Back in 2013, then-teenager Shawn Mendes had begun to grow a modest following on Vine as he regularly posted videos of himself performing well-known covers.
Fast forward just two short years later and his debut solo album Handwritten debuted in the Billboard 200. Mendes was just one of five singers to debut in the number one spot before the age of 18.
Suddenly he had gone from performing in front of small, intimate audiences to record-breaking, sold-out crowds. And his nerves couldn’t take it.
As of late, Shawn has made the decision to open up more about his struggles with anxiety and share the things that have helped him get through – most notably being the medication beta-blockers.
Beta-blockers are a prescription medication often turned to by performers struggling with stage fright to help them remain calm and appear confident. The medication works by stopping adrenaline and the overwhelming nervous physical symptoms that are the result of it.
Without the adrenaline overload, these performers can do things like sing into the mic with a steady voice and play a keyboard with stable hands.
In 2019, Mendes paused his concert, telling his audience:
“There’s a medicine called beta-blockers and basically it’s a very calm medicine, but what it does is it slows your heart rate down so you can be less stressed out and calm down and breathe, but nevertheless it’s medicine and I want you guys to know that for the last year I’ve been taking the medicine that’s been slowing down my heart rate so that I can be calm on stage.”
Shawn is far from being the first – or the only for that matter – artist to turn to beta-blockers before big performances.
Katy Perry has also been open about how she uses beta-blockers before a show to keep herself “from letting herself down”.
Shawn continued to share what else he does to keep his anxiety in check, including meditating regularly. He also made sure to point out that there’s no shame in admitting you’re nervous, telling his audience:
“If you get nervous it means you care and I care about nothing more in the world than you guys, so that’s why my hands shake.”