Mental health check: On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the best, how do you feel right now (in general, not at this very moment)? If your answer isn’t the best, it’s ok. It’s also ok to not be ok. Look, we live in a challenging world. On the other side of a pandemic, sat inflation, a war, changes in work structure, changes to the workforce itself, etc. And those stresses are side dishes to our regular daily serving life stresses.
Rather than just “observe” or what really boils down to just “thinking” about mental health, we wanted to do something about it. In some ways, we already do – daily. At CLUBWAKA, we are a social club that provides connection, fun, and friendships for people across the country. We’re an outlet. Since we offer sports – even better- as exercise reduces stress and depression. We wanted to do even more. We challenged our players to respond to seven questions hoping that their answers could help someone who might be struggling. Below are Mikayla McAdams’s answers to the seven questions. She plays kickball in Rhode Island.
Mikayla McAdams | CLUBWAKA Player
Q: What specific thing(s) do you do to stay positive, and why do you think your method(s) work?
A: Watch funny shows and movies. I surround myself with funny people. As someone who works in mental health, it helps my emotional reserves. And laughing is good for you! It can improve your immune system, decrease stress hormones, relieve pain, strengthen relationships, and is a positive coping skill.
Q: What have you learned about yourself or life in your time playing in CLUBWAKA?
A: A therapist I had for many years helped me question what my values are and how to live within that value system. I already feel as though I have meaningful work. But, a large part of my values is having these positive social experiences and the concept of playing. Doing something without any gain other than the enjoyment-no intention of being the best, earning money, etc. I joined a social CLUBWAKA team and realized just how much that was missing in my life. For me, it has emphasized how important it is to live within your own values and do something just for you.
Q: When was the last time someone unexpectedly did something nice for you? What was it, and how did it make you feel?
A: I recently unexpectedly won a raffle basket as part of Nurses’ Week at the hospital where I work. It was very unexpected. I felt seen and appreciated. I also felt strange, as though I should then give it to someone else, maybe that I didn’t deserve it. It shows the importance not only of being kind to others but also allowing yourself to be open to compliments and others’ generosity.
Q: CLUBWAKA is a social club. What has your experience been with having a group of friends bonding through sports each week?
A: I won’t lie to you. We are a new team made nearly entirely of rookies. Currently, we are bonding through learning the game, playing kickball for the first time in 15 years, and losing. But, that’s a great way to find non-judgment, fun, and solidarity. When you lose 12-0 but can still cheer when a teammate makes it to a base That’s what social sports are about. Plus, as Mike Singletary said, “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” And, on a more personal note, coming to CLUBWAKA has been a form of exposure therapy for me – and for others, I know.
Trying new things is scary. You may not be good at it at first. And, you’re around new people while doing it. But, by continuing to show up; (not win, just show up) you gain confidence. That’s something that can translate beyond kickball.
Q: We’ve all had moments when life gets us down. What unique or unforgettable advice were you given during a rough patch?
A: I don’t know about specific advice. But, when I feel down, I remember to practice self-compassion. Sometimes, when you find yourself being too hard on yourself, you can ask, “What would I say to my friend? My sister? My parent?” It can really help put expectations into perspective. Can’t get to the gym like you usually do? Take a 10-minute walk. If you’re genuinely feeling like you don’t have the capacity to go to work for a day, then take a mental health day. It seems obvious, but I think people forget these are options and can be done unapologetically.
Q: What do you do each day to bring joy to your life? How do you spread joy to others? Be specific.
A: Every day, I spend some time with my fur friends: Twix, my goofy 1-year-old lab mix, and Salem, my independent and fiercely confident 11-year-old black cat. Animals encourage us to play, live in the moment, ignore the haters, and show us it’s normal to rest, enjoy our food, and seek time with others.
To bring joy to others, I try to be positive and non-judgmental. I also use my seemingly endless supply of over-ripe bananas for baking and sharing banana bread (with chocolate chips, obviously). Sharing food is an ancient hospitality practice that can help strengthen social bonds, spiritual (including secular-spirituality!) connections, and share culture.
Q: Can you share any blogs, book titles, or other interesting sources of inspiration you look to regularly?
A: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, shockingly enough, some subreddits, including r/wholesomegifs, r/humansbeingbros, r/animalsbeingbros, r/aww, r/animalsbeingderps