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Anne Hathaway Shared How She Uses Fire as a Coping Mechanism for Stress and Anxiety

Coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety vary from person to person. For some of us, writing down our thoughts, worries and stressors is a good way to get it all out of our heads. For actress Anne Hathaway, she’s found an extra step that helps her.

Hathaway revealed to Town and Country that her coping mechanism doesn’t just include a pen and paper but also fire. Hathaway said she sets a timer on her phone for 12 minutes with a candle nearby.

“You spew it all out. You do not read it,” she said. “The timer goes off, you tear it out of the book, and you light it on fire.”

Journaling can relieve pent up stress and help you let go of negative thoughts, but, for Hathaway, it’s also a symbolic cleansing of negative emotions. “All of this energy, this angst, this rage—everything is smoke,” Hathaway said.

If you’re interested in trying Hathaway’s method, she left a bit of advice on her Instagram:  “If you try the fire thing, please use common sense when burning your pages.”

Research has shown keeping a journal can improve your mood. It can help you keep track of symptoms or triggers for a mood shift or anxiety. You can also use a journal to vent your negative thoughts and then challenge those thoughts through positive self-talk.

Hathaway’s coping mechanism may be unexpected, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. If you like the aspect of destroying your worries on paper but don’t want to mess with fire, you can try ripping the paper up or shredding it.

We were curious what other “unusual” coping skills our mental health community uses to cope with or “get out” negative thoughts, so we asked them to share theirs. Maybe you’ll find one helpful, too.

Here’s what they shared:

  1. “When I catch myself thinking a negative thought, I say to myself, ‘get behind me Satan!’ It works! For lingering thoughts, I decided I am going to start journaling. I plan to write them down and then write challenging thoughts that are positive and constructive.” — Ray R.
  2. “Challenging my negative thoughts by writing poetic miniatures and poems. This helps me verbalize, in a written form, the burden of depression, generalized anxiety, personality issues and a psychotic episode I went through 8 years ago.” — Dagmara C.
  3. “Horror movies! Hear me out — I find a really effective way to get my mind off things, is to distract it with something intense. When watching a horror film, I’m completely immersed in it, meanwhile, knowing I’m safe from what I’m watching. I experience all the intense emotions related to the story, then the movie ends with a conclusion, relieving the feelings I was experiencing from it. It’s a bit of a rush, and I feel much better!” — Elissa M.
  4. “I write myself notes when I am in a positive mindset and save on my phone. ‘This will pass; I am a survivor; I am strong; my feelings are temporary…’ When I am struggling I read them over and over.” — Martha F.
  5. “I listen to podcasts about serial killers. It’s very factual and listening to that and other true crime or unsolved mysteries podcasts make me forget about my own crap and focus on intricate psychology and criminology and other sciences. It’s fascinating and completely drowns out my own anxious thoughts.” — Alyx P.
  6. “Cross stitch. It’s like stabbing things without getting in trouble.” — Jeanie W.
  7. “I do photography, or I go to my neighbors and I garden.” — Bronwen P.
  8. “Fantasy house shopping!” — Sally-Marie B-H.
  9. “I wait until the kids are asleep, put in my earbuds and listen to angry rock and rap. After a good 30 or 40-minute rage music session, I feel much better.” — Manda R.
  10. “I think of a chalkboard and see all the negative words on the board and then visualize them being wiped away. Or I continue to say thank you over and over until the negative feeling or thoughts go away.” — Heather C.

What would you add? 

Image via Creative Commons/Mexicaans fotomagazijn