The 2016 Rio Olympics begin in just a few days! We are looking forward to watching these Olympians and witnessing their incredible talents! It is important that every viewer practices self-awareness as we tune in. Comparing ourselves to these athletes, even unintentionally, can become a harmful practice. Below are seven things to remember when watching the Olympics!
1. These Olympians are professional athletes. For a portion of their life, their entire career is dedicated to year-round training. This being said, their bodies may be stronger than a typical person because they need to be for their career.
2. Olympians are human too. They doubt themselves, smile, get anxiety, laugh, cry and make mistakes. Olympians are not “super-human” and should never be put on a pedestal for being superior to other individuals. Their relatability is reassuring and inspiring that we can do anything we set our minds to!
3. The Olympians’ appearance didn’t get to them to where they are today. “Athletes focus on the function and performance of their bodies and that’s a component of working toward body acceptance. We can practice acknowledging what our bodies can do (e.g., my arms allow me to hug others) rather than on what they look like.” – Nichole Wood-Barcalow, PhD
4. We each have our own talents and abilities. One of their talents lies in athletics whereas yours may be music, computer science, painting, math, cooking, etc. These Olympians are pursuing their dreams within their area of interest and skill-set and you should pursue yours too!
5. Proper nutrition has and continues to allow these Olympians to compete to their best ability. “Athletes need to fuel their brains and bodies to operate at peak performance just as we need to do as well.” – Nichole Wood-Barcalow, PhD
6. Viewers are only seeing a glimpse into the life of an Olympian on television. We don’t know firsthand about their personal lives, the road that it took for them to get to this moment, what their life looks like afterwards, etc. Assuming that these athletes “have everything going for them” is not the truth because we are always working towards progress, not perfection.
7. Just like you, they need cheerleaders! Family, friends, coaches and even support from strangers is essential to their well-being. They cannot compete alone and should never have to. As eyes are on them for a few weeks, root for these athletes as you would want others to root for you!