Self-care was on the world’s stage this past week during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. And some people lost their damn mind over it. Often referred to as the greatest of all time (GOAT), Simone Biles took a step back reportedly in the name of mental health. I have teared up at every article I have read about the incident because it is about time we stop this cycle of go-go-go and overdoing it.
I am so proud of her (and others) for taking this stance. I have always been a fan of hers, but this is next level, in my opinion.
When was the last time you were thanked for going to work when you did not feel well? Or appreciated for doing extra? Or compensated fairly for the extra time you spent on a project? Or celebrated for a job well done? Chances are it has never happened or it has occurred very infrequently.
Yet, we continue to deprive ourselves of our sanity because society makes us feel that we must. We tend to give and give and give more in the name of work and neglect our basic, fundamental needs in the process.
Someone of Simone’s status, during the O-L-Y-M-P-I-C-S, prioritized her mental health over a gold medal. I think that act of self-awareness alone deserves a gold medal! Mental health is physical health. You cannot have one without the other. Don’t believe me, read about Elena Mukhina, another gymnast who was not ready to perform again after an injury but was pushed into it. Simone just set an example for people everywhere to aspire to that level of strength to put YOUR needs first regardless of what is on the line. For that, she is a hero.
Let’s not forget that Simone is a sexual assault survivor at the hands of a trusted US Olympic coach. She has given everything (and more) to a sport that has not always protected her, elevating the athleticism of gymnastics to levels never before seen. Judges don’t even know how to score her at times, as she has outright smashed every previous expectation.
Off the balance beam, she has worked hard to create a platform where other young Olympic hopefuls can practice in safe and supportive environments. What a role model for the young girls watching her. She has accomplished so much in her young life, and she has a whole lot of life ahead of her. And you know what else, she owes us nothing! But she does owe herself the right to prioritize her self-care. And she did. I am still in awe of her strength.
Self-care is not optional. It is not something we do when it is convenient or when we have some free time, or when we are not at the Olympics. Sometimes, it is something you have to do in the heat of the moment. And that’s ok. Some people have said she should have known she was not in the right headspace before the Olympics. But, listen, sometimes we do not always know how our bodies will react or how we will feel on a given day. Have you ever been feeling fine and then the next day feel like garbage? It happens. Get over it. She’s entitled to feel how she wants and when and her ability to prioritize her well-being does not have to be on a timeline that is convenient for you.
Most of the people reading this will never understand the pressure placed upon these young athletes, and it was just incredibly powerful to see Simone take this stance. However, we all have our own Olympic Games and challenges we face in life. There is a BIG lesson here for ALL of us.
We can learn from Simone and her latest courageous act and ALWAYS prioritize our mental health, well-being, and self-care! Nothing is worth more, not even Olympic gold medals.
You may be thinking, Simone could have just pushed through? Maybe you remember the inspiring Olympic moment of Kerri Strug in 1996, where Olympic Gold was placed before the health and well-being of the athletes. That moment you remember ended the then 18-year-old Kerri’s gymnastics career. Were you hoping to see that again? In 2021 to see self-care placed BEFORE anything else is the progress I love to see. Simone is not the first world-class athlete recently to take a stance in the name of mental health, and I hope she is not the last.
So what does this mean for us?
First, let’s normalize using your vacation, sick and personal days. Mental health is EQUALLY as important as Physical Health. It is not an either-or situation. And side note, the world will go on turning if you take a break, I promise. It is ok.
It all boils down to Self-Care. There is nothing sexy about being stressed, burnt out, exhausted, and tired. There is no glory in burning the candles at both ends. All you have is your health and wellness, so let’s start treating ourselves with kindness and compassion! You would not expect your car to take you where you need to go if there was no gas in it! I am reminded of my favorite self-care quote by Audre Lorde (pictured).
Lastly, if you are looking for ways to start prioritizing your self-care, be sure to check out my newly launched podcast! The first 3 episodes are available on all major platforms. The next episode will be available on Wednesday, 8/4, and bi-weekly moving forward.