“Your brain is as important a muscle as any other part of your body,” says retired Olympic athlete and World Cup Ski Racer Erin Mielzynski. “Taking care of it and training it to respond to a variety of situations is absolutely essential to be successful in any high-level sport.”
Mielzynski has had a wide range of training experiences and isn’t afraid to share that she sought mental health advice as part of her career. “I don’t see asking for help as a weakness or a problem. Talking with a professional and using specific tactics made me able to perform better.”
She continued, “It’s better to be proactive than to wait until something goes wrong. I see it like…we consistently condition our muscles to prevent injury as best we can, so we should put in equal amount of work training our brain to be able to respond to difficult situations.”
“You can put in all the work on the hill, you can have excellent nutrition, you can be following all the ‘right steps’, but maybe something just isn’t clicking, and you and your coaches can’t figure out why,” she said. “It could be that there’s some part of your mental health that’s holding you back. Once you are trained to handle pressure, regulate your emotions and have constructive discussions and disagreements, your physical abilities will undoubtedly improve. You can’t perform if everything in your life isn’t lining up.”
Despite being retired from high-level sport, Mielzynski continues to prioritize her mental health and wellbeing. “I don’t want to become stagnant,” she said. “I want to keep working on being a better form of myself.”
She encourages both athletes and coaches, in particular, to be open to mental health training and to seek it out. “Don’t let the ‘stigma’ of mental health hold you back. It’s training for your brain. You will always appreciate the training when life throws something at you.”
Alpine Ontario is pleased to offer Mental Health Training to its older athletes.
The series will be presented by Dr. Heather Wheeler, PhD Mental Health Lead, Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) & Dr. Leann Lapp.
Note: Sessions will be open to athletes only.