When Ellie Goulding's pop career first took off in 2010, she wasn't living the glamorous life you'd expect of a rising singing sensation.
In a recent essay for Well + Good, Goulding shared what it's like to have anxiety and panic attacks since she found fame — and how she learned to manage it through exercise.
Although Goulding was overjoyed to finally share her music with the world, it was a lot to handle all by herself, living alone in London. She started having panic attacks, which could be triggered by basically anything, she revealed. In fact, she recalled covering her face with a pillow when she walked from her car into the recording studio.
"My new life as a pop star certainly wasn't as glamorous as all my friends from home thought," Goulding wrote. "Secretly, I was really struggling physically and emotionally."
Goulding also revealed something that surprised us: She didn't feel confident about her singing ability. She credits that lack of self-confidence as another contributing factor to her panic attacks. She was afraid that she wasn't as good of a singer as people expected, and as her career took off, her panic attacks, self-doubt, and fear grew, too.
"Last year, I was asked to perform at the Grammys — a massive honor but, as you can imagine, pretty nerve-wracking. In the moments before I walked on that stage, I gave myself a good talking-to," the 30-year-old singer wrote. "I was annoyed for being paralyzed with nerves every time I was about to perform on television. I told myself that this was exactly where I was supposed to be and if other people believed in me, I had to start believing in myself."
That mini pep talk seemed to help, but not as well as another anxiety management technique she discovered.
Enter Adrenaline, Exit Anxiety
As evident from her Instagram presence, Goulding loves a good workout. It just so happens that exercising seemed to be as good for her mental health as it was for her body. She began boxing and kickboxing to help manage her anxiety.
"I love that extra kick of adrenaline," she wrote. "Keeping fit doesn't mean spending hours at a gym; the key is to find a workout you really love. The more I started doing classes and also working out with my trainer, Faisal Abdalla, the better I felt about myself."
"It wasn't about any change in my outward appearance; it was about seeing and feeling myself get better and stronger," she wrote. "It carried over into other areas of my life, and now I truly feel that exercise — however you like to work out — is good for the soul."
That's not to say that Goulding no longer gets nervous before a big gig or event, it's just more manageable now that she's found solace in exercise.
"I still feel nervous before performing, or have pangs of anxiety from time to time, but it's not crippling like it used to be," Goulding wrote. "It took time, but I've accepted that everyone feels nervous before they perform — it's not just me. And now that I believe in myself more, that confidence comes through, whether I'm working out, singing onstage, or just hanging out by myself at home."
[h/t Well + Good]