Breathe in, breathe out

Anxiety disorders affect nearly 20 percent of American adults, and more than 30 percent of adolescents. This health epidemic, as some experts have declared it, has given way to a new market opportunity: anti-anxiety design. Enterprising designers and entrepreneurs are incorporating therapeutic technologies and design tactics into their products, offering holistic ways to relieve stress and anxiety. And while this is still a nascent category, we expect that this trend is just getting started.


You’re probably familiar with weighted blankets, which became popular at the start of the pandemic as a way to combat stress, anxiety, and insomnia. But imagine if you could take the experience a step further and wear it. Enter the Therahoodie weighted hoodie. Designed to replicate the feeling of a hug, this zip-up sweatshirt is lined with sherpa and filled with 10 pounds of micro glass beads throughout the upper body, with extra weight in the shoulder to help soothe and relax muscles. Like weighted blankets, the Therahoodie has the same therapeutic effects of deep pressure stimulation.


If the Therahoodie is the weighted blanket you can wear, the Hugimal is the weighted blanket that you can hug and – the real draw – that hugs you back. Developed by a health journalist in collaboration with pediatricians, psychologists, and occupational therapists, Hugimals aims to combine the emotional benefits of a beloved stuffed animal with the wellness aspects of a weighted blanket. Like the Therahoodie, the weighted pressure of a Hugimal brings on a relaxation response from the nervous system, which lowers cortisol and stimulates the production of oxytocin and dopamine. Pre-launch, they rolled out a pilot program in children’s hospitals around the country, in partnership with the Toy Foundation and Children’s Hospital Association, where the stuffed animals – and their therapeutic hugs – received high marks.


The Plufl bills itself as the world’s first dog bed designed for humans, and while that’s a catchy slogan, there’s a lot more to it than that. Though it does indeed look like an oversized dog bed, the premium napping bed was thoughtfully engineered by two overworked, under-slept college students to promote quick bouts of shut-eye and alleviate stress and anxiety. Made of orthopedic memory foam and covered in plush faux fur, it’s lightweight and easily transportable, ideal for an on-the-go nap. The TikTok-viral Plufl launched on Kickstarter earlier this year and currently has 799 backers who have pledged a total of $290,657.