Naomi Osaka's Hacks to Staying Relaxed amid Her Pregnancy: Video Games and Meditation
Naomi Osaka is about to become a mother, and as she gets further along in her pregnancy, the 25-year-old tennis champion is working to make sure her child grows up in a positive atmosphere despite the ongoing youth mental health crisis in America.
The pro athlete announced this January that she is expecting her first child with partner Cordae. And ahead of the baby's birth, Osaka sat down with BAZAAR.com to talk about her pregnancy experience—including how she's staying calm through it all—and her recent partnership with mental health platform Modern Health, with which she just released a collection of meditations designed for kids and narrated by Osaka herself.
Why is this collaboration special to you and how did you design these meditations to help kids?
This partnership is so important to me, particularly now that I am welcoming my own child into the world. We are currently facing a youth mental health crisis and children often don’t really know how to express when they need help or need a calming and grounding moment.
I hope that kids are able to take advantage of these free and publicly available meditations and learn how to listen to their feelings, create positive mental health habits, and be kind to themselves. I wish these had been available for me when I was a kid!
How and when do you hope to teach your child about mental health?
It's never too early to teach children about mental health. It doesn’t have to be complex or too deep but simply to take moments for quiet, for meditation, for self care. Take a break from devices, TV and the noise that may cause you any type of distress and also provide good quality time with family and friends.
What are your biggest concerns for your child amid the children’s mental health crisis?
I think most parents worry most about the health of their children both physically and mentally. It's a lot more difficult to be a child these days and as a parent my hope is that I can create an environment where my child can feel seen and heard and be open with me about any struggles.
Were you raised thinking about/understanding mental health?
We weren’t raised being super open about mental health, not because of anything personal, but more so because 20 years ago people weren’t as open about or aware of it as they are today. I am really glad we are all working to change the stigma that comes with speaking about mental health and wellness. There are also so many platforms like Modern Health that make mental health a priority and allow easy access to help.
What lessons on mental balance have you learned from your tennis career that you hope to pass on to your child?
That it is okay to speak up and speak your mind and that you never have to struggle alone. Others may not have all the answers but speaking to people who are dealing with similar issues can help you feel less alone and is also a good way to pick up some tricks and tools that may also work for you.
(Osaka famously withdrew from the 2021 French Open to focus on her mental wellness, her decision launching a greater conversation on the importance of mental wellness for professional athletes.)
What has your pregnancy been like and how have you kept yourself relaxed and positive?
I have been very fortunate to have a relatively easy pregnancy. I still enjoy listening to music and playing video games as a way to relax.
What has helped you overcome your anxiety?
Meditation has been extremely helpful for my anxiety. At first it was intimidating but when I started to practice meditating every morning, even just for five minutes, it became something I really looked forward to. I was able to create and help lead a meditation with Modern Health for adults and now for kids. I am really proud of them.
(Osaka worked with the platform's clinical team to develop the meditations based on evidence-led techniques for mindfulness in kids and teens. The meditation scripts were tailored to use both developmentally-appropriate skills and language for different age groups.)
What would you tell your younger self about mental wellbeing now that you know what you know?
Don’t sweat the small stuff and trust your instincts.
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