Y’know that feeling when you may or may not be having a heart attack, you feel like you’ve eaten nothing but sandbags for days and it feels like a cactus may be growing in your brain?? That’s how anxiety feels to me. To call it crippling would be an understatement. Coffee and cigarettes do not help; alcohol only helps if there’s a funnel involved. So how do you get rid of it without resorting to hard-core drug abuse or a visit to your friendly neighborhood inpatient psychiatric institution? I wish I knew! I do sort of know of a few tricks to consider trying before resorting to more drastic or self-destructive methods.
1. watch BBC Life, or really anything David Attenborough narrates. It makes you remember how many creatures are existing right at the same moment you are, and seeing their challenges and the way they innately know exactly what to do to continue living will help you realize what an inconsequential speck you actually are. Most likely nothing is trying to literally eat you, so you can at least take comfort in that.
2. read Albert Camus’ Lyrical and Critical Essays. This collection of short essays is almost guaranteed to make you feel happy about your sadness, and see the lingering sadness in all happiness simultaneously. All of life seems most beautiful when Camus is the one writing about it.
3. Touch somebody. preferably someone you know, but if you’re trying my former tip involving alcohol and a funnel, a stranger will do too! Oxytocin is a miracle drug for stress and anxiety. The best part is that the dealer is always available… because it’s your brain! But, the currency your inner drug dealer prefers is human touch.
4. Sit in the sun, or if you can, go to the beach. The ocean has been scientifically proven to have a calming effect and to facilitate sleep. If it’s dark, no problem! Just stay awake all night to the light of your laptop manically reading government documents pertaining to the Monica Lewinsky scandal until the sun comes back up! Now there’s a woman who REALLY knows anxiety, a lot better than you or I probably ever will. if she could survive being internationally labeled “The Blow Job Queen” and still show up on tv looking babelier than ever, I believe there may be hope for us too.
5. Put your phone away. Chances are it’s part of the reason you feel so anxious. In fact, the number of people who experience anxiety in “The Digital Age” has exploded in comparison to pre-internet pre-iphone days. With the constant availabilty of the internet, we have the advent of “FOMO”, along with the added pressure of the fact that anything theoretically can be learned or accomplished at any time, so when you’re not accomplishing things, you feel ten quadrillion times worse about it. However, my sociological internet theories are too abundant to expound upon in this paragraph, and tend to make me sound at best like a luddite, and at worst like a paranoid person who probably spends way too much time reading Psychology Today.
6. When all else fails, meditate. If you’re one of those people who cringes internally at the very mention of the word “chakra” (you’re in good company, believe me) try it Bukowski’s way and simply lay down and stare at the ceiling for awhile. It’s surprisingly soothing to not be taking in any sort of stimulus– without it your mind often finds a way to wander to a more pleasant place on its own. Try arguing with yourself, pretend you’re talking to yourself as somebody who would say the exact opposite things you’re saying to yourself in your head (this isn’t schizophrenic, i swear!) also, sometimes saying some of the things you’re worried about out loud to yourself helps you realize how ridiculous you actually sound, and how little so many of your current concerns might matter in a month.