On Monday, the retired Olympian spoke to Today‘s Hoda Kotb about the Tokyo Summer Olympics being postponed to 2021 due to the global outbreak, acknowledging how “difficult” it must be for the athletes that have been training for four years now.
While Phelps, 34, said that the athletes will now have more time to train, he explained that he wants “everyone to take care of their mental health,” adding, “it’s something that is even more important now.”
The father of three, who has been vocal about his struggles with depression and anxiety over the years, shared how he has been affected mentally during these trying times.
“I’ll be the first one to admit, I’m someone that still struggles with depression and anxiety,” Phelps said. “I’ve had a day or two over the last three weeks when it has been difficult. I’m sure there are people out there who are going through the same exact thing.”
“So again, it’s something that is so important to make sure we’re paying attention to our mental health as much as we are our physical health,” he added.
The retired swimmer also insisted that anyone struggling should reach out for help as he once did.
“It was something that was very difficult for me to do and I can understand if somebody is going through that,” he said. “It’s something that changed my life, it’s something that saved my life. I still am myself reaching out for help. I still have a therapist that I talk to and they just help me be me.”
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In an interview with PEOPLE in April 2019, Phelps said that positive feedback he received from others inspired him to remain honest on the topic of mental health issues.
“Just hearing stories from people walking on the street or being in the airport, they will come up and share just a tidbit of what they have gone through or what a loved one has gone through,” he said.
“I think it is awesome to be able to see and show that these people and heroes that people love and look up to are normal people,” he continued. “We go through everyday struggles like normal people do.”
Phelps also shared his methods that guide him through dark moments.
“Swimming is always something that helps,” he explained. “Working out is something for me that I have to do. Six or seven days a week right now. But that is all my body knows. It is all I did for 20 plus years.”
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