Last week, U.S. gymnastics star Simone Biles proved that even Olympic champions need a break from perfection. While the world looked to her for gold medal entertainment, Biles made the decision to withdraw from the Olympic Games, stepping away from the Tokyo all-around final. Critics were swift to accuse her of letting down Team U.S.A. and lacking the mental strength to handle the pressure that comes with being an elite athlete. Biles quickly came forward to share with the world that she had concerns about her mental health and needed to withdraw from the Tokyo Games for her emotional and physical safety. The outpouring of support has far outweighed any initial criticism and has further opened the door for discussions on the importance of mental health.
Mental health has long held a stigma of silence, especially for elite athletes. The expectation has been to power through and compete regardless of physical or emotional injury. However, if one of the greatest athletes in history can step away from the Olympics to prioritize her mental health, you can certainly step away from that project, class or job that’s causing harm to your well-being. Biles’ focus on her well-being during one of the most anticipated athletic events at the Olympics proves just how important mental health is.
“We live in a world that’s constantly striving for ‘more,’ even if it comes at a personal expense,” says Dr. Randall Duthler, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer with ADHD Online. “People are told that success comes to those who pour in extra hours on the field, the classroom, or at the office and that pushing through stress and exhaustion will bring great rewards. The reality is, when we push ourselves to that point, we’re often too burnt out or overwhelmed to enjoy the achievement.”
The physical effects of burnout and chronic stress can have lasting impacts. “Our mental and physical health are fundamentally linked,” says Dr. Duthler. “There are numerous studies showing that when we neglect our mental health it manifests in adverse physical ways such as insomnia, depression, heart disease, musculoskeletal pain, severe injuries and a whole host of other consequences.”
Biles’ decision to put herself first is revolutionary because people don’t prioritize their own well-being often enough. Her story is a wake-up call to tune into your emotions and make sure your needs are being met before you try to meet the needs of others. In a culture that’s constantly demanding more, it can feel challenging to step away and allow yourself to recover from the stress and anxiety that’s preventing you from being your best self, but taking those breaks are necessary to perform well and feel good while you’re doing it.
The good news is that you don’t need to walk this journey alone. At ADHD Online, we have several resources that can help diagnose, treat and help you better understand what you need to maintain your mental health. We have highly experienced and doctorate-level psychologists who provide a detailed assessment regarding your ADHD, as well as a group of board-certified physicians and nurse practitioners who will provide personalized medical management for your specific needs and concerns. We know that confronting mental health issues and finding the right resources can be challenging, so our expert professionals are here to get you the support you need.
At ADHD Online, we are proud to see Olympic athletes lead the way to a culture that values mental health. It’s okay to take breaks and say no to the things that jeopardize your well-being and, as Simone Biles has shown us, there’s never an unacceptable place or time to put your mental health first.