Anxiety is on the rise. So much so that it’s gained recognition for being a serious mental health disorder over the last few years.
And like many ailments that seem to be tied to modern living, people are turning to natural remedies to treat it.
Those who are choosing to avoid mainstream medicines, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, have often ended up turning their attention towards CBD at some point.
But as evidence mounts over the many real benefits of CBD, some unusual strategies for dealing with anxiety are coming to light. Like the classic Game Boy game Tetris.
While it may seem an odd recommendation to treat anxiety with Tetris, there is evidence behind the claim.
How can Tetris help with anxiety?
Research carried out by Kate Sweeny, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, suggested Tetris can ease people through periods of anxiety by helping people reach a mental state known as “flow”.
Sweeny explained: “The state of flow is one where you’re completely absorbed or engaged in some kind of activity.
“You lose your self-awareness, and time is just flying by.”
The study was published in 2018 in the journal Emotion and focused on people who were waiting for uncertain, potentially life-altering news.
It found a game of Tetris could help these people cope.
Sweeny collaborated with a group of more than 300 college students and told them their peers would be evaluating how attractive they are.
Sweeny said: “I know, it’s kind of a curse, but we found it’s a really effective way to get people stressed out.”
While they awaited their attractiveness scores, the participants were told to play Tetris.
Some of the participants played a slow, easy version of the game which bored them. Some played a challenging, fast version which frustrated them. Everyone else played the classic version which adapts to each player’s individual skill level.
At the end of the study, all participants experienced a degree of worry, but the third group reported slightly high levels of positive emotions and slightly slower levels of negative emotions.
Sweeny said: “It wasn’t a huge difference, but we think it’s noticeable. And over time, it can add up.”
Other research has suggested regular doses of flow can boost a person’s mood and help them manage stress.
While Tetris was shown as a reliable way to achieve flow, there’s no saying another video game wouldn’t work too.
And for people who’d rather put down their digital device, there’s no saying other games, such as chess.
Other ways of accessing ‘flow’ include sports like cycling, swimming and running. Surfing, sky-diving and other such activities are more extreme ways of attaining flow.
How can CBD help with anxiety?
While some studies suggest having anxiety is a factor in determining cannabis use, others have shown specifically that CBD can help manage symptoms.
A small study published in 2010 found cannabidiol (CBD’s full name) reduced symptoms of social anxiety in people with social anxiety disorder. Brain scans of participants showed changes in blood flow to the regions of the brain linked to feelings of anxiety.
Not only did the participants feel better, they also changed the way their brains responded to anxiety.
This study, published in 2011, also found cannabidiol could reduce social anxiety. As part of this study researchers focused specifically on cannabidiol to treat anxiety associated with public speaking.
This 2014 study found CBD oil had anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in an animal model.
Other ways to reduce anxiety
A natural supplement people may want to consider for anxiety is GABA. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid and neurotransmitter in the brain that, when in short supply, can worsen anxiety.
A review published in 2015 found supplements with GABA may help replace lost GABA.
Bacopa, a staple plant in Ayurvedic medicine, has been shown to reduce cortisol – the stress hormone, which can play a role in anxiety.
In a 2017 study, passionflower, which is common in the UK, was found to be just as effective as a mainstream anxiety prescription.
Other well known ways to reduce anxiety include exercise, breathing techniques, meditation, avoiding processed food and excess sugar, as well as ample fresh air and sunshine.
The point is, is that’s there’s no one way to treat anxiety. Sure, CBD and cannabis is a great tool, but there are others. Like a simple 90’s Game Boy game, an amino acid, or a common flower.
Having many effective tools on hand is only going to help deal with anxiety, and combining them can even increase their efficacy. So