Marvel star Karen Gillan on managing her mental health: 'I invite all of the anxiety in'

'It may sound weird, but I’ve been researching the psychology of it'
Karen Gillan
Photo credit Amy Sussman/Getty Images

While she may have superhuman strength in her role on the big screen, Guardians of the Galaxy actress Karen Gillan (Nebula) says when it comes to her time off-screen- she struggles heavy human emotion just like everyone else.

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“It’s been easier to ignore my body than it has been to confront the situation,” Karen told Women’s Health of dealing with anxious thoughts. “I’ve repressed the feeling instead of taking it seriously and listening to my body. And I’m just now turning that around.”

As she found herself struggling with anxiety, especially while working, Gillan says it’s taken a whole new mindset, self awareness and new thought process to beat her anxious thoughts.

“Some days I don’t feel anxious at all; then others, I’m like, ‘I can’t do this. This is insane. This is a big, huge movie and I have to do this in front of people. There’s no way,’” she said. “I literally think I can’t do it. That’s how bad it gets. You can’t really reason with someone when they’re in that state of mind. [To deal], I invite all of the anxiety in. It may sound weird, but I’ve been researching the psychology of it.”

Shifting her thought process isn’t the only steps Gillan takes to manage her mental health, she’s also finds it important to prioritize her physical health which helps her stabilize her emotions.

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“I didn’t realize how much better I felt mentally until I stopped,” she shared of stopping exercie during the pandemic. “I didn’t feel as on top of the world as I normally do if I’m regularly working out and eating well. I was foggy and down. And the anxiety is worse when I’m in a down state of mind.”

Gillan admits finding balance is a never-ending journey for her, and one she doesn’t mind spending time on to perfect as mental health is the center axis of many aspects in her life. Read more about her mental health habits here.

Audacy's I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

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