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What Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka Did Is So Important


Jeanette Yoffe M.A. M.F.T.


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Author of Groundbreaking Interventions: Working with Traumatized Children, Teens and Families in Foster Care and Adoption and What s Your Name, Who s Your Daddy? a one woman play about growing up in foster care and adoption available on Amazon and Audible. She has appeared on the OWN and TLC Network, as a Psychotherapist teaching about Adoption in the shows Raising Whitley and Long Lost Family.

Why? Because we are all human, despite our strengths and weaknesses, and we all have needs. We can want anything, in the pursuit of dreams, and for some like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka, it means to go after an Olympic Medal. However, in order to achieve one’s full potential, we need to have our basic psychological and emotional needs met.  Or else that dream, can defeat the purpose itself.

Simone and Naomi are breaking “the persona” that athletes are superhuman beings. In plain terms, they are not. They are human like everyone else, with flaws and vulnerabilities. Their Olympic prowess is showing not only their strength but their vulnerability of strength. They are holding the torch for Mental Health, and this deserves a gold medal in my opinion. This merits great value, and they are modeling how to do this for us all.

I commend both of them for bringing attention to Mental Health which affects 1 in 5 persons in our country. When mental health is left unchecked, this can lead to very poor outcomes. They are both checking a box that heeds acknowledgment, that many leave unchecked.


Here are some tips and techniques to protect your mental health, how to make self-care a priority, and how to incorporate this into your daily routine: 

I encourage you to memorize the 5 Needs all starting with the letter A:


1.    Acknowledge you have needs, and you have a right to set boundaries for yourself. Communicate with “I statements” i.e. I need to take a break, I need to be share what happened to me, I need to be held or I need some quiet time alone.


2.    Attention – It’s not selfish to give yourself attention. We all need to be heard, and be provided a space to be heard, seen and received by another human being. Talk with those who understand you, respect you, and get you. Designate a listening partner, someone who you can call, who will just listen without judgment, have empathy for you, and does not fix or give you unsolicited advice. Listening is supportive in and of itself.


3.    Appreciation - Find 3 things you “get” to be grateful for. i.e. to breathe, to walk, to have family with you, to bring your recycle bin down to the curb filled with all you get to have. Know there is always someone struggling and more vulnerable than you in the world. You are not alone. 


4.    Autonomy - Take time out for yourself, walk away, go outside, put the phone down, turn the dial down. Feel the breeze and sun on your face to calm the body and calm the mind.


5.    Affection – A human touch lights up the whole brainstem. When we are touched in tender, loving ways our bodies can heal, grow and press on. It’s okay to ask for a hug, and when you get one, take a moment to turn on your “receptivity” and allow yourself to receive the hug, rather than releasing the embrace so quickly. Hold on to the love and receive these good endorphins. This will fill up your inner reserve tank, and keep you resiliently well.  

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