The supermodel reveals in her new memoir that she’s battled panic attacks — joining celebrities like Kevin Love and Kendall Jenner.
Gisele Bundchen’s life hasn’t always been picture-perfect.
The supermodel reveals in her upcoming memoir “Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life” that she used to suffer panic attacks that were so severe, she contemplated suicide.
“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” Bundchen, 38, told People this week. Her first panic attack hit during a rough flight in 2003, which developed into a claustrophobic fear of other small spaces. “I had a wonderful position in my career … so I was really beating myself up. Like, ‘Why should I be feeling this?’ I felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel bad,” she added. “But I felt powerless. Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe, which is the worst feeling I’ve ever had.”
Eventually Bundchen, who is married to NFL quarterback Tom Brady, began suffering panic attacks at home, too. “I actually had the feeling of, ‘If I just jump off my balcony, this is going to end, and I never have to worry about this feeling of my world closing in,’” she said. She decided to share her vulnerabilities because, “I think I am who I am because of those experiences.”
Hey, even Disney princesses panic. Patti Murin, who plays Anna in “Frozen” on Broadway, revealed that she missed an April performance after suffering a severe anxiety attack.
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So last night I called out of the show because I had a massive anxiety attack in the afternoon. It had been building up for a while, and while the past month has been incredible, all of the ups and downs and stress and excitement really takes a toll on my mental health. I’ve learned that these situations aren’t something to “deal with” or “push through.” Anxiety and depression are real diseases that affect so many of us. It requires a lot of rest and self care to heal every time it becomes more than I can handle in my daily life. While I hate missing the show for any reason at all, Disney has been nothing but supportive of me as I navigate my life and work, and I’m so grateful to them. Just remember that you’re not alone, your feelings are real, and this is not your fault. Even Disney princesses are terrified sometimes.
“So last night I called out of the show because I had a massive anxiety attack in the afternoon,” the 37-year-old star wrote on Instagram. She said that “all of the ups and downs and stress and excitement really takes a toll on my mental health,” and noted that, “I’ve learned that these situations aren’t something to ‘deal with’ or ‘push through.’
NBA star Kevin Love, 30, also disclosed a terrifying panic attack he experienced during a game against the Atlanta Hawks last November in “The Players’ Tribune” earlier this year.
“I felt my heart racing faster than usual… [and the] air felt thick and heavy,” Love wrote. “I ran back to the locker room… It was like my body was trying to say to me, ‘You’re about to die.’ I ended up on the floor in the training room, lying on my back, trying to get enough air to breathe … Everyone is going through something that we can’t see.”
And Kendall Jenner confessed in a interview for the February edition of Harper’s Bazaar that she “literally [wakes] up in the middle of the night with full-on panic attacks.” She insinuated that anxiety could partly be attributed to being thrust into the limelight at a young age. “If something isn’t going the way I planned, I freak out,” she said. “Some days I just want to go live on a farm and not talk to anyone and just exist in the middle of nowhere.”
Millions of Americans can relate, as a 2017 American Institute of Stress report found that 40% of workers said their job was “very or extremely stressful.” One-fourth said work is the No. 1 stressor in their lives.
“Constant preoccupation with job responsibilities often leads to erratic eating habits and not enough exercise, resulting in weight problems, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels… [and] can also accelerate the onset of heart disease, including the likelihood of heart attacks,” the American Psychological Association warns.
Everyone reacts to stress differently, added Dr. Curtis Reisinger, the chief of psychiatry at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York. And it’s not a threat to be taken lightly: It’s “how hives occur, stomach distress, butterflies, throwing up,” and worse, he said.
If you too are suffering from job stress that’s making you sick, here’s how to get it under control.
1. Use your “Do Not Disturb” setting: Reisinger says that the constant barrage of emails, texts, and phone calls many of us experience after-hours is overwhelming. So set a regular time — perhaps 9 p.m. — to switch your device onto silent mode, thereby liberating yourself from its obtrusive “dings and dangs.”
2. Minimize stress from others: “Stress is contagious,” Reisinger warns. People whose lives are in constant bedlam “can suck you in and you can become part of their story.” To combat this, quietly draw the line with friends and coworkers. For instance, “you don’t have to say, ‘I don’t want to be around you,’” Reisinger says, but instead, try: “I’ve got something that’s private to do and I’ve got to attend to it. I’ll get back to you at this time.”
3. Go for a walk: Reisinger says that just spending a few minutes walking around your office or stepping outside for fresh air can help you escape from the minefield of workday stress. “Go take a five minute break. Walk down the hall in your building [or] go out on the balcony,” and focus on something else.
4. Get away: Turn an upcoming weekend into a mini vacation, Reisinger advises. Take a drive to a local spot, or take a recreational day trip. Or cash in on all your vacation days at once to go on a journey — research has shown that 55% of workers who return from positive vacations come back with higher levels of energy than before they left.
5. Get a better night’s sleep: Design a bedtime ritual that can help you sleep, as getting restorative shut-eye reduces stress and weight gain, and lowers blood pressure. Dr. Steven Feinsilver, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, suggests stopping cell phone use at least an hour before bedtime. “No personal electronics, no phone, no computer,” he said. Take a hot shower to decompress, instead — or ease your mind by writing out your next day’s to-do list.
This article was originally published on Jan. 15th, 2018, and has been updated with Gisele Bundchen.
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