Yes, Reading Erotica Can Ease Anxiety—Would You Try It?

by Michelle Guerrere
PHOTO:

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Have you ever experienced a panic attack? If so, did your palms get sweaty? Did you feel lightheaded or did your throat tighten up? Even if you didn't have all of these symptoms, there’s nothing that feels good about a panic attack (and it’s not something you’d wish on even your worst enemy). The feeling like it’s the end of the world is the result of anxiety, which plagues just over 3 per cent of people in the U.S. alone. An estimated 6.8 million adults have generalized anxiety disorder; and also important to note, women are two times more likely to be affected.

Although natural breathing exercises, meditation and medication can help our anxiety, a new article on Glamour.com suggests a slightly more out-of-the-box approach for people to ease their nerves: reading erotica. The author mentions a woman called Sarah Jane who writes on her blog that she was able to get her panic disorder under control by picking up one of her favourite erotic novels.

Sarah Jane insists that she was able to interrupt her stress and anxiety by substituting it with a similar physical response, like an increased heart rate, but this time it had positive feelings rather than negative. “A few minutes before I pick up one of my favourite erotic novels, [my] racing heart is perceived as very scary,” she writes. “But once I start reading, it’s just arousal.”

There is a scientific reason for this change in feelings, and it’s known as “misattribution of arousal.” In this situation, Sarah Jane searched for reasons why she was agitated or excited, and ended up flip-flopping her negative feelings into something positive.

In a well-known study, scientists found that their male participants were likelier to pursue a woman on an unsafe bridge than if they saw her on a safe one. The theory says that the men thought they were just more sexually attracted to the women on the unsafe bridge, but in reality, they were more attracted to the women because they were afraid. The key takeaway is that we can trick our minds into thinking we’re experiencing pleasure (rather than pain or anxiety) with Sarah Jane's method. As far as natural remedies for anxiety go, this one may be the most enjoyable one yet.

Be sure to read about therapist-approved hobbies to lessen anxiety, and tell us what you think about this natural remedy in the comments.  

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