If you have anxiety, chances are you may have tried some pretty weird things to remedy it throughout your life. I know I have… especially during a panic attack. Panic attacks get so horrible that in the midst of one, I would probably try some pretty crazy things to get the panic to subside.
Some things, like standing on your head and spinning in a circle, are probably not so effective (if it’s worked for you, then congratulations). Others, like slowly counting backwards, or doing intense exercise to alleviate the panic, work surprisingly well sometimes. There are, of course, many time-tested natural remedies for anxiety, but since you’re probably familiar with both meditation and essential oils, I figured I’d go through some weird ones.
If you’re looking for some outside-the-box ways to tackle your anxiety, consider the following eight “weird” remedies:
This is one of my personal favorite ways to relieve anxiety — I write everything out. Next time you’re feeling wound up, or even in the middle of a panic attack, grab a journal and a pen, or open a blank document on your computer or phone, and just start writing. You can write about what’s bothering you, or write about something completely different. Write a story. Do some free association. Go with whatever your subconscious mind wants to talk about.
Not only does this feel great while you’re doing it (it works for me, at least), going back and reading what you’ve written later can give you a lot of insight about yourself.
Along with writing, I find that creative projects in general really help me to release a lot of my anxiety. I like to draw and paint primarily, although I’ve also enjoyed charcoals and clay sculpture in the past. For very hands-on people, sculpture may be ideal, or projects such as papier mache. Whatever medium you choose, absorbing yourself in a creative project is highly zen.
Cut out wheat and sugar
For some, cutting wheat and sugar out of the diet may have significant benefits on anxiety, and heal other health disturbances. The gluten found in wheat (and barley and rye) may contribute to anxiety in some individuals, as may sugar. Try avoiding both for two weeks and assessing how you feel. Keeping a journal can really help with your assessment.
On the subject of sugar, by the way, the stuff really is poison for both your mind and your body. If you’re still eating refined sugar, check out these ways to quit, and healthier alternatives to use instead.
Take a break from social media
If you’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter often, it may be beneficial for your brain to take a break. While these types of social platforms are great for communicating and sharing with family and friends, research has found that overuse may lead to depression or anxiety in some individuals.
If you find that your social media usage may be contributing to your stress, and therefore to your anxiety, make it a point to unplug, at least for a little while, and see how you feel. If you find that you feel better after this break, make sure to make it a habit to unplug often.
Hit the road
Some people may find travel highly therapeutic to their anxiety. If you’ve been stuck in a rut, feeling trapped in a routine, or have a sense of being boxed in by your current day-to-day life, shaking things up may help a lot. Traveling to a new place and experiencing a new culture may help to “reset” your brain a bit. This may not totally make your anxiety go away, but if a lot of it is tied to your routine, you may find yourself looking at the world with fresh, calmer eyes if you hit the road for a bit.
As I’m sure you already know, Mother Nature is a very powerful healer. You’ve probably heard growing up that when you’re in a slump, you should get outside for some sunshine, fresh air and exercise. This simple advice can work wonders for children and adults alike… and there is science behind this. Some research on grounding, the therapeutic effect of having contact with the Earth (also called earthing), has found that it can have anxiety and depression-relieving benefits.
So, next time you’re feeling panicked, try going outside, and staying outside for as long as you can. Bonus points for exercising outside. Even more bonus points for enjoying the outdoors barefoot (weather and practical circumstances permitting). Notice how you feel once you return home. Is your anxiety lifted at all?
Play in the dirt
Along with simply getting outside, getting dirty may help you to find your inner zen. This is a real thing: some research has found that a certain type of bacteria found in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, aids in the release of serotonin when we come into contact with it. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that affects your levels of anxiety and depression, and your mood in general. So, next time you’re outside, walk barefoot in the mud, build a sandcastle… just get dirty in some fun way!
Don’t dismiss psilocybin
This isn’t a legal option in the United States yet, but researchers are making some headway on psilocybin, the active compound in “magic mushrooms.” This substance is currently being studied for its ability to ameliorate both depression and anxiety. A lot more research needs to be done, but someday, there may be therapeutic psilocybin options available to us. If this interests you, keep a lookout for studies performed in your area and consider signing up.
When it comes to anxiety, different remedies work for different people. If you try one and it’s not for you, don’t give up! Always remember, you’re not alone, and if you need someone to talk to, all you have to do is reach out. If you’ve been struggling for a long time and are having a tough go of it, consider connecting with a therapist. If you find one you can trust, this relationship can have a lot of benefits.
What’s your favorite “weird” anxiety remedy?
— Tanya Mead