Mikaela Shiffrin spoke about the importance of dealing with anxiety. She shared with the public the impact that art, dance, and music has made to her career, life, and mental health, hoping to help others with her experiences.
“Art has had such a positive impact on my life — not just my life, but my career and my mind, my whole mindset.”
Mikaela had to deal with the recent loss of her grandmother and father, adding the COVID-19 situation, making it really hard not to feel completely weak sometimes. However, she made a powerful analysis of this kind of moment, “that it is not bad to not feel okay”. The world lives with the idea that being sad or distressed is a feeling that you should suppress, but it is quite the opposite.
The importance of being able to know, recognize, and accept emotions is one of the first great steps to be able to work on anxiety or any mental and bodily imbalance. “It’s okay to feel helpless. Sometimes it’s all okay,” she said.
Mikaela said one of the first times she realized the importance of prioritizing her mental health was when she experienced performance anxiety following the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“I would get to the start, and totally freeze. My eyes would start watering. I’d feel like I had to gag or like my throat was closing and I couldn’t breathe anymore. This happened almost every single race for an entire season, about three minutes before I was actually supposed to go and race my run.”
Said Mikaela Shiffrin, two time Olympic gold medalist
Anxiety leads to generate a self-pressure on oneself to achieve success. Even after she earned a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and solidified herself as a dominant star in the skiing world, the success heightened the pressure and anxiety she experienced. To work her anxiety, she went through a learning process of how to control her thoughts, emotions, and moments of stress.
“It’s a learning process, and I’m still learning and building the tools that are going to help me deal with the ups and downs that life and my skiing career has to offer. Something I always try to remember is that I feel these emotions because I love what I do, because I care. And that’s not a bad thing, but sometimes it can really hurt,” she said.
There are many ways to approach and work anxiety, art is one of them. Art helps exercise foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress.
Music can certainly have an impact on your mood, making it a powerful tool for working anxiety through it. Mikaela worked her anxiety through music and one of her favorite things to do with it is taking a song and strip it down making her own acoustic version. This exercise gives her a feeling of calm and allows her to experiment with her feelings and emotions.
Shiffrin encouraged those in attendance to find their own way to calmness and balance through their own art.
“Right now you’re being tested for your strength. And working on those strengths is only going to make the rest of your life something that you can manage so much easier. “Find your forms of art and they’ll help you,” she said.