She opened up about how she copes with anxiety in a video for the Child Mind Institute's #WeThriveInside mental health awareness campaign.

By Arielle Tschinkel
May 04, 2020
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If you've been dealing with anxiety during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you're not alone. Emma Stone, who has been candid about her lifelong struggle with anxiety, recently shared how she keeps her mental health in check—pandemic or no pandemic.

ICYDK, Stone has previously been open about being a "very, very, very anxious" person in the past. "I had a lot of panic attacks," she told Stephen Colbert on The Late Show back in 2017. "I benefited in a big way from therapy. I started at 7 [years old]."

While Stone told Colbert that anxiety will "always" be part of her life, it seems like she's developed healthy, effective strategies for managing her mental health over the years. In a new video for the Child Mind Institute's #WeThriveInside campaign—which aims to support children and young adults as they manage anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis—Stone (who also serves as a board member for the institute) talked about how she takes care of herself mentally, particularly while under quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic. (These celebrities have been vocal about mental health issues, too.)

Stone's first go-to strategy for anxiety: reading. In her #WeThriveInside video, the actress said she's been using her time at home to discover new authors, sharing that it's been "really fun to be introduced to a new world that [she] didn't know about before."

The benefits of reading for your mental health are no joke. Any bookworm will tell you that reading can be super relaxing, but a 2015 review of hundreds of studies exploring the link between reading and mental health, carried out by the UK charity Reading Agency, confirmed the strong relationship between reading for pleasure and improved mental well-being (including reduced symptoms of depression, as well as increased empathy and improved relationships with others).

Stone also shared that meditation helps her anxiety. She said that simply sitting for 10 or 20 minutes a day and repeating a mantra works for her, though she also noted that you can count your breaths if that's more up your alley. (Mantras are often used in transcendental meditation.)

Meditation (of any kind) can be very powerful in battling anxiety, as the practice can positively influence activity in parts of the brain responsible for thinking and emotions, and, more specifically, worrying. "Through meditation, we train the mind to stay in the present moment, to notice an anxious thought as it arises, see it, and let it go," Megan Jones Bell, Psy.D., chief science officer for Headspace, previously explained to Shape. "What changes here from the typical response to anxiety is that we aren't holding onto those these thoughts or reacting to them. We step back from these anxious thoughts and see the bigger picture. This can help us feel more calm, clear, and grounded." (Related: 10 Mantras Mindfulness Experts Live By)

Another one of Stone's go-to strategies for anxiety: dancing all around her house, "blasting music, and just getting [the stress] out," she said in the video. "Any exercise at all really seems to help me, but dance is my very favorite," she explained.

You already know that exercise is a reliable way to help manage mental health. But dance, in particular, can boost mental health in its own unique ways, thanks to the synchronization of music and movement. That combo of music and movement—whether it's achieved with a formal foxtrot or by putting on your favorite Britney Spears songs and bopping around the house like Stone—can light up the brain's reward centers, helping to reduce stress and keep the brain sharp while boosting levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, according to research compiled by the Mahoney Neuroscience Institute at Harvard. (Related: This Fitness Instructor Is Leading "Socially Distant Dancing" On Her Street Every Day)

Lastly, Stone shared that she often copes with anxiety by doing what she calls a "brain dump."

"I write down anything that I'm worried about—I just write and write and write," she explained. "I don't think about it, I don't read it back, and I usually do this before bed so [these worries or anxieties] don't interfere with my sleep. I find it's really helpful for me to just get it all out on paper."

Many mental health experts are big proponents of Stone's worry journaling strategy for anxiety. But it doesn't have to be part of your bedtime routine like Stone. You can write down your worries whenever they're weighing on your mind. "I usually recommend that people use a journal about three hours before bed," Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist specializing in sleep disorders, previously told Shape. "If they are journaling just before lights out, I ask them to create a gratitude list, which is more positive." (Here are some gratitude journals that'll help you appreciate the little things.)

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