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Topic: Mind - January 31 2022
Five Mental Health Books For Women Athletes

As the weather gets colder and the holidays approach, curl up with a book that enables us to learn more about our mental health as female athletes. Voice in Sport™ compiled a list of books that tackles topics like mental well-being and inner strength.

By: Cassidy Hettesheimer

VIS Creator

Topic: Mind

January 31 2022

For athletes, mental well-being is just as important as physical conditioning. One place to seek advice on how to be our best mentally-- calm, confident, growing and healthy-- is reading the advice of others who share their own mental health journeys.

If you’re looking for a new book to read, check out the list below. We compiled several of the Internet’s best recommendations for books that will help you learn to overcome challenges, seek joy, and gain self-confidence as a female athlete.

1. Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas by Alexi Pappas

In “Bravey”-- yes, “Bravey,” not “Bravery,” though the words may look similar at first glance-- Alexi Pappas shares the lessons she’s learned from her career as an Olympic runner, filmmaker, writer and actress. Pappas discusses her battle with post-Olympics depression and the difficulties of chasing two seemingly-unrelated dreams, providing her thoughts on how to be brave, handle tragedy and celebrate joy and what comes next. 

2. A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio

Mirna Valerio’s memoir recounts her work to make the trail-running community more inclusive, from the perspective of a Black woman whose body type does not match the skinny stereotype of the average runner. Valerio has run all across the United States on her path to becoming an ultramarathon runner, and her story touches on topics like practicing wellness, appreciating one’s body, fighting prejudice and finding the joy in achieving difficult goals.

“For athletes, mental well-being is just as important as physical conditioning. One place to seek advice on how to be our best mentally-- calm, confident, growing and healthy-- is reading the advice of others who share their own mental health journeys.”

Cassidy Hettesheimer, VIS Creator™

3. Brave Enough by Jessie Diggins and Todd Smith

Olympic cross-country skier, Jessie Diggins, tells the story of her rise from as an adventurous young girl in the American Midwest to the first-ever American to win gold in cross-country skiing. While sharing her journey, Diggins shares the mental and physical difficulties of training and competing as an elite athlete, including her own struggle with bulimia and her work now to help reduce stigma surrounding eating disorders. Through the highs and lows, Diggins talks determination, bravery and healing.

4. In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court by Brittney Griner

WNBA star Brittney Griner recounts her coming-of-age story and how she handled the taunts and insults aimed towards her height, gender and sexuality as she grew up and rose to the top of basketball. While telling stories of her athletic journey and her life challenges off the court, Griner shares how she learned to embrace what makes her unique and to love herself, inside and out.

5. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA

Years of practice, games, matches, races and training-- on top of school, jobs and other obligations-- can cause female athletes to face burnout. “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” looks at what women can do to prevent and recover from burnout in a world that critiques women’s bodies, jobs and emotions.

There’s many published books that can provide insight about mental well-being as a female athlete-- the ones listed above are five that we think would be good places to start in learning more about handling stress, gaining self-confidence, and embracing who you are. Keep exploring athletes’ advice about mental well-being in books, online blogs, articles, and podcasts as you continue to assess where you are in your own mental health journey. Never be afraid to take time to learn about how mindset can affect how we play our sport and how we move through our everyday lives. A strong mind makes a strong athlete and a strong person.

Take Action

Are there any books that you have read that should be included on this list? Comment your favorite book that has inspired you or helped you overcome mental challenges in your sport.