As many of you know, gymnastics superstar Simone Biles, withdrew from a few recent events at the Tokyo Olympics 2021 stating that she needed to focus on her mental health instead of continuing to compete.
This surprised many fans and spectators, which to me exemplifies the problem in the first place. I believe that if she had sprained her ankle, came down with the flu or had COVID-19 symptoms, my bet is that it wouldn’t cause a stir. However, when it comes to our mental health many still wonder why she didn’t just push through.
As a licensed therapist & personal coach who works with high-performers including elite athletes, I am so blown away by Simone’s decision to focus on her emotional well-being. For an athlete at that level to step away from the sport that she has inevitably sacrificed so much for, showcases her bravery and vulnerability to pay attention to her own needs.
It is so easy for these athletes to be mistaken as superhuman, but trust me they are just as human as the rest of us with a full range of emotions that need to be processed and cared for. The stress of competition alone can trigger a variety of negative emotions, that if left unattended can bubble up at the most inopportune moments as seen with Simone.
What I love is that she was courageous enough to stop and attend to it, instead of pushing through and putting herself in harm’s way, no matter the judgement she would incur from others. It also exposes the greater need for athletes everywhere to attend to their mental health by making it an acceptable and welcomed addition to any training plan.
My mission has always been to destigmatize mental health issues and equalize the time, money, and attention we give to physical fitness. Always remember that your mental health AND physical health are the most important things… without them, we struggle. My hope is that many more athletes have the bravery to share their stories and as a collective, we encourage mental fitness.
Coaching and therapy are excellent ways
to start your mental fitness journey.
I admire Simone for stopping, telling her truth, and engaging in self-care. I also love and admire those who suffer in silence and hope that this causes a ripple in the Olympic community, athletic communities in general, and inspires you too to put your mental health above all else or make it equal to your physical health.
If you would like to start your coaching journey with me, I would be honored. I invite you to a connection call, I have 2 spots left from August and September.
Let’s cheer for Simone on and off the mat!
Mind Your Strength,
Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.