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Like the rest of the world, our eyes have been on the Olympics these past few weeks. Watching the world’s greatest athletes compete after training for years is truly inspiring. However, this strenuous training regime and the intense pressure put on these athletes to win, no matter what, can come with the price of damaging one’s mental health. In spite of this intense pressure to perform, Simon Biles showed the world this week that mental health should be more of a priority than another gold medal. 

Biles’ decision is only the most recent athlete to come forward to speak about mental health. Other athletes like Michael Phelps, Lindsey Vonn, Aly Raisman among countless others have spoken out about their mental health issues, which has helped athletes and onlookers alike realize that it’s okay to not be okay and to prioritize our mental health. While most of us are not Olympic athletes, sometimes it can still feel like we have the pressure of the world on our shoulders – even without a gold medal at stake. So, what’s a normal “Joe” to do when it comes to managing mental health pressure? We have to learn to put ourselves first. 

Developing a Stronger Mind/Body Connection

Our mental health can strongly affect how we feel physically. For example, depression can often lead to feeling sluggish and fatigue in addition to mood swings. By developing a stronger mind/body connection and learning to recognize these mental health cues – whether physical or mental – you can learn when you need to take a “mental health break” or step back. 

Realizing How Important Mental Health Is

In addition to understanding how to read our own mental health cues, it’s vital to understand how important it is to take our mental health seriously. If you can read your mental health cues but don’t prioritize them, you’ll only continue to increase the pressure. 

Biles is joining the ranks of athletes like Michael Phelps who continue to advocate for mental health awareness – not just among Olympians or athletes, but for everyone. At the end of the day, it is critical for everyone to prioritize mental health, like Biles’, and learn to put ourselves first – even when we have the weight of an Olympic gold medal on our shoulders. 

About the Author

Kimberly Sandberg Aloha Integrative Health
Kim Sandberg is the owner and founder of Aloha Integrative Health and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. She has two advanced degrees: a Masters of Science in Nursing as a Nurse Anesthetist and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She has worked in a variety of settings, though the biggest impact on Kim and her work came from her 28 years of service in the Navy Reserve.

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