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CHINA CONSTRUCTS | Louise Nichole Logarta

With the Tokyo Olympics in full swing, the world’s best athletes have come out gunning for the gold. Stealing the show was two-time Olympian—having had four golds and one bronze—gymnast Simone Biles, who had opted to drop out of the competition to prioritize her mental health.


Right after the gymnastics team final, Simone told the media that it was not an injury she sustained during the competition that was the reason for her dropping out, but something that plagues athletes and non-athletes alike: stress.


A news report quoted her as saying: “Today has been really stressful. We had a workout this morning, it went OK, and then just that five and a half hour wait I was just shaking, I could barely nap.


“I’ve just never felt like this going into a competition before. I tried to go out there and have fun and warm up in the back to feel a little bit better, but when I came out here I was like, ‘No, the mental is not there, I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself,” she continued.


But she has since been on the receiving end of criticism on social media, to which she answered questions posed at her and pointed out how the sport required optimal mental—not just physical—rigor.


Among this decade’s (and maybe even the decade before that) buzzwords has been “mental health” and the news has sparked again a conversation about it.


Naysayers believe that mental health is just an excuse for people—particularly millennials and GenZ-ers—to take it easy, to call for shorter work hours, to work from home and whatever else.


But in truth, experts believe that taking care of one’s mental health is one of the best forms of self-care that can be done for a person. In Simone’s case, gymnastics—or any sport for that matter—requires a perfect mind-body connection. Mental health can affect a person’s physical health and cause severe illness, if left unchecked. On a grim note, some have even ended their lives because of it.


There’s an entire body of data to support the significance of mental health but we’re not delving into that. Especially in the pandemic era, there has been a spike in the decline of mental health especially among older people and young people, what with being stuck at home for months at a time and being disconnected from friends and loved ones. Independent of that are the personal issues that people may be harboring—loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of homes, among others. That’s why it has been suggested to check in on others, since people tend to bottle it up inside.


Simone Biles, other than just the less-than-perfect mind-body connection, had also lost an aunt very recently.


So ask your family members, ask your friends. Ask yourself: How are you today?


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