How often are you managing your anxiety?

Today is December 15 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often are you managing your anxiety?” If you look at the backstories of those who navigate the chaos closely, you will quickly discover that almost everyone, at one point or another, experienced anxiety along their life path. Actors Emma Stone and Amanda Seyfried are two such people who have successfully managed their anxiety.

During an interview at the Child Mind Institute in October 2018, Emma Stone opened up about her anxiety issues and her first panic attack as a 7-year-old. According to Stone: "I was at a friend's house, and all of a sudden I was absolutely convinced the house was on fire and it was burning down. I was just sitting in her bedroom and obviously the house wasn't on fire, but there was nothing in me that didn't think we were going to die.”


Soon after her first panic attack, Stone started seeing a therapist who diagnosed her with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). In therapy, she created a book she called, "I Am Bigger Than my Anxiety," in which she drew pictures of a "little green monster that sits on my shoulder." The monster -- her anxiety -- would grow whenever she listened to it and would shrink whenever she didn't.


When Stone began acting at age 11 and discovered improv, she realized for the first time that "my feelings could be productive." Being a part of the "team" at her local children's theater also kept her from isolating herself with her anxiety. "I believe the people who have anxiety and depression are very sensitive and smart. The world is scary and there's a lot that goes on and if you’re attuned to it, it can be crippling. But if you don't let it cripple you and use it for something productive, it's like a superpower."


Today, Stone manages her anxiety with therapy, meditation, being with others and keeping busy. She also makes it a point not to be on social media. She is a private person and has said that having a social media account “would send me into a spin, and I don’t need to be getting constant feedback on who I am."


Prescription medications are another tool others use to manage their anxiety. Actor Amanda Seyfried said in an interview “Yeah. I’m on Lexapro, and I’ll never get off of it,” the actress told Allure magazine regarding the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that’s commonly prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression. “I’ve been on it since I was 19, so 11 years. I’m on the lowest dose. I don’t see the point of getting off of it. Whether it’s placebo or not, I don’t want to risk it. And what are you fighting against? Just the stigma of using a tool? A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category [from other illnesses], but I don’t think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else."


The Mamma Mia! and Les Miserables star has been open about her anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which shares characteristics similar to anxiety disorders. "You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst. But it’s there,” she continued in the interview with Allure. “Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it. I had pretty bad health anxiety that came from the OCD and thought I had a tumor in my brain. I had an MRI, and the neurologist referred me to a psychiatrist. As I get older, the compulsive thoughts and fears have diminished a lot. Knowing that a lot of my fears are not reality-based really helps.”


Like the two actors Boston Celtics power forward Marcus Morris also had to learn how to deal with anxiety. Morris grew up in a North Philadelphia neighborhood rife with gang violence — a place that he says has contributed to his anxiety and depression. In an interview with ESPN Morris said "At that time, I didn't trust any white people because I didn't know any white people. Honestly, I didn't feel like I could trust anybody — not even the people in my neighborhood, who I knew my whole life.”


Growing up, he loved playing basketball with his twin brother, Markieff. But when he joined the NBA and started jumping from team to team, he felt increasingly anxious, turning to sleeping pills and marijuana but not finding much relief. He says that seeing a mental health therapist made him feel calmer, happier, and more productive.


Morris also says that daily meditation helps him feel centered. anxiety and depression. "I know lots of guys who are dealing with anxiety and depression -- not knowing if they have a job next season, not knowing if they're going to get traded. It's so stressful. Everyone is pulling at you. They want your time, your money, a piece of your fame. If you have depression, you should be trying to manage it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you."


Doing so, of course, requires one to have the self-awareness to accept the existence of anxiety, depression, or other feelings.


How often do you manage your anxiety to navigate the chaos and translate one dream after another into reality?