Written By: Andrea Sanchez-Mendoza
Taking breaks from sports, at work, or even in life in general is not typically seen as a power play in our society, but in the current sports season, many athletes have taken themselves out of competitions to focus on their mental health. Most recently, Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in her generation withdrew herself from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics team gymnastics competition over concerns about her mental health.
It takes a strong person to admit they need help, and an even stronger person to know when to take a break and to stop pushing so hard.
"I say put mental health first … if you don't, then you're not going to enjoy your sport and you're not going to succeed as much as you want to. So it's okay sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you are — rather than just battle through it".
Simone Biles explained in an interview that she was inspired by Naomi Osaka, who is the reigning tennis champion at the US Open and the Australian Open, to speak out about her struggles with mental health. Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open after officials threatened to expel her for not participating in the tournament’s mandatory post-match press conferences, due to her struggles with anxiety and depression. When asked about this decision, Naomi said “Here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences”.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer … The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that”.
We can all learn something from these two young women, that taking a break is not a bad thing, that we should restructure our way of thinking in our society to incorporate this new power play into our lives. By these two very decorated athletes speaking out about their mental health struggles, they have shown a spotlight on the issue of mental health, that it should no longer be considered taboo. They showed the world that it is okay to talk about mental health and that it is okay to take a break to focus on ourselves and practice self-care.
Take a break by listening to this wellness playlist we have put together.
Represented Foundation's mission is to close the diversity gap in social impact leadership.