially curated collections of scarves, accessories and underpinnings (to achieve grip and shape while head wrapping.) They said they would go in together to buy her one as a gift. Nikki was absolutely thrilled! She had a few personal scarves at that point and had begun trying basic wraps that she saw on the Wrapunzel YouTube channel, starting with The Regal Wrap. She was a little nervous about public reaction, but the relief that wrapping was giving her was not worth giving up. No, it did not fix all of her anxiety. She doesn’t want to give the impression that it completely went away, but it was more relief than she had ever experienced from any other treatment. She also discovered that when wrapping she could meditate more deeply and for longer periods of time. That gave her extra relief for her anxiety and panic.

Nikki’s collection of head coverings has expanded from 12 personal scarves to 117 scarves, pre-tieds and hats since the beginning of October 2021. She has nothing but gratitude for the amazing art of head wrapping. She’s become more social, confident in her every day activities, and at peace with herself and her journey. She has found something that truly expresses who she is and allows her freedom from severely debilitating anxiety and panic. It also aligns beautifully with her religious beliefs as a Pagan and follower of Hestia. She endured a great deal of hair loss from fibromyalgia and a nearly fatal case of COVID-19 in 2020. Now she no longer feels self-conscious about that hair loss because she has beautiful head coverings. She can openly express her creative energy in her every day life. In general, people have been amazing. People of all ages and backgrounds complement her wraps. She smiles at people more. She stops and talks with people that she doesn’t even know, and she’d never done that before. Even her 19 month old grandbaby loves her scarves. When her granddaughter sees her in a new wrap, her whole being lights up and she exclaims, “Mimi Pwetty!” Even that sweet, small response brings Nikki peace and joy.

(Pictured Below: Nikki’s costume for “Blithe Spirit”. This is the head covering that started her wrapping journey. )

Another wrapper who has experienced this phenomenon is Rachel D. She’s had anxiety for most of her life. For a long time, it was one of those things she just trudged through or put to the side while taking care of the people she loves. A lot of people do that. The first time she wrapped her hair was kind of on a whim because of a particularly bad hair day.  She immediately noticed an internal shift, something just clicked into place. She called it the “rightness.” The feeling was a sense of calm and grounded energy. It was a feeling she wanted to chase. 

One thing led to another, and she found herself on the Wrapunzel Community group on Facebook. In reading through some of the comments, someone said that ‘wrapping helped with their anxiety. Their wrap felt like a gentle hug throughout the day’ and others chimed in with similar comments about energy, and so on. She recalls literally yelling, “That’s it! That’s the rightness!” into her computer screen.  

She had never considered that sensory issues could be contributing to her anxiety. She used to always wear her long hair up in a clip because she hated the feeling of it near her face or brushing against her neck and shoulders. Wrapping has been a fun, creative way for her to solve that problem and feel calm, poised, beautiful, and focused. She can’t say that she hasn’t experienced any anxiety since she started wrapping, but she can say without a doubt, that her anxiety has been noticeably and consistently reduced.

Rachel lives and works in a community where head covering is not common. She’s only had positive feedback and when people ask her why she does it, she tells them that it’s ‘because it’s creative and helps with her anxiety.’ If she can help, even a little, to normalize head covering in her community and have honest conversations about mental health with strangers, then she feels like she’s paying forward all the good things that wrapping has brought to her life. 

So far, we’ve seen that both of these ladies experienced some sort of ‘paradigm shift’ when they put on their head wrap. There’s a sense of a ‘hug,’ a security one feels when wrapping that is unmatched. Let’s hear Rebekah B’s story, and see what happens when she puts on her ‘cure crown.’

When I was a small child, my mother taught me to crochet. She taught me as her mother taught her, my hand in hers as we guided the needle gently along. And as we formed each small stitch, my mother told me stories. The one that captivated me most was the story of how women long ago would weave strands of their hair into each blanket or scarf they created, securing bits of themselves into their work. It gave each piece, I thought, a soul of sorts. And so, in my mind, hair became a testament to the soul. How little I knew of what trouble that testament would cause me.

I began pulling out my eyebrows and eyelashes in middle school. Forever on the receiving end of teasing and taunts, my anxiety grew out of proportion with what my little mind could carry and so, the leftover anxiety left my body through my fingers, and through my fingers, my hair. With the tug of each strand came a temporary relief – a balm – and I craved that release when tension built up inside of me. And so I pulled more and more until eventually my hands found their way to my head.

I don’t need to tell you that I tried to stop. Oh, how I tried. What was once a relief was now a compulsion that I despised and desperately wished to quit. My whole life people had fawned over my thick, wavy head of hair. A plain child, it was my claim to beauty. And now, my hair thinned. Bald patches peeked through a copper curtain. The story of my pain and anxiety was no longer private, but on display for all to see. And so, I hid.

