Ryan Reynolds shares his technique for dealing with crippling anxiety

Ryan Reynolds is opening up about living with debilitating anxiety. Yep, even the onetime Sexiest Man Alive has a hard time coping with the stresses of life. In an interview with the New York Times, the "Deadpool" star candidly discussed his longtime history with the psychiatric disorder.

Ryan Reynolds explains how he deals with anxiety. Credit: (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

"I have anxiety. I've always had anxiety," the 41-year-old said. "Both in the lighthearted 'I'm anxious about this' kind of thing, and I've been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun."

According to the Times, Reynolds gets "racked by dread and nausea" before those talk-show appearances that he makes look so effortless. And back in the late '90s, when he starred on the ABC show "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place," he would do an audience warmup to redirect his panic, or "the energy of just wanting to throw up."

Reynolds explains that his stress stems from childhood and his complicated relationship with his late father, who he refers to as "the stress dispensary in our house." Reynolds, the youngest of four, tried hard to keep the house clean and the lawn mowed to keep "screaming matches" at bay. "I became this young, skin-covered micromanager," he said. "When you stress out kids, there's a weird paradox that happens, because they're suddenly taking on things that aren't theirs to take on."

In the no-holds-barred interview he also confessed that his early 20s were tumultuous, referring to them as his "real unhinged phase" when he used substances a little too much. "I was partying and just trying to make vanish in some way," he said. The Times explained that he "frequently awoke in the middle of the night, paralyzed by anxiety, agonizing about the future," and that he got through it by "self-medicating."

So how does he deal with all the anxiety and stress? One tool he uses is meditation, which is scientifically proven to ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression and pain. Reynolds' meditation tool of choice is an anti-anxiety app called Headspace, which teaches you how to meditate in just 10 minutes per day, allowing you to focus on the issues (health, relationships, work) that matter most to you.

And last but not least, he realizes that the second he walks onstage the anxiety will lift. "When the curtain opens I turn on this knucklehead, and he kind of takes over and goes away again once I walk off set," he said. "That's that great self-defense mechanism. I figure if you're going to jump off a cliff, you might as well fly."

Reynolds' confession is a good reminder that just because a person appears confident, cool and collected, it doesn't mean he or she isn't struggling on the inside. In fact, it's likely that several people you interact with on a daily basis suffer from anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 18 percent (or 40 million people) grapple with it every year. Fortunately, there are several tools to deal with it. Here are 21 stress-reducing techniques.

Read more: 12 Celebrities Who Struggle With Anxiety and Depression

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