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Simone Biles Wants to Normalize Mental Health Care

As the most-decorated gymnast in history, millions of fans and countless child and adolescent athletes look to Simone Biles as a role model. But the Olympic champion has a greater goal: to defy expectations and normalize mental health care.

Ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable for an athlete of her stature to admit she struggled with pressure. Now she’s speaking up, and encouraging others to do the same.

The Pressure of Perfection

When you watch Olympic gymnasts flip and twist in perfect form, it’s easy to forget just how dangerous these stunts are. They make the twists and turns of the sport seem effortless, but even the most decorated Olympians face immense pressure to perform.

When Biles pulled out of the finals at the World Championships, it touched a nerve far beyond athletes. Data analytics company NewsWhip reports that searches related to mental health spiked on the day she withdrew.

That’s because it showed the rest of us that even the most iconic athletes struggle to live up to expectations. While some experts say that it’s a normal part of the growth process to feel discouraged or disappointed occasionally, it can become unhealthy when it’s your entire identity. It can cause athletes to ignore other parts of their lives and become self-destructive. That’s why it’s important to balance out your life. For Biles, that includes her relationship with Chicago Bears safety Jonathan Owens and leisure travel, in addition to weekly meetings with her therapist.

Self-Esteem

The mental challenges faced by Olympic athletes are countless. They train and compete for hours a day, striving for perfection in a sport that requires unimaginable physical skills, endurance and poise. But it’s not just the hard work that’s important – it’s also the strength of their mindset.

When Simone Biles withdrew from the competition, she showed the world that it’s OK to prioritize your mental health. And she’s helping usher in a culture where athletes don’t have to sacrifice their health for medals, championship trophies or our entertainment.

High self-esteem is the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. It’s about believing that you’re worthy of love, attention and preservation. If you’re struggling with low self-esteem, start taking small steps to change the way you think about yourself. Practicing healthy self-love will help you build a strong, resilient attitude for life’s challenges. Read more about this important topic here. Or watch a great TED Talk about the power of positive thinking by Nathaniel Branden here.

Self-Confidence

When you have self-confidence, you believe in yourself and trust that you can accomplish whatever task you are trying. You are able to set goals and expectations, and you can express your feelings assertively. You may even have a sense of control over your life, and you can handle criticism without feeling wounded.

When Biles blitzed the field at the Classic, she was not only vanquishing her competition, but also the deeply personal yet highly publicized mental health challenges that sabotaged her performance at the Olympics two summers ago. She has since worked through her trauma, finding new coping mechanisms, and learning to trust herself.

Some critics have argued that Biles withdrew from the team finals at the Olympics because she didn’t trust her mind and body. In reality, she recognized that her mental health was in disarray and knew that continuing to compete would put her and her teammates at risk of serious injury.

Self-Discipline

Getting in the habit of self-discipline can feel daunting at first, especially when you’re trying to change all areas of your life at once. Instead, choose one aspect of your life you want to improve, and start small. Work on it consistently, and over time it will become a habit that naturally reinforces other positive behaviors in your life like resilience, simplicity and volition.

It’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve so you can remind yourself why self-discipline is worth it, even when the going gets tough. As Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

Simone Biles is proof that anyone can write their own happy ending, no matter where they come from or what obstacles they face. She demonstrates the power of the virtues of resilience, humility, discipline and faith in herself as she leads the way for female Olympians and young women everywhere.

Julian

Julian Anderson is a seasoned sports analyst and writer at Sportsmen Report, where he brings over a decade of experience and a passion for sports journalism. With a deep love for football, basketball, tennis, and more, Julian's insightful articles and in-depth analyses have earned him a reputation as a trusted voice in the sports community. Julian holds a degree in Sports Journalism from the University of Michigan and has worked with various prestigious sports media outlets before joining Sportsmen Report. His expertise spans game strategy, player performance, and the broader impact of sports on society. Julian is particularly known for his compelling profiles of athletes, providing readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the personal and professional journeys of sports legends. In addition to his writing, Julian frequently appears as a guest commentator on sports podcasts and television programs, where his articulate and informed perspectives enhance discussions on current sports topics. His dedication to uncovering the stories behind the scores and his commitment to delivering high-quality content make him an invaluable member of the Sportsmen Report team. When he's not covering the latest sports events, Julian enjoys playing pickup basketball, traveling to major sports venues around the world, and mentoring aspiring sports journalists.