US Gymnast Simone Biles Offers an Important Lesson About Mental Health

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by Tito Oye |

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The Summer Olympics in Tokyo are in full swing, and even with the multiple hurdles that COVID-19 has created, I am happy the games are taking place.

I’m not hugely into sports like many people are, but whenever a large event like the Olympics or the World Cup is taking place, I’m always tuned in. There is an eight-hour time difference between the U.K., where I live, and Japan, yet I still try my best to keep up.

Watching the competitions has brought back some sense of normality for me. Instead of seeing constant news reports about the pandemic, the headlines have been filled with more positive news about athletic achievements. For me, this is a distraction from the hardships I’ve faced in the last few years, and it reminds me of how life used to be before COVID-19.

I’m also reminded of the things that make humans — along with all of our differences — so amazing. Thousands of athletes are competing in the games, and all possess a range of fascinating skills in their field. The Olympic games highlight the beauty of diversity.

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For example, I am in awe of the strength displayed by the elite U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, who has demonstrated her abilities time and time again. During the women’s team and all-around finals, Biles withdrew from competition because it was affecting her mental health. (She later announced, to the joy of fans, that she would return to compete in the balance beam final.)

This prompted a mixed public reaction. Many disapproved of her decision, saying she was somehow unworthy of being in the Olympic games. I and many others disagree. For me, Biles’ decision to put her mental health first is a sign of strength and something to learn from.

Never be afraid to put yourself first 

I can only imagine the pressure she faced and how stressed she must have felt. It’s a lot for anyone to deal with, as too much pressure for anyone is unhealthy. If you are in a tense situation that is causing you stress, you have every right to take a step back and remove yourself from the stressful situation. Do what is best for you.

It is uncommon to hear about athletes dropping out of major competitions due to mental health. However, with her decision, Biles has shown that irrespective of physical abilities, if you are not mentally ready to partake in an activity, you should avoid it! There is an undeniable link between one’s mental and physical health, so the decision to pull out of competition was a responsible one.

We need to pay more attention to our mental health and give it as much priority as our physical health. If we don’t protect our mental well-being, it could cause an overall deterioration of our health.

In my experience with sickle cell disease, I have noticed a link between my emotional state and my health. When under large amounts of stress, I am more likely to experience a sickle cell crisis, so it is imperative that I remove myself from stressful situations whenever I can.

Have you noticed a link between your mental and your physical health? Please share in the comments below. 

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Note: Sickle Cell Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell disease.

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