One of the most difficult things about living with mental illness is the isolation and subsequent lack of care, but a new YouTube series is trying to change all that. Cleverly named Hi Anxiety, the series aims to provide accurate, empathetic representations of real-life anxiety stories, Teen Vogue reported. In the series' second episode, actor Lana Condor shares her one trick for managing anxiety, and it's super easy to try.
In her episode, Lana Condor talks about her own strategies for coping with anxiety. For moments of acute anxiety, Condor says, she would teach her younger self — and viewers — to pause and breathe. Find a box or rectangle in the room with you, she says. Use your finger to trace the box: “Breathe in across it,” she says, tracing her finger across the top of the visualized box. “Then you hold it down” — she holds her breath and traces her finger down — “and then you let it out” — she exhales as she traces horizontally across the box — “and then you breathe in,” she says as she completes the traced box by drawing her finger up.
Condor also shares exactly what her anxiety sounds like in her head. Without taking a breath, she relates the experience: “You can like, get nervous and feel like ‘oh my god someone’s not gonna like me I’m gonna say something that’s wrong I’m gonna do something that’s wrong I’m afraid someone’s gonna look at me funny or they don’t think my life is cool’ and then I realized that it’s just” — she pauses for the first time — “it’s anxiety.”
Condor is also careful to point out that anxiety does not exist in a bubble. She talks about a man she sat next to on an airplane who tapped her on the shoulder and said “I really loved Crazy Rich Asians.” The To All The Boys I've Loved Before star told him, “I did too. Um. But I’m not in it.” When he proceeded to tell her about all the time he’d spent in Shanghai, she tells the camera with a soft, familiar sigh that all she could say was, “That’s awesome, I’ve never been. I am Vietnamese.”
A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry reveals that these precise kinds of racial microaggressions contribute directly to decreased mental well-being of Asian Americans. Another 2017 study published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health concludes that white Americans use the "model minority" myth to justify dehumanizing beliefs that Asian American people do not have mental health needs like everyone else.
To cope with these microaggressions and other pressures of daily life, Condor says that she would tell her teenage self, “Lana, it’s okay to say no.” That kind of boundary-setting can increase the one’s own self-image, and self-esteem is very important to managing anxiety long-term.
Condor says that her struggles with eating disorders and body dysmorphia left her feeling alone, but she makes sure viewers know that “you are definitely not alone in that.” And that’s the entire point of the Hi Anxiety series: to make sure that viewers know that they are not alone in their anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.