The stone age – How crystals could help support your mental health and overall wellbeing

The popular perception of crystal healing can be a little… dismissive, to say the least.

In the mainstream, crystals are often brushed off as a branch of pseudoscience or ‘woo-woo’ alternative medicine. After all, claim the skeptics, what could a bunch of pretty rocks do for your health? (Not to mention the controversy around their mining – the environmental and social cost of pulling them out of the earth in some of the planet’s poorest countries).

But regardless of the lack of scientific evidence, a growing club of enthusiasts claim that crystals boast a wealth of anecdotal wellbeing benefits – and what if they’re right?

Crystal healing

Crystals have long been associated with healing – in fact, the Ancient Sumerians document the special powers of crystals as far back as 4,500 BCE. Crystals pop up across history – and cultures – linked with ideas of purity, perfection, wealth and the divine.

Some advocates of crystal healing claim that crystals work by giving off a ‘vibrational energy’ which affects the vibration of the body’s molecules, affecting mood and energy. Others claim that crystals affect the mind over the body, providing a symbol of purity, inspiration and perfection.

There are still no peer-reviewed studies that prove the effect of crystals on the body or mind. But setting an intention, as crystal healing helps many people do, works a bit like mindfulness and actually can help with things like focus, emotional processing and nervous system regulation.

Plus, there’s a lot to be said for the placebo effect. In a famous 1999 study, two researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London, asked volunteers to meditate with either a real quartz crystal or a placebo stone that looked the same. Those using a real crystal reported feeling higher levels of focus, energy and spiritual wellbeing – but so did those using a fake crystal. The power of crystal healing may be all in your head – but if that helps, what’s the harm?

Crystals for calm

Crystals are believed by some to have a host of other positive effects. Decorating a room with crystals is said to help maintain healthy feng shui, while some holistic health practitioners use crystals to enhance facials, massages and chiropractic procedures.

For Jess Benns, owner of Smudge & Co (@smudgeandconz), a crystal, candle and jewellery brand, crystals are a key part of self-care and were instrumental in her recovery from a mental breakdown.

“I’ve always been interested in the earth,” she explains. “But then I was mid-breakdown and I only had $50 left and I went to a crystal store and just ordered whatever I could for that amount because I’d tried everything else. Ever since, I’ve been addicted.”

She describes the crystals as making her feel “a sense of lightness” and offering a way to cope with the negative things that happen day to day. “Mentally, physically, you feel really powerful,” she explains. “I know it’s just this rock that sits in your bra or pocket, but you feel as though the crystal you’ve put all that trust into is working. Whether it’s a placebo effect or not doesn’t really matter – the crystal is helping you to heal yourself.”

Benns believes crystals can benefit the average person’s mental health and overall wellbeing if they open themselves up to the possibility – and she started Smudge & Co in 2020 to share the healing power of crystals with others.

“Crystals can be a part of your toolbox,” she explains. “If you’ve been to counselling, you’ll know that counsellors constantly go on about these ‘toolboxes’ of techniques you need to develop to heal yourself.

“Crystals are just another tool in the toolbox, something that gives you hope, one more coping strategy. They’re a spiritual connection to something and a form of self-care. Having one just changes your mindset.”

Starting out with crystals

Curious about crystals but not sure where to start? Benns recommends choosing your first crystal based simply on what calls to you. “Follow what your body tells you,” she advises. “When you go on a website or go to a store, see what crystals jump out at you. Normally what it means is that you need that crystal. My best advice is to let the crystals choose you – you’ll get better healing from them that way.”

That being said, there are some basic parameters it helps to be aware of. Take a look at our guide (see right) to some of the most common types of crystals and what they’re used for.

Calcite – The energiser

Green calcite is said to boost energy, remove stagnant energy and reduce fear and stress, while blue calcite is used to soothe frayed nerves and anxiety.

Amethyst – The all-rounder

Used for healing, purifying and enhancing willpower, amethyst is said to support spiritual wisdom and rid the mind of negative thoughts. It’s also said to aid sleep.

Tiger’s eye – The harmoniser

Need a motivation boost? This golden stone can help you make clear decisions, rid your mind of doubt and experience harmony and balance.

Obsidian – The protector

This inky stone is said to guard against negative feelings and help process emotional blockages.

Clear quartz – The master healer

The so-called ‘god’ of the crystals, clear quartz is an all-purpose stone believed to support the entire energetic system and is great for putting you in total balance.

Rose quartz – The stone of love

Believed to encourage trust and love, whether of the self or others, this crystal enhances human connection and offers comfort in times of grief.

Jasper – The nurturer

Said to provide support during times of stress, jasper allegedly empowers the spirit and absorbs negative vibes.

Citrine – The happy stone

With its sunny orange colour, citrine is believed to spark joy, enthusiast

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