Chris Evans Explains How He Handles Anxiety and Negative Thoughts

Overwhelming, negative thoughts can be deafening and prevent you from functioning, especially if you live with a mental illness. Chris Evans, the actor well-known as Captain America, has some advice for dealing with that “brain noise.” On Saturday, he tweeted a video about his anxiety and “some advice [he] got a long time ago.”

In an interview with the YouTube channel Motivation Madness, Evans was asked what advice he’d give his younger self. The actor raised his finger to his lips and said “shh.” He wasn’t shushing the interviewer. He was talking about his mind.

“It might seem oversimplified, but it’s profound,” Evans said.

Evans explained everyone’s brain is noisy because that’s a part of what it does. There’s always thoughts being made and processed. But these thoughts aren’t always useful.

“The problem is I think, in most of our lives, the root of suffering is following that brain noise and listening to that brain noise and actually identifying with it as if it’s who you are,” he said. “That’s just the noise your brain makes. More often than not it probably doesn’t have much to say that’s going to help you.”

By hushing his own thoughts, Evans acknowledges them and tells them they don’t have control. While this might not work for everyone, it certainly helped Evans nail down what has been the biggest role of his career, Captain America.

“[Shushing is] not quitting,” he said. “It’s not giving up. It’s not washing your hands of the thought. It’s rising above it.”

Evans said he initially turned down the role of Captain America because it was a big commitment with six movies, potentially spanning 10 years of his life. Evans was anxious about the commitment and the lack of control that could come with it, but he started going to therapy and eventually decided to take the role on.

“Maybe the thing you’re most scared of is exactly what you should do,” Evans said. “Maybe this is actually what you should push yourself into. It just started to make sense to me that way.”

Being present while acting is easier for Evans, he said, but it becomes hard when he strives to be present in his real life. “It’s a bit harder when there’s no script, and this is just happening in a chaotic form, but the hunt for the moment — the hunt to be present — that’s the goal. My goal in life is to be present. It’s hard.”

For Evans, being present means recognizing negative thoughts and addressing head-on. “The times I’ve felt my best are the moments that I’ve been able to pull that plug and say, ‘Chris, shh…shh…shh,'” he added.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Anxiety

Collection of three articles about alzheimer's link to anxiety

When an Article Links Anxiety to a Disease You’re Already Terrified Of

What are you supposed to do when, as a person struggling with health anxiety, you come across an article linking anxiety to a disease you’re already terrified of? This is exactly what happened to me, scrolling through the news on my morning break. Suddenly, there it was, as if the words had been highlighted and [...]
Back View of Woman Watching Television

The One Movie That Unexpectedly Comforted My Anxious Mind

The other night I was having some self-care time. Not the aesthetic type where I’m painting my nails, gorging on Cadbury’s Milk Tray and unwinding in a tranquil insufflation of pungent incense. No. I was watching the “Wizard of Oz,” wearing PJ’s that didn’t match and unapologetically crying tears of despondency down my freckly wee [...]
Black and white portrait of a sad young woman, looking to the camera, holding hands near face.

4 Tips for When the New Year Is Difficult

New Years is often thought of as a time of new beginnings where we leave the past year and all its pitfalls behind us and strive to live our best lives possible. For many, though, this time of year doesn’t inspire hope but rather fear and anxiety. Everyone who had rough year in 2017 might [...]
Young beautiful Caucasian woman on bed having headache / insomnia / migraine / stress

The Physical Symptom I Didn't Realize My Anxiety Caused

When I was first diagnosed with anxiety, I had this idea of what it was, but I didn’t really understand all the ways it could impact my life. I knew I felt panicky a lot and cancelled plans because I was too anxious to walk into the building alone or felt unsure about my outfit. [...]