Nervous About the Oscars? 4 Tips for Dealing With Panic Attacks

Oscar Anxiety - Photo - Illustration - H 2017
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Anxiety about that acceptance speech? Worried about losing? Top Hollywood wellness gurus share simple strategies to cope on the way to the Dolby Theatre.

You're in the car headed to the Oscars, and your breath shortens and sweat starts to swamp your Botox-ed glands. Headspace's Andy Puddicombe, Unplug's Suze Yalof Schwartz and Tantris yoga studio founder (and music mogul) Russell Simmons offer their best tips.


Schwartz, CEO and founder of Brentwood's Unplug meditation studio ($24/per class), says: "Close your eyes, breathe through your nostrils and inhale for four seconds. Hold your breath for four seconds. Next, audibly exhale through your mouth for four seconds. Then hold again for four seconds." Schwartz advises performing this each time you pass through a doorway on Oscar Sunday, adding that the technique works because deep breaths send calming signals to the brain.


Headspace app co-founder Puddicombe touts "noting," in which thoughts and feelings are identified and acknowledged, making it easier to let them go as they arise. You can practice the technique by listening to "The Anxiety Pack" on the app ($12.99/month). "It works particularly well for anxiety and doesn't require any practice beforehand," says the London-based former monk.  He also suggests visualizing, or imagining stress and anxiety literally melting away in the sunshine, which "tends to leave people feeling very relaxed."


Simmons prefers a mantra-based meditation, a sound or noise that can be chanted for five to 20 minutes in the car to settle the mind. “I don’t carry weight from anxiety like I used to,” says Simmons, who adds that mediation and yoga changed his life. “Literally I couldn’t even stand on the stage before. Now I can go to sleep on the stage if I want.”


Rubbing lavender oil, which studies find slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure, or orange oil into your palms and breathing in the scent can ease apprehension, says Schwartz. Car temperature — "74 degrees is the golden number at Unplug" — is another tool that can help. Puddicombe says being surrounded by family and friends can keep one grounded: Conversation "will usually mean we are less caught up in anxious thoughts," but he warns that for some, company can be distracting. You might want to focus on preparing for the show or practicing an acceptance speech when you are alone, in the car.

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.