Simone Biles Details the Trusted Tool She Uses to Help Combat Her Anxiety
Simone Biles is developing tools to deal with anxiety, thanks to the help of a trusted therapist.
While appearing virtually at the Child Mind Institute's annual Child Advocacy Award dinner in New York City on Tuesday to accept the inaugural Trailblazer Award, Biles — who has been outspoken about mental health, especially in the wake of a challenging Tokyo Olympic Games — said she hopes to be "a voice for the voiceless."
In doing so, Biles is being candid about what helps her through difficult moments.
"I do keep close contact with my therapist, I love that," Biles, 24, said in a PEOPLE exclusive clip from the dinner. "And it's super exciting so hopefully more people are open to going to therapy and knowing that they're there for you and not to harm you."
Part of what Biles' therapist has encouraged her to do is keep a worry journal.
"I have pretty bad anxiety sometimes so she tells me in my worry journal to put from 12 to 1 p.m. — that's the time I've selected — and anything I've written down in my worry journal, I use that hour to worry about the things then," Biles explained. "And usually by the time 12 or 1 [p.m.] comes, I've already forgotten about all my worries so that kind of is a tool that helps me."
Biles, in general, said she's learned "to not give up, to move forward and keep pushing," over the years, even when facing the unimaginable. She said she now sees happiness as, "Just waking up and having a positive outlook on life in general and to know that you're blessed with another day."
The athlete was in conversation with Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, president and medical director of the Child Mind Institute. In a press release, Koplewicz said "Simone Biles bravely showed children and the entire world this year that mental health and wellbeing should be made a priority and a foundation for everything else we do in life. The Child Mind Institute is pleased to present her with the inaugural Trailblazer Award for her courageousness and strength in using her global platform to tell young people that it's critical to speak up and get help."
During this year's Summer Games, Biles removed herself from four out of five gymnastics event finals due to a case of the "twisties" — a disorienting condition that athletes can experience when they lose air awareness, putting them at risk for injury when they land.
The Olympian explained at the time that she withdrew to focus on her mental health, saying on social media that her "mind & body are simply not in sync."
During Tuesday's event at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan — which raised $7.2 million — New York Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks. The Beauty Health Company Executive Chairman, Brent Saunders, was also honored with the 2021 Child Advocacy Award.
The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit "dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders."