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You Don't Have To Be An Olympian To Prioritize Your Mental Health

Simone Biles' decision to withdraw from the team competition and the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics came as a surprise to many. Biles, largely viewed as thegreatest gymnast of all time, says mental health concerns were at the forefront of her mind.

Her decision has been celebrated by many. It's the latest example of high-profile athletes publicly talking about the pressures they face and putting their mental health first. Tennis star Naomi Osaka has also made public statements about her struggles with depression. She pulled out of the French Open and Wimbledon this year to focus on her mental wellbeing.

But it's not just superhuman athletes who deal with pressure from work. Things like anxiety and depression can affect everyone. So whether you're trying to take care of your own mental health or looking to support those around you, here are six Life Kit episodes that can help along the way.

Are you feeling burnt out?

Just as Biles acknowledged in her statements, the past year and a half has been rough for a lot of us — and the pandemic is still going on. It may be easy to ignore your burnout because a lot of people around you feel the same way, but burnout can come with serious consequences for individuals' mental health and needs to be addressed. Here are four expert-recommended tips to recognize and address burnout in oneself and in the workplace.

It's OK to say "no"

Biles said that she feels like she has the "weight of the world" on her shoulders at times. And while the rest of us aren't the most decorated gymnast of all time, we all experience pressure in our own lives. For some, that comes in the form of people-pleasing and saying "yes" to others to make them happy or get rid of perceived tension or anxiety — often at one's own expense. Natalie Lue coaches people to curb their people-pleasing tendencies. Here are her tips on how to change your habit of always saying yes.

Step away from the hustle and lean into your hobbies

Professor Yoshi Iwasaki, chair of Public Health and Recreation at San Jose State University, says when we bring meaning to our leisure time, like we can through hobbies, it helps improve our mental health. It's OK to do something just for fun and not add a price tag to it. If you don't have a hobby, this episode is a great place to get started.

Support your friends when they're having a hard time

Mental health is important for everyone — including our friends. If someone you know is struggling, it's natural to want to be there for them. But what's the best way to show up for the ones we love? Rachel Wilkerson Miller, author of the book, The Art of Showing Up: How to Be There for Yourself and Your People, has some do's and don'ts for supporting the people we care about.

Kids and teens deal with anxiety and depression too

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns for children. Renee Jain and Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a clinical psychologist, are the authors of Superpowered: Transform Anxiety Into Courage, Confidence and Resilience. While they believe anxiety is normal, they also note that it can lead to kids having unhealthy coping mechanisms if they don't understand what they're experiencing. In this episode, they offer seven ways to help your child manage their anxiety.

Life in the pandemic has also been extremely hard on teenagers, who have had their routines and social interactions interrupted at a pivotal time in their lives. Some clinicians, including Dr. Khadijah Booth Watkins, a psychiatrist, and Elisa Nebolsine, a cognitive behavioral therapist, have said the current levels of distress, including suicidality, in their adolescent patients are among the highest they've seen in their careers. If you are worried about a teenager you care about, here's how to start the conversation and when to get professional help.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Wynne Davis is a digital reporter and producer for NPR's All Things Considered.
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