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WNBA star Brittney Griner is normalizing athletes 'taking a moment' for their mental health

In order to deal with the ups and downs of her life, the WNBA star recently took three games off to focus on her mental health.

WNBA star Brittney Griner is normalizing athletes 'taking a moment' for their mental health
Cover Image Source: Brittney Griner during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on October 06, 2021, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

American basketball player, two-time Olympic gold medalist with the U.S. women's national basketball team and six-time WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner is encouraging athletes to take care of their mental health and not just their physical health. The 32-year-old is currently playing in her first WNBA season since being detained in Russia for ten months last year.

To deal with the ups and downs of her life, the WNBA star recently took three games off to focus on her mental health. Scoring 22 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists in a 97-91 loss to the Seattle Storm, she returned to the court for the Phoenix Mercury. She is setting an example and reinforcing that "it’s okay to take some time" to take care of yourself.

Image Source: Brittney Griner at  2020 Tokyo Olympic games at Saitama Super Arena on August 08, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Image Source: Brittney Griner at 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 08, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

According to ESPN, Griner shared with the reporters after the game: "You can't plan for when you might need some time. I just want to shout out the Phoenix Mercury organization. From the jump, they were there for me, making sure I was good, letting me know that at any moment if I needed some time off, I could do that."

She hasn't missed a beat since returning to basketball after missing the entire year of 2022. She has appeared in 21 of the team's 27 games this season, missing three earlier in the season due to a hip injury. After leading Mercury with more than 18 points and six rebounds per game, the two-time WNBA scoring champion was named to her ninth WNBA All-Star Game earlier this year.


 
 
 
 
 
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"You see [athletes rarely] take a moment for themselves," Griner said. She noted that there are also "a lot more resources now" that athletes are speaking up about taking care of their mental health. "The more people do that and make it normal, it's OK," she said. "Before, no one dared even say it. You were looked upon as weak or not wanting to play or compete, which is completely the opposite mindset."

She also acknowledged that "you're going to feel it" physically when returning after taking some time away. "Just the evolution of 'It's OK to take some time.' To speak out about it," Griner added.


 
 
 
 
 
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Griner also supported Olympic gymnast Simone Biles when the 26-year-old took some time off in recent years to focus on her mental health. Biles also didn't compromise on her performance by winning gold at the U.S. Classic competition. If there was any doubt about whether Biles is still suffering from the mental block that caused her to lose her air awareness during twisting skills (known as "twisties") and withdraw from the team and all-around competitions in Tokyo, she answered it as well.

Biles twisted herself off the bars. She did a full-twisting double off beam, a relatively simple skill in comparison to her usual dismounts, but one that her coaches, Cecile and Laurent Landi, said was meant to help her gain confidence. "Everything has fallen into place. I feel really good about where I am right now, mentally and physically. There are some things to work on in my routines, but for the first meet back, I would say it went pretty well. I'm very shocked and surprised," said Biles after returning.


 
 
 
 
 
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