Shawn Mendes' Battle With Anxiety Was So Bad That He Couldn't Sing

By Hayden Brooks

October 12, 2021

Photo: Getty Images

Before the pandemic, Shawn Mendes was in a serious battle with his anxiety.

Speaking with GQ, the pop star, 23, admitted that his struggle impacted him so much that he couldn't sing anymore and the thought of quitting almost crossed his mind. “My personal wellness journey started a couple years ago when I was going through a really dark time,” he told the magazine at an event held by SoulCycle and Flow alkaline water in late September. “I had so much anxiety that I actually couldn’t sing anymore. It was all in my throat, which a lot of men experience. We often experience those emotions as tension in our back, neck, and as pain in our bodies. I couldn’t sing anymore, and I always had a thing about quitting. I didn’t want to quit.”

Mendes explained that the inner conflict prompted him to do some self-reflection. "I was taking it out on other people, like in my relationships. I didn’t want to be that person. So, I started reading. I started meditating and journaling,” he explained, offering a shootout to his coach, Jay Shetty. Working with Shetty brought on a number of practices, including morning meditation and a social media ban until 11 AM. “My goal is to achieve feeling calm and good,” he added. “I do something called the Wim Hof method, which has really changed my life in a lot of ways. It takes over your parasympathetic nervous system and calms you down and allows you to kind of start from scratch and think straight. And it’s meditation, it’s setting boundaries, and it’s holding myself accountable for my own mindset and mental health, and making sure I stick to these things daily.”

He also learned to be in touch with his emotions during the process and, yes, that involves crying. “It is really, really hard for some men to cry,” Mendes admitted. “I will sit there in deep therapy and my eyes will tear up, and I’ll feel the lump in my throat, and it’s still really hard to go there even when you’re trying. I can only cry every four months, and it’s like a huge physical release when it happens."

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