In the latest issue of Elle UK, Kristen Stewart opened up about her anxiety struggles and history of panic attacks. And it’s not the first time she’s talked about it. Last year, she revealed to Marie Claire that her anxiety was even debilitating at times. “Between ages 15 and 20, it was really intense,” Stewart says. “I was constantly anxious.”
As the most recent in a string of celebrities (like Kristen Bell and Demi Lovato) getting real about mental health issues, Stewart’s sharing her experience to show fans that just because she models for Chanel doesn’t mean her life is without challenges. And, though she says she’s grown out of her anxiety, she’s hoping to help others by sharing her story.
Read on for five things we learned from Stewart’s openness about anxiety.
1. Anxiety can come from a desire for control
While discussing her most anxious times, Stewart admits she was a “control freak.” “If I didn’t know how something was going to turn out, I would make myself ill, or just be locked up or inhibited in a way that was really debilitating,” she says. “I would have panic attacks…I literally always had a stomach ache. And I was a control freak and I couldn’t anticipate what was going to happen in a given situation, so I’d be like, ‘Maybe I’m going to get sick’… It’s kind of remarkable.”
2. Being more open and honest can make you happier
In the past, Stewart would hide her personal life (as much as she could, at least). Since coming out publicly with her girlfriend Alicia Cargile, things have gotten much better. “I was like, ‘Actually, to hide this provides the implication that I’m not down with it or I’m ashamed of it, so I had to alter how I approached being in public,” she says. “It opened my life up, and I’m so much happier.”
3. It helps to throw yourself into your work
Stewart found that being involved in—and grateful for—her work helped to diminish any sense of anxiety. “I have a really strong sense of identity when I’m working,” says Stewart. “If I’m having a bad day or something personal, or existential, or hormonal—if anything brings me down, I’m lucky if I have to go to work that day. And it could be anything.”
4. Bad times don’t last forever
You know that saying, “This too shall pass?” It’s good to remember in times of distress. “I obviously hope everything going on right now will work out, but I am confident that life is good and I’ll be okay whatever happens,” says Stewart. “So in moments when that is cloudy and I feel saturated and unable to engage in how good life can be, however consuming those feelings are, they are so momentary.”
5. Time heals all, as they say
With age comes newfound wisdom. Stewart got better at handling her anxiety as she got older, just as we all learn how to better deal with our problems with time. In Marie Claire, the actress discusses how she learned to “manage the speeding train of her brain, erect healthy emotional boundaries, [and] to know what she doesn’t know” after 16 years in the business. We are constantly learning, after all.
Getting enough sleep can always help. Read Arianna Huffington’s expert tips for catching enough zzz’s. Then try this outdoor meditation to relieve some stress.