Eileen Gu Talks About Coping With Mental Health Challenges

Eileen Gu waving
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Fatima Araos

Eileen Gu is opening up about the flipside of her success.

In February, the 18-year-old athlete made history when she became the first freestyle skier to win three medals in a single Olympics – gold in big air and halfpipe and silver in slopestyle. She's also a model who has lucrative partnerships with Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. and is an outstanding student who's been accepted into Stanford.

But all of that "can be really tiring emotionally," she told GQ. Read the details below.

Importance Of Mental Health

Gu sat down with the magazine to talk about skiing, her multicultural background, and her decision to represent China, the home country of her mother.

When asked about the importance of mental health, she replied, "I think that for me, especially as someone who competes in three events, it can be really tiring emotionally, going through those adrenaline peaks and crashes, even more so than physically. That's while training, and that goes to a whole 'nother level while competing."

How She Copes

The California-born freeski superstar revealed that she deals with her mental health challenges by staying active.

"Personally, it's' difficult to just lie down and do nothing because in my head it feels like I'm being unproductive, and I could be doing something else," she said. "So instead of resting, I'm' just laying there kind of having a panic attack. So instead of doing that, maybe, you know, running is a form of rest for me, like jogging slowly because that's letting my mind rest. Or writing, journaling, reading."

Inspiration From Other Athletes

Gu also finds inspiration from people who have experienced the same issues, saying, "I have a lot of conversations with other athletes who I look up to because they've' gone through it. It's' definitely something difficult to explain to people who are not in the sport."

She said that she sometimes feels guilty for complaining and tells herself, "Look at you, you're' living your dream, you're' skiing, you're' traveling the world. What do you mean you're' tired?" But she needs to acknowledge what she's going through and find "coping strategies."

'Make The World A Better Place'

In a recent interview with Today, Gu addressed the backlash she received for choosing to represent China in the Olympics. "People always have their own opinions but for me, what I try to stick to is there's no wrong or right," she said.

"There's only intention. And I'm' trying to make the world a better place in my own way. And if people disagree with that, that's okay. And I just encourage them to make the world better in their way."