Brett Eldredge has always seemed to me like an open book. He Instagrams his every move on and off the stage for his 1.4 million followers, and it always looks like he’s living his best life.
But that easy-going nature doesn’t always come easy for Eldredge.
Like millions of people, Eldredge has ongoing struggles with anxiety and panic attacks that started when he was just a boy and have been so bad they’ve forced him to go to a hospital emergency room (The interview can be heard on the 10% Happier podcast.).
“As a kid, I would kind of have a panic attack,” Eldredge told ABC News, “but I didn’t even know what that was. In college, I remember times where I would go to a party, and I would be breaking into sweats, and I’d just (think), ‘Is something wrong with me?’ I would just live in my own trapped box, and no one would know. And that’s the other thing — I’m very good at hiding it.
“I can’t tell you how many times I went to the doctor thinking, ‘There’s something really wrong.’ I’m always looking for somebody else that’s experiencing the same thing as me. It’s because you feel like you’re all alone.”
But even with all the doubts about himself, it turns out that the stage — in front of a crowd — is where Eldredge found something of an antidote for his anxiety.
“I could be a superhero up there once I get there. I’m in my element, in my flow of what I do. I turn into the best version of myself. It’s all the psyche going up to it,” he said. Even when he might struggle with shortness of breath, blurred vision and temporal headaches before he takes the stage, once he walks out, it’s all alright.
Besides singing for a crowd, Eldredge has added a few other elements to his routine to keep himself mentally healthy: he uses mindfulness meditation practice, he does gratitude journaling, he tries to live in the moment, and he hangs out with the most stress-free companion of all, his Weimaraner Edgar.
“I might play in front of 30,000 people, and then I walk off — and this is really hard to explain to people because it’s such a weird experience — but walking off stage and going onto your bus, and you’re by yourself after having the most insane adrenaline rush ever. Everybody’s going crazy: people give you high-fives, and then it’s just you and the walls of a tour bus,” he shared.
“I’d be there by myself. Now I’ve got Edgar to be there with me. It just made me more happy.”