Why Chord Overstreet’s Next Project Feels Like TherapyThe ‘Falling for Christmas’ actor knows the importance of talking about mental health.
After starring opposite Lindsay Lohan in Falling for Christmas and reprising his Acapulco role, Chord Overstreet is excited about getting out of work mode and recharging during the holidays. But first, the actor and singer checked in with Wondermind to share what’s on his mind these days. Here, he tells us about his upcoming album (his first full-length project, BTW) and how practicing gratitude helps him with his mental health and navigating panic attacks.
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WM: What are you excited about right now?
Chord Overstreet: I just got a spot back in Nashville. I'm from Nashville, [so I’m] getting settled back here, stepping into my roots, making music, working, peeling back some more layers, and creating a full-length record. [I’m also] working on a couple of development things, like comedy stuff, that are exciting for me.
WM: What else can fans expect from your next album?
CO: I'm doing a deep dive, almost like therapy for myself. I’m trying to be as brutally honest with myself and dive into the recording process [as much] as I can. You tend to filter that from people because there are a lot of things that are really personal, but I’m trying to be truthful and give people a look into my life and have them get to know me a little bit more.
WM: You recently said that your music gives your fans a glimpse into what's going on in your mind, but they don’t know the full you. Does that ever impact how you view your connection with your fans?
CO: I don't necessarily think it's your job to let everybody know the true you, but I do think people love relating to something and hearing that they're not alone in feeling a certain way. I've had anxiety before. I'm sure everybody has ups and downs with that stuff to where [it helps to] normalize it and find out how to deal with it versus trying to ignore it, and then you're stuck on an airplane having a panic attack.
WM: What encourages you to open up to other people?
CO: Having a really great support system [helps]. When I used to have a lot of panic attacks, I didn't know what was going on. I just thought I was dying, and I couldn't breathe. I had a lot of stuff that I hadn't faced, hadn't dealt with, hadn't purged and got out of my system, and [I] was holding onto [that] without really even knowing it. In that scenario, the biggest thing that was helpful for me was having somebody that used to have a lot of panic attacks walk me through that. Having the dialogue and having the openness to where it's OK to discuss it [is important].
It’s definitely being able to figure out ways to help settle your mind, deal with it, talk about it, write stuff down, and release things. Exercise is a huge help in taking your mind off of overly focusing on one thing. Just get it out of your system and talk to people who know what that’s like.
WM: Do you mind sharing how you realized you were experiencing a panic attack? Was it that person who helped you?
CO: I think the first panic attack I ever had, a lot of that was due to stress, a lack of sleep, dehydration, and I drank too much coffee. I remember I was sitting on the couch watching football on Sunday. I had a double espresso latte or something—just a lot of caffeine—and all of a sudden, I couldn't breathe. I pretty much passed out.
I spent the next two or three hours figuring it out and listening to meditation breathing exercises. But I didn't know what was going on—it just came out of nowhere [when I was] with friends. Then one of my friends there was like, “Oh, I've had a lot of panic attacks. You're having a panic attack.”
I had a lot of different moving pieces in my life at the time, and I think that had something to do with it. But when it hit me, I was just like, I don't know what this is. I feel like I'm dying.
WM: Do you practice any breathing techniques these days to help manage that?
CO: I usually will do breathing exercises and things to try to settle myself and ground myself. That's been a huge, huge help. … I've usually had a lot of panic attacks on flights, which is not fun 'cause you can't do anything to escape that. I’ve had it to where all of a sudden my vision goes out. To [prevent that], I have to recognize it early and go into breathing exercises.
More recently, I've gotten into a rhythm of focusing more on gratitude, doing it as a practice and getting up to where I don't have those issues the same way I used to. A lot of it, I think, is [about having a] healthy lifestyle and [getting] sleep too.
WM: What aspect of your mental health would you describe as a work in progress?
CO: I think my own narrative is different than the narrative that's out there. I would say gratitude is the biggest thing that I really need to focus on. I think we all tell ourselves a narrative that's not true, you know? And if we're telling it to ourselves, we [think], How can it not be true? We're the biggest believers in it. I think it only gets worse when you have all this social media stuff in your face all the time and you have so much information. So the biggest thing for me is trying to practice shutting that part off and being present and not being in a billion different places in the world at once. That takes a toll.
WM: What mental health advice do you wish you could give to your younger self?
CO: I would probably get in with a therapist earlier and not be afraid to talk about things that might seem difficult at first. There are a lot of things that we hold [on to] 'cause we don't want to make people feel uncomfortable. Then those things are not addressed for a long time. You sweep stuff under the rug, [and] it comes back to bite you in a way where you don't really recognize what’s going on until it hits you in the face.
Being able to talk about things and be open makes you a better person. It makes you a better writer. It makes you more creative. … And I think creativity is a really cool place to operate from.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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