Mental health should not (in any way) be taken for a granted, otherwise, you’ll lose your battles with your own demons. Ibtihaj Muhammad, an award-winning sabre fencer of Team USA at the 2016 Olympics, fought hard enough in and out of the fencing strip and proved that she can win her passion and overcome her anxieties.
The first Muslim American woman in hijab to win an Olympics medal, Muhammad revealed in an interview how she braved her personal and professional battles. It was in 2014 when she started enduring performance anxiety. “At first, I had no idea what was happening. The morning of a competition I’d wake up feeling lethargic and sleepy—overwhelmingly so—despite having had a good night’s rest. At game time I’d onto the fencing strip and feel completely detached from reality. A cool sensation washed over my body, and when the match started, my arm and feet like they were made of lead,” Muhammad said.
Her honesty about her war on anxiety led her to regain her peace and focus. Determined to better her best and restore her mental health, Muhamad religiously followed her sports psychologist’s advice- a set of exercises designed to alleviate the symptoms of her anxiety. From prayer, meditation and breathing exercises, Ibtihaj was consistent in delivering herself out from performance anxiety. The best thing that she did is doing powerful self- affirmations by reminding herself that “I’m ready. I’m prepared. I’m strong. I’m capable. I’m a champion.”
And of course, the soothing wonders of music never betrayed her as listening to her favorite songs nourishes her heart and mind to relax and stay positive amid the chaos in her mind. And you bet it, she did it and she made it, Ibtihaj Muhammad conquered her fears and she’s amazing more than ever.