Why Ryan Reynolds Believes Having Anxiety Helps Him In Raising His Four Kids: ‘Grateful for It’ (Exclusive)

Why Ryan Reynolds Believes Having Anxiety Helps Him In Raising His Four Kids: ‘Grateful for It’ (Exclusive)

The actor spoke with 'Deadpool & Wolverine' costar Hugh Jackman about how anxiety has affected his life

Anxiety is something that many people in the world experience – and for Ryan Reynolds, it's given him insight in raising his young children.

Speaking with Hugh Jackman for this week's cover story, which marks PEOPLE's first-ever collectible side-by-side covers featuring the Deadpool & Wolverine stars, the duo addressed the topic of anxiety, which Jackman, 55, notes that Reynolds, 47, been open about coping with.

"Oh mate, you've been pretty open with your anxiety struggles, which I really applaud you for," says Jackman. "Do you find being a dad makes it better or worse?"

"I think it makes it better because your focus is less on yourself and more on your kids. I know you know that too," Reynolds says, as Jackman nods.

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Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively
Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively

Related: Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman: The Deadpool & Wolverine Stars Reveal 'Secret Sauce' to Their 17-Year Friendship

"Now I love that I have anxiety, I love that I've had anxiety," Reynolds continues. "Because when I see my kids experiencing some of that, which is probably genetic, I know how to address it in a way that is compassionate, that actually allows them to feel seen. I know that I can't just fix it. And I can communicate all that stuff to them and with them. I'm always grateful for it."

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Reynolds adds that at work, he's learned to channel his anxiety into a positive.

<p>Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic</p> Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and two of their kids


Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and two of their kids

"My job benefits greatly," he says. "People who have anxiety are constantly thinking into the future. You're constantly, 'What if this happens? What if that happens?' You're always telling yourself stories. So when we're shooting Deadpool & Wolverine, I'm not just shooting the movie, I'm also sitting in the audience as a cautious critic going, 'I don't like that. I don't buy that.' So anxiety creates that ecosystem of awareness that I wouldn't otherwise [have]."

Reynolds is dad to four kids — Betty, 4, Ines, 7, and James, 9, and a one-year-old (whose name has not been revealed) — with wife Blake Lively, 36.

Jackman says, he, too, has begun opening up more with his children Oscar, 24, and Ava, 19, about moments of anxiety.

"I used to be a little bit old-school. I thought, 'Don’t burden them if you are anxious,' " he shares. "Say you’ve got an opening night, or you’re hosting the Oscars—for three weeks before, I go a little distant. And then someone said to me, 'But your kids don’t know that you’ve got the Oscars. Maybe they’re thinking you’re mad with them [or] they’ve done something.'”

Jackman continues: "I had to make an uncomfortable phone call yesterday, and I actually just said to my son, 'I’ve got to make this uncomfortable phone call. I’m a bit nervous about it. If I seem a bit off, that’s why.' And he goes, 'Oh.' And then he said, 'How did the call go, Dad?' I said, 'I feel so much better.'”

Reynolds nods. "And he feels apart of your world."

While appearing on Today earlier this month, Reynolds, who stars in the film IF about forgotten imaginary friends, chatted about whether his kids have their own imaginary friends.

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/guyaroch/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Guy Aroch</a></p> Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds

Guy Aroch

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds

“My daughter Betty, she has a very vivid imagination, so there’s always somebody standing behind me and I turn around quickly like a horror movie and I realize no, it’s just Harvey from the old movie Harvey. It’s a 6 ft 5 rabbit," said Reynolds.

“At least it’s not Deadpool. That would be…that’s NSFK. Not safe for kids,” teased co-host Savannah Guthrie.

“No, I ruined them with that because I have the original suit…like a mold of my body downstairs in the basement," replied Reynolds, as Guthrie joked she's "starting to understand those issues you’re talking about."

“Yeah, exactly. And it was just sort of silhouetted one night and one of my kids went down there [and] screamed bloody murder," Reynolds recalled. "I ran down there, because I forgot it was down there, and I screamed bloody murder. So yeah no, everybody’s pretty well damaged.” 

For more on Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

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