AAP AFL

Beams finding peace away from AFL

By AAP Newswire

In a time of uncertainty for the AFL community, Dayne Beams has found his clarity.

The Collingwