Mental Health Strategies Aly Raisman Uses to Feel Her Best

The Olympian takes advantage of a few techniques that she's picked up during therapy.

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Aly-Raisman-Mental-Health-Strategies-Courtesy-of-Aerie
Photo: Courtesy of Aerie

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman is no stranger to the value of speaking to a mental health professional. "I've been a big fan of therapy for a long time," says the 27-year-old. "I've been in therapy for years." While Raisman wishes she could "talk to a therapist every single day," that's not always practical, but she's learned to use tools she's learned during therapy in her everyday life, she says.

Raisman has been making an effort to apply those tools more often, using her "inner guide" to navigate tough situations when she doesn't have access to her therapist. "Over the last year I've really tried to work on seeing a therapist, but not relying on it," she says. "If I don't have an appointment that day, I'm not counting down the days until I see them again to get their advice or to feel that I'm getting helped." (Related: Aly Raisman Says Her 'Body Has Never Felt The Same' Since 2016 Olympics)

While relying on her inner guide, Rasiman has found a few mental health strategies that have helped her manage her anxiety. She sat down with Shape at the Aerie store in Soho to share what's working.

Maintain a Routine

As someone who started gymnastics at the age of two, Raisman is no stranger to a routine. "I am someone who does really well with routine so I've found the importance of — even when I'm traveling — trying to have some familiarity throughout my day." And science says that she's onto something. Studies suggest that those who perform regular rituals with meaning attached to them feel more in control and are better able to cope with anxiety and stress. Writing in a journal, listening to calming music, and mental check-ins throughout the day all factor into the Fierce author's regular routine.

Practice Self- Compassion

On difficult days, Raisman tunes into her inner dialogue, she says. She tries to remember "that the way we talk to ourselves really matters and to be kind to ourselves and to remember that we're just human we are all doing the best we can to navigate life." She's found that negative self-talk can cause her to spiral. "When I'm hard on myself I feel worse and then I feel more anxious and it's a bad cycle," she says. She tries to make a conscious decision to be nicer to herself and to take life "day by day." (Related: The Best Therapy and Mental Health Apps)

Walk Outside

Raisman's workout routine is very different from when she was training for the Olympics. "To be honest most of the time I'm just going for long walks," she says. While she used to dedicate seven-hour days at the gym, now "just being outside and getting fresh air makes me feel really good," says the Aerie ambassador. That checks out given that health-boosting effects of nature are backed by science. When the weather is warm, the mental health advocate goes for "a 45 minute to two hour walk — not every single day, but when I feel good," she says. (Related: Aly Raisman Is Using Quarantine to Embrace a Workout Routine That's Grounded In Self-Care)

Rely On Your Support System

Leaning on a friend can help you get through those tough times, believes Raisman. "I'm very lucky that I have a good support system," she says. Haven't found your inner circle yet? "Sometimes it might take multiple [tries] to find that good support system, but I believe family doesn't have to be blood-related," she says. (You can try some of these expert-backed tips for how to make a friend as an adult.) One of Raisman's biggest (and cuddliest) supporters is her rescue dog Mylo. Raisman makes sure to snuggle with him when she's having a difficult day. "He has been so amazing for my mental health and I love him so much," she says.

Take Time For Yourself

Feeling overwhelmed at work or in a social situation? Try carving out some time to reset. "I think it's important to take moments for ourselves," she says. For example, "if you're overwhelmed with family just go to the bathroom and take a couple of deep breaths and check in with yourself. If you go to the bathroom a couple more times than usual, no one's going to even notice. Just take that time."

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