While the pandemic has had a part to play in making the Tokyo Olympics 2020 the most challenging one yet, it's also hard to ignore international news headlines where top athletes like Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles and others have voiced out their struggles with mental health.
As many grapple with mental health issues during these indefinite periods of isolation and social distancing, athletes too cannot afford to ignore the signs of burnout and mental fatigue, given the added physical strain of training, the pressure of competition and more. How does mental health factor in with the grit and endurance so often needed to excel in sports?
Psychologist Bryan Win, co-founder of Mind Gap sports psychology consultancy, shares his thoughts on the hidden pressures of being an athlete and the importance of shifting unrealistic mindsets about sports celebrities today.
What typically leads to burnout, depression and anxiety in athletes?
Win: Athletes that I've seen are so focused on their sport that their identity is tied too closely to what they do instead of who they are. The results they achieve then affect how they view themselves. If they win, they think they are worthy as a person and good at what they do. But when they lose, they take it out on themselves with thoughts like "I'm useless" or "If I'm not good at this, what else am I good for?".
Tying your identity and self-worth to what you do instead of who you are is dangerous, as your self-worth and identity then become dependent on things that you may not be able to control, like the results of a match or tournament.