By Shefa Ali
All eyes on Tokyo this week for the overdue 2020 Olympics. As you know, I am not the biggest sports fan, but what did catch my eye was the headlines on two Olympians withdrawing from the games, due to the toll it was taking on their mental health.
American gymnast and four-time Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles withdrew from team and individual all-around finals in Tokyo. Biles, the most successful US gymnast of all time, said she had to focus on her mental health after pulling out of the women’s team final. Biles scored her lowest Olympic vault score in the opening rotation before withdrawing from the team final.
Tennis player Naomi Osaka announced that she was going to skip press conferences because of their potential damage to her mental health, during the French Open. She then backed out of the tournament altogether, because of anxiety and a desire to tend to her well-being and prepare for the Olympics.
“It has become apparent to me that literally everyone either suffers from issues related to their mental health or knows someone who does. The number of messages I receive from such a vast cross section of people confirms that. I think we can almost universally agree that each of us is a human being and subject to feelings and emotions,” wrote Naomi in her recent TIME article.
I love that such high-profile individuals have the courage to be so honest and open, each time someone speaks out it helps us break down the stigmatisation of mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
How we talk about mental illness matters, because incorrect messaging can easily reinforce stereotypes in society, by becoming more aware of how we speak about mental illness and encouraging others to do the same we can start to de-stigmatise.
I believe a big contributor to poor mental states in 2021 is the fact we have no privacy, we have no peace. We have no off switch button, not only are you bombarded with pressure, but you also can’t get away from it. And I think that’s a real problem. We are imploding. And I think what we need in our lives, what we need to pray for is the still place, the calm place. Peace. Not only do we need to pray for it, we need to practice it. Taking little time out card. Little retreats into yourself, hit the off button, so you can find you. You found your friends, you found your followers, but you gotta find you.
Life is busy, some of us have full time jobs, but we need to take time to reflect on ourselves, time to check- in with our emotions. In the times we are living in, we cannot afford to be strategy-less, like any business, we need a strategy for our peace.
My strategy to maintain peace in my life includes sleep. I never compromise on this, I love my night time routine, taking care of my nutrition, yoga, a really good tribe of women that mirror back to me what I can’t see, I call them heart people and of course meditation and prayer.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel your mental health is being compromised, I hope you remember, it’s OK not to be ok, its ok to ask for help, its ok to feel tired, its ok to want to sit it out for a while, its ok to feel the way you do. Other people feel that way too.
* The author is a Life & Business Coach. Instagram handle: @miss_shefa, Website: missshefa.com
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