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What are "worry beads"?
Komboloi worry beads resemble prayer beads, but, unlike them, bear no religious significance. They are merely an instrument of relaxation and stress management. In modern times komboloi is also used by people who want to limit smoking.
The origin of the Greek komboloi is debated. It may derive from the komboskini used by Orthodox monks or the Islamic Misbaha. Armenians also have their own worry beads which serve the same purpose as the komboloi and are also non-religious in nature.
Komboloi can be handled in many different ways. The most common are a quiet method, for indoors, and a noisier method that is acceptable in public places. The most common quiet method is to start at one end of the thread or chain, near the shield, and to pull the thread forward using that hand's thumb and the side of the index finger until one of the worry beads is reached. Then the cord is tipped so that the bead falls and hits the shield. This is repeated until all the worry beads have been tipped and then the user starts over.
The second, louder, method is to divide the beads in to two groups. On one end is the shield and a small number of the worry beads. On the other end is the rest of the worry beads. Where the two threads are empty, that space is laid between the index and middle fingers. The hand should be in a position where the palm is facing the torso. Then the end behind the hand is swung up and forward so that it hits the other beads, making a noise. The threads are then switched back into the space between the index and middle fingers by holding the threads between the thumb and the side of the index finger. This is repeated rhythmically, creating a louder clicking noise than the quiet method. An easier and soothing method is to hold all of the kombolói in one hand and roll the worry beads against each other, creating soft clicking sounds.
A more modern version of these worry beads continues to gain increasing popularity. Sometimes called wigglers, these simple strings of worry beads can be used in a number of ways, including both one- and two-handed methods that involve rapidly wiggling the worry beads in various directions. Fans claim that wiggling the worry beads creates a rush of adrenaline, followed by a soothing, calm sensation.