Ryan Reynolds Says He Tends to Try to Mask His Anxiety with Work: 'I Fixate on Things'

"I tend to bite off way more than I could or should chew," the Free Guy star said

Ryan Reynolds for WSJ Magazine
Photo: Dan Jackson for WSJ. Magazine

Ryan Reynolds is still learning how to best deal with his anxiety.

While speaking with WSJ. Magazine for its November issue — which hits newsstands on Nov. 13 — the 45-year-old actor said that he tends to overwork himself professionally, as to not allow his mental health to become an issue.

"I tend to bite off way more than I could or should chew. I think maybe it's just that Canadian sensibility: 'Well, I said I was going to, so I have to deliver this,' " he said. "I will do that at the cost of my own well-being sometimes."

"I fixate on things," Reynolds — one of WSJ. Magazine's 2021 Innovator Awards honorees — continued. "That's sort of the engine of anxiety. I lay awake at night, wrapping and unwrapping every possible scenario. I slept at a perfect right angle for so many years."

"I tend to pave over anxiety with work and, to a lesser extent, achievement. You want to tick boxes sometimes," the Free Guy star added to the outlet.

Ryan Reynolds for WSJ Magazine
Dan Jackson for WSJ. Magazine

Earlier this month, Reynolds announced that he is taking "a little sabbatical" from moviemaking when he shared a behind-the-scenes shot from his upcoming Apple TV+ holiday movie Spirited.

Continuing to speak with WSJ. Magazine, the Golden Globe nominee hinted at that decision, telling the publication he is looking to be more "present" within his life.

"These days, my goal is to be as present as I can and not just tick a box just to do it," he explained. "I'm fully embracing and living that right now. It's been amazing."

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Ryan Reynolds for WSJ Magazine
Dan Jackson for WSJ. Magazine

Back in June, Reynolds chatted with Entertainment Tonight and said that his three daughters — James, 6, Inez, 5, and Betty, 2 — whom he shares with wife Blake Lively, inspired him to use his role as a public figure to speak out about mental health.

"Part of it is that I have three daughters at home and part of my job as a parent is to model behaviors and model what it's like to be sad and model what it's like to be anxious, or angry. That there's space for all these things," he said. "The home that I grew in, that wasn't modeled for me really. And that's not to say that my parents were neglectful, but they come from a different generation."

"Part of that is to destigmatize things and create a conversation around [mental health]," Reynolds added. "I know that when I felt at the absolute bottom, it's usually been because I felt like I was alone in something I was feeling. So I think when people talk about it, I don't necessarily dwell on it or lament on it, but I think it's important to talk about it. And when you talk about it, it kind of sets other people free."

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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