I hope your Tuesday has been going well. Welcome back to another episode of Ask Ash, where I interview WatchMojo Founder & CEO Ashkan Karbasfrooshan and ask him questions about various topics, ranging from covering what is going on in the news, to giving career advice for students & entrepreneurs.
Yesterday, Simone Biles withdrew from the Olympics Gymnastics Team Final as she was not mentally prepared for the end of the competition having been quoted saying: “having the weight of the world on my shoulders”. Earlier this year, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open as she had been struggling with some mental health issues. She would also withdraw from Wimbledon and play in the Olympics.
Mental Health is one of the most talked-about topics in today’s world. I wanted to get Ash’s thoughts on Mental Health, and how to develop mental toughness.
Recently I asked you about Naomi Osaka withdrawing from the French Open citing her mental health. You said you supported her decision but disagreed with the way she more or less unilaterally decided she would not do press. Today, Naomi Osaka got upset… and later on, in the day, Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics team final. You’ve also said that resilience means overcoming physical and mental adversity. So my question is: how do you balance and reconcile knowing when to take a break because of mental health with not “giving up” to develop your mental toughness?
To me, these are perfectly constant. Let’s just think of exercise. If you never exercise, you become unhealthy, gain weight and find yourself out of shape. If you exercise too much, you risk injury, which means you will be sidelined and unable to stay in shape. Similarly, I think that when you get physically hurt, it’s pretty clear right away that you need a break. Either you see/feel it yourself, or you conduct some tests to determine that, but either way, there’s no doubt that you need to take a break, rest, and recover.
With mental health, it’s not obvious that you are hurt, nor is it clear to you that you need, even though similar to a twisted ankle or a dislocated shoulder, your mental health may require you to take a bit of a break, or at least change up your routine. The following may not be PC and generalized, but all factors being equal: young people have, relatively speaking, fewer sources of stress. Mortgages, kids, spousal issues add a whole lot of complexity to one’s life… so until you find yourself in those situations, then yes, I think young professionals should use their relative comfort and lack of real sources of stress to develop their mental toughness. Shying away from the first sight of adversity will certainly not make you stronger. With Osaka and Biles, you are talking about already overcoming so much adversity and developing such resilience…
For Osaka, look she made it to the Olympics… but lost. It happens. When she said: “I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this. I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year (it) was a bit much,” I personally viewed that perhaps as her putting too much pressure on herself. I am guilty of that, and I discussed that recently in a very candid article.
Biles is the GOAT, she doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone, but if you add the added delays of the 2020/21 Games in Tokyo, she showed today that she is human: “I have to focus on my mental health. I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now… We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.”
In fact, Biles said that she was somewhat inspired by Osaka
But the most telling thing was her answer to what her favorite memory of her life was, and she said “my time off.”
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