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Here's how Drew Robinson incorporates Muse into his mental health routine

Julia Park
Drew Robinson

Athletes face unique pressures and challenges, from intense training schedules to the scrutiny of public performance. And like all of us, professional athletes encounter daily struggles and are not exempt from mental health issues. These stressors can significantly impact their well-being, making it crucial to provide the necessary support and resources.

From professional baseball player to mental health advocate, Drew Robinson's story is one of triumph. In 2020, Drew survived a suicide attempt that resulted in the loss of his sense of smell, taste, and his right eye. Today, as a mental health advocate for the San Francisco Giants, the team he last played for before retiring, he uses his experience to passionately champion mental health support for athletes. His powerful story continues to inspire countless others with his unwavering determination and courage.

To support athletes' mental health, Drew recommends leveraging tools like Muse. Read on to find out how Drew incorporates Muse to help sharpen focus and regulate his emotions.

Drew’s journey with Muse 

Drew, dealing with mental health challenges at the peak of your baseball career must have been incredibly tough. Can you share your mental health journey with us and explain how it led you to where you are today?

My mental health journey started in early childhood. Growing up in sports and into adulthood as a professional baseball player, I was often told to "suck it up" or "rub some dirt on it" when things weren't going well. This then became a subconscious go-to tool in sports that leaked into everyday life. With no mental and emotional awareness or support to address them, it created a habit of invalidation within my internal world and ultimately contributed to low self-esteem and overall quality of life.

Outside of sports, I grew up in a tension-filled household that eventually split by divorce. Experiencing that stressful environment as a child led to an internal self-belief that if my parents didn’t have to take care of me, they could fix their relationship. This mentality turned into an insecurity of feeling like a burden or an ‘inconvenience’ in any scenario. With no effort to address these insecurities or the negative self-talk that followed, I developed an unhealthy relationship with myself and a hopeless perspective overall.

A couple of personal adversity-filled situations before the COVID-19 shutdown weighed on me heavily. I was terrified to admit I was struggling because, on paper, I believed I shouldn’t be as unhappy as I was, so I didn’t ask for help. This belief led me to attempt suicide during quarantine on April 16th, 2020. Although I lost my right eye, I miraculously survived, getting a second chance at life. I developed a willingness to heal my unhealthy mental and emotional habits, not only for my own quality of life and my friends' and family’s peace of mind but also to share my story publicly with ESPN. I aim to encourage others to prioritize their mental health. I want to ‘heal loudly to prevent others from dying silently,’ which led to an opportunity with the San Francisco Giants to make mental health advocacy my full-time job within their organization.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for immediate help.

What were the strategies that helped you most during your recovery and courageous return to professional baseball with the San Francisco Giants?

The strategy that helped me the most was developing a self-care routine that I believed in, could lean on during challenging times, and use to amplify the good times. This includes committing to therapy, mindful practices like journaling and meditation, which Muse has helped me enhance, being intentional with my exercise, diet, and digital use, and reframing my over-critical, perfectionist, self-sabotaging internal dialogue to a healthier thinking pattern.

How has using Muse helped manage your mental health? Can you share the specific benefits you've noticed since incorporating it into your routine?

Using Muse has helped me manage my mental health by providing a tool for meditations and present-minded practices. It’s comforting to have that additional tool as part of my routine because, before using it, these practices felt less valuable when my analytical mind craved measurable metrics to prove the ‘work’ is working. The specific benefits I’ve noticed are expedited growth in my focus ‘muscle’ and the ability to regulate somatically. It helps me stay focused during my practices, greatly boosting my ability to focus more efficiently in everyday life.

Read how other athletes like Monique Billings, WNBA player, practices mindfulness to prepare for her games >> 

What advice would you give to athletes, or anyone struggling with mental health issues, based on your own experiences and recovery?

A lesson I’ve learned and remind myself of: It’s not a weakness or abnormal to struggle in life or feel ‘off.’ Accepting these feelings with self-love, rather than judgment, can help you address your struggles and get the help needed. When I was struggling, I felt isolated by unrealistic expectations. I didn’t realize until after almost losing my life that relatability is incredibly healing. No matter how overwhelming struggles may feel, many people will say ‘me too’ when you share feelings you thought were unique. This realization didn’t need to come from surviving an attempt. We’re more resilient than we think, and others' journeys show we can get through the storm. There are many options for help: therapy, setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, or using tools like Muse to be more present-minded. There is always a path to a more peaceful and enjoyable state of mind.

Beyond its role in mental health support, neurofeedback technology such as Muse has shown promise in improving athletic performance. How might baseball players leverage Muse to enhance their training sessions?

Muse improves athletic performance by enabling a clearer mind and more regulated emotions, which are key factors that separate the greats from the average player. From my experience in baseball, it was very noticeable how almost everyone had the physical ability to be elite, but very few were able to consistently perform at that level, including myself. I can’t fully describe just how maddening it was to know my potential but not be able to execute as consistently as I would’ve liked. Being able to have a clearer headspace, regulated emotions and heart rate, and controlled focus in the face of adversity are obvious examples of how actively using neurofeedback tools like Muse, just as we regularly exercise to prepare for the physical demands of the sport, will undoubtedly enhance athletic performance.

It's inspiring to see how you've turned your personal challenges into becoming a mental health advocate with the San Francisco Giants. How are you supporting the team, and what does the future look like for mental health advocacy in sports?

I support the team by creating spaces for players to explore and learn from their mental health journey. I act as a reminder of the importance of mental and emotional work and bridge the gap between players and resources, providing accountability from someone who has been in their shoes. I also encourage proactive mental health practices instead of reactive, emergency responses.

Check out below and see how Drew incorporates his Muse S headband to his daily routine.

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