I tried wigs. They were fun, for a while. I played around with different styles, trying on different personalities for each day of the week – an interesting metaphor for a time in my life when I wasn’t sure who I even was, and who I was shifted from day to day. But the world is not always kind to those who are different, and when you are secretly self-conscious about those differences, the sideways glances and offhand comments sting a little more. I began to feel like I was wearing a costume every time I went out. I thought I was wearing a wig to look more like myself, but really, I felt less and less like myself and my identity dissolved until I felt like nothing more than a painted doll on a shelf.

My loss of identity escalated, and in my young adulthood, I continued to seek it. I developed anorexia and lost the remainder of my hair from lack of nutrition. During my recovery, I decided to throw caution to the wind and shave my head. But that too felt inauthentic. My appearance didn’t tell the story I wanted it to tell. I wanted strands of hair to weave into blankets – a way to leave bits of myself inside the grand story of the universe. But without hair, there was no way to tell my story. Or so I thought.

I grew out my hair for a while, then, due to the increased anxiety that came along with my weight gain in recovery, began pulling it out again. I didn’t want to go back to wigs. To go back to anything felt like defeat. My story was one of brokenness. And it literally showed in my physical body. But I didn’t want people to see someone broken when they looked at me. After all, I had been near death and come back. Not unscathed, but stronger. How could I show the world that? How, when they looked at me, would they know who I am?

That is when I discovered Wrapunzel. A community of women who covered their hair – for all different reasons – and were proud of it. Late one night I stumbled across their website and scrolled through pictures of gorgeous scarves and wrap styles and women who looked like queens. I grabbed a few scarves I already owned and followed several tutorials that very night. My heart hammered inside my chest. I felt enlightened. A peace and familiarity flooded and warmed my body. This felt right. I ordered several scarves, and my wrapping journey began.

In the act of wrapping, I became one with my Creator. This was an act of creation. This was storytelling. I wove my story with each twirl and tug of fabric. Instead of hiding myself, through wrapping, I began to express myself. I could be bold and colorful and, I felt, I looked strong. I looked like me. My soul was wrapped up in each knot and braid. And I told my mother, it was impossible to hang my head when going out wrapped with my scarves. I began to hold my head high.

Something else began to happen. Wrapping was not only a barrier to my hair pulling, but it made me feel cherished. Covering my hair protected my hair and made it sacred. By covering it, I honored it, and because hair and the soul were so connected for me, by wrapping I honored my soul as well.  For the first time since losing my hair, I respected myself. I could tell the story I wanted to tell about myself.

And the story is that she is strong.

All of the above is what might be experienced by donning a head wrap while one experiences anxiety or suffers from the symptoms of other mental health issues. The ‘just right head hug’ gives comfort and an inner peace that soothes and provides relief that not much else can. The confidence one gains by wearing wraps may even help stave off the anxiety to begin with – before it becomes overwhelming.

And you will be strong.

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SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT ANXIETY AND RELATED ISSUES

First of all, when examining this phenomena, it is important to understand a bit about anxiety and its mental health manifestations, as well as learning about when it may be time to see a medical professional about ones anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety can produce numerous symptoms that may impede normal function in daily life. The physical signs of anxiety may include but aren’t limited to insomnia, feeling weak or tired, sweating, tremors, rapid breathing, an increase in heart rate or even gastrointestinal issues. Psychological/mental signs of anxiety may include, but aren’t limited to feelings of tension, nervousness or doom, trouble concentrating or thinking about anything but your worries, having difficulty controlling worried feelings and avoiding things altogether that may trigger anxiety.

Anxiety disorders vary in severity. Persons with Generalized Anxiety Disorder worry about routine events and issues. The worry is excessive compared to the actual problem, and effects how the sufferer feels physically. Generalized Anxiety Disorder may present along with other mental health issues such as depression.

Anxiety may show itself when a person is suffering from a physical issue and is worried terribly about their health. In addition, it may cause Agoraphobia (a fear or avoidance of certain places or situations) or Panic Disorder (sudden, repeated episodes of intense anxiety, fear or terror that come on within minutes and cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath or chest pain)

In children, anxiety may present as Separation Anxiety Disorder (brought on by departing from parents or caregivers), Social Anxiety Disorder (brought on by certain feelings of embarrassment, feeling self-conscious or feeling judged in specific social situations), or even as selective mutism (a child’s failure to be able to speak under certain circumstances that worry them).

The above are only a sampling of ways that anxiety may disrupt the everyday, routine function of an individual at home, work, school, etc. One can certainly see how these symptoms may be quite troubling and bothersome.

When should someone seek professional help for their anxiety symptoms? If one feels as if they’re worrying too much, or are having troubles at work, in their relationships or other parts of their lives, or they think their anxiety may be linked to a physical or mental health problem, they should seek professional help. And without a doubt, should they begin using alcohol or drugs to quell their symptoms or experience any suicidal thoughts or behaviors, they should seek professional help immediately. They should not wait things out for them to improve on their own. There are many methods of treatment for anxiety disorders that are proven and effective.

One thought on “Head Wrapping for Anxiety and other Mental Health Issues

  1. JUDITH BERNSTEIN

    This was an amazing article. I learned so much. Your content was careful, loving and informative. Thank you.

    Like

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