What are the signs someone needs a mental health break?
Olympic gymnast Simone Biles hit her emotional breaking point at the Tokyo Olympic games, withdrawing from the women’s team final and the individual all-around competition after realizing her “mental’s not there.”
Physically, she feels fine, she said. Mentally, not as fine.
“We had a workout this morning, it went OK,” Biles said at a news conference after announcing her decision to withdraw. “And then just that five-and-a-half hour wait or something, I was just like shaking, could barely nap. I’ve just never felt like this going into a competition before.
“Warmup in the back went a little bit better. But then once I came out here, I was like no, mental’s not there, so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself,” Biles said.
About two months earlier, tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open after she was fined for declining to take part in a media conference after a match.
“The truth is I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” Osaka wrote. “Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I want to apologize to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.”
Both women made very public decisions to back out of huge career opportunities in order to protect their mental health. So, what does this mean for the non-athletes of the world, who can also face intense pressure to perform and can get just as stressed out?
It means mental health matters. We all need to make time to focus on it.
Because good mental health doesn’t just happen. It needs attention and care just like your physical health.
It’s easy to get bogged down by the stress of daily life, but long-term stress can weaken your immune system and lead to physical health problems or make existing problems worse.