Anxiety is a heavily-used word these days. It seems to crop up in so many conversations. Is it on the rise? A symptom of a sick society? Or is it simply that we’re becoming more aware of our stress levels and where we draw the line?
Anxiety UK describes the condition as a “normal, if unpleasant, part of life.” It’s true–we all suffer from bouts of worrying from time to time. It’s only logical that in the run-up to a big interview, looming deadline, or first date that you’ll bust out the sweats, struggle to sleep, and notice the shakes. That doesn’t make you an anxious person. It makes you human. But what about long-term or generalized anxiety? I’m talking about the kind that becomes part of your routine; sweaty stress that you just can’t seem to shake? Studies have shown that 40% of Australian women suffer from anxiety of depression, at least 1 in 5 Americans suffers from some kind of anxiety disorder, and the UK’s NHS prescribed a record number of anti-depressants last year to deal with generalized anxiety among other mental health conditions. You’ve got to ask yourself: what the hell is going on?
We’re all busy, working hard, and struggling to switch off from it all and make time just for ourselves and our wellbeing. And in the age of social media and celebrity obsession, it can be easy to think that once you reach celebrity status, everything works out and life is golden. It simply isn’t the truth, and even Emma Stone–the highest paid actress in the world–struggles with the grip of anxiety. And it’s so helpful when stars like Stone open up with their stories and advice because it humanizes them. None of us are exempt from mental health disorders, be it anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, or whatever else. They do not discriminate based on gender, status, or background. Realizing this can be very comforting if you’re going through a tough time.
Emma Stone rose to fame in the 2000’s for a variety of hilarious roles that quickly made the nation fall in love with her. Evolving from teen movies like Superbad and Easy A to more complex roles in The Help and La La Land, she has proved her talent to us all. But in a recent interview with Stephen Colbert of The Late Show, she opened up about her lifelong struggle with anxiety and how it’s shaped her into the woman she is today.
For Stone, anxiety reared its ugly head at the tender age of 7, and she began therapy at that time to help. Only a few years later, age 11, she had her acting debut. She stated, “I was a very, very anxious child and I had a lot of panic attacks. I benefited in a big way from therapy–I started it at 7.”
She went on to say that, “Acting and improvisation helped me so much…I still have anxiety to this day but not panic attacks, knock on wood.”
Using her celebrity status for good, Stone partnered with children’s mental health charity, Child Mind earlier this year to make a video talking about anxiety. She said, “sometimes when it’s happening, when I’m in a phase of real turmoil or the anxiety is very strong, it feels like the anxiety is never going to end, and it does.”
What we can take from this is the strong reminder that anxiety cycles and is only temporary. You can always find a way to get through an episode, and the panic will always eventually subside. One of the reasons it can feel so debilitating is the sense of isolation that comes from feeling like you’re the only person on the planet feeling that way at that time. Combine this with guilt (“but my life isn’t as bad as x,y, or z, I’m so selfish for feeling so anxious”), confusion (“Lucy doesn’t feel anxious about tomorrow’s test. Why am I so anxious?”) and fear (“What if I feel this way forever?”), and you’ve got a pretty messy mix of emotions that can be difficult to navigate through.
If you feel anxious, reach out to someone that you feel you can confide in. Be it a family member, friend, or your partner. Remember, it affects us all from time to time and people are generally much more understanding than you might suspect. Then, prioritize self-care. When you’re feeling your lowest, pick one thing you can do to make yourself feel just a smidge better. Then, keep pursuing choices like that. Things that feel good. Look after yourself, and most importantly, listen to yourself when your body is trying to tell you that you need a break. For more advice on where to go from there, check out these useful resources:
Have you ever dealt with anxiety? What helped you?
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