Six Seriously Unorthodox Ways to Fight Anxiety

I’ve dealt with anxiety for my whole life.  Never to the level of panic attacks, granted.  But I’ve gone out to parties and networking events, only to be too paralyzed with fear to talk to anyone.  

I’ve stared at my laptop, unable to get any work done, because all I could think about was what if this article sucks?  Most of all, anxiety has been a major factor in my lifelong battle with insomnia.

I’ve found quite a few things that help to alleviate my anxiety, including meditation and quitting caffeine.  But some of the stuff I’ve tried has been more unusual– here are a few of the weirder things that seem to work for most people.  

Drink Kava

Kava, also known as kava-kava or ‘awa, is a root native to the Western Pacific, which contains powerful anxiolytic chemicals known as kavalectones.  It is traditionally chewed or brewed into a beverage on Polynesian islands such as Hawaii, Fiji, and Tonga.  It serves a similar social purpose to alcohol, and if you find yourself turning to alcohol asa short-term anxiety treatment, you would probably benefit from swapping it out for kava.

Why?  Well for starters, kava is healthier.  While large, sustained doses can be bad for the liver, this is rare- overall, kava is much, much easier on your liver than booze.  Second, it produces a much more reliable anxiety-killing effect, for a more sustained period of time, than alcohol does.  Kava has been proven to be effective in treating short-term anxiety, with the effects typically peaking around 3 hours after consumption, and lasting as long as twelve hours.  

Finally, kava won’t ruin your sleep the way alcohol does, and can in fact be beneficial for sleep.  Alcohol may make you sleepy, but it impairs sleep quality, making you more tired, anxious and unhappy the next day.  Kava, by contrast, can actually enhance deep sleep.

Exercise Until You Feel Fatigued

A good alternative to masturbation, exercise has long been established as an effective treatment for anxiety.  While a regular exercise program can be a great long-term remedy for anxiety, shorter, highly intense bursts of exercise can also be a quick and effective treatment for acute anxiety- and one that helps you get into shape, to boot.

If you want to try this method, the next time you feel your anxiety coming on, start doing push-ups.  Keep doing them past the point of psychological fatigue, until you can’t do another one.  Then, stand up and do the same thing with air squats.  Keep alternating between push-ups and squats until you start to feel slightly light-headed; it should take 2-4 minutes.  At the end of that time, your anxiety will be gone- and yes, you’ll be tired, but you’ll have gotten a pretty decent workout in.  

Masturbate

A lot of people have heard that masturbation carries serious health benefits, yet few are willing to talk about it.  And that’s unfortunate, because the health benefits can’t be overstated.  It improves cardiovascular fitness.  It boosts your immune system, and for women, specifically prevents cervical infections.  For men, it reduces the risk of prostate cancer.  

It also helps you sleep. And of course, it fights stress very, very effectively.  It even improves self-esteem.  And of course, it feels great.  Just don’t do it at work (or do it at your own risk anyway).  

Take Kratom

Another herbal remedy, kratom is a leaf native to Southeast Asia which contains a variety of alkaloids that can reduce anxiety, boost mood, or increase your energy levels.  It can be found online and at your local head shop, and comes in a variety of strains, some of which have more stimulant effects, and some of which have more depressant effects.  

For anti-anxiety purposes, you want to stick with the Balinese and Indonesian strains- avoid Thai and Vietnamese strains, which tend to be more stimulating.  Start with a low dose; take just enough to feel an effect, and no more.  Limit kratom use to three days a week to avoid tolerance.   

You do have to be quite precise with kratom dosing, as taking too much can cause nausea.  Dosing depends on body weight and gender; most men will want to start at 2 grams, and most women at 1.25 grams.  It’s best if you take your initial dose on an empty stomach, by mixing it with a beverage like tea or coffee.  If you don’t feel anything, take another half a gram to a gram 30-45 minutes later.  

Once it hits you, don’t take any more– more isn’t better!  It’ll usually wear off in 4-5 hours, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of your system entirely.  If and when you re-dose, you should take only half the dose you initially needed to feel the effects, so around 1-2 grams for most men and .5-1 grams for most women.  

Remain Standing

Sitting down can cause feelings on restlessness, as the body craves physical activity.  This actually tends to become a bigger issue as you exercise more, since it trains your body to crave exercise.  Since the brain has a way of turning physical sensations into mental/emotional feelings, this sense of needing to move can morph into anxiety.

Most people won’t need to move to alleviate it however; just standing up will do the trick.  You could get a standing desk, but a cheaper and easier option is to just use a small laptop stand that goes on top of your regular desk.

Sensory Deprivation In A Float Tank

If some of these tips sounded odd, this next idea is something out of a science fiction movie.  Isolation tanks are lightless, soundproofed tanks filled with saltwater, heated to skin temperature. Users float in the tank for an hour or so, seeing, hearing, feeling and doing nothing while their minds wander elsewhere.  It’s kind of like that that scene from Star Wars where Luke floats in the vat of healing goo.    

Studies have shown flotation tanks to be highly effective in fighting stress, with regular 40-60 minute sessions offering benefits comparable to other stress-management techniques such as meditation, therapy, and long vacations.  The salt water offers additional benefits, as it’s good for your skin and can even correct magnesium deficiencies, since your body absorbs the magnesium salt via osmosis.  

Sessions usually cost $40-80, but Groupon will often have deals for less.  

If you’re dealing with chronic anxiety, remember that you have options.  You can experiment with herbal remedies, exercise, and even hacking your brain with sensory deprivation.  Or if you really want to have fun treating your anxiety, you can get tied up and masturbate- the choice is yours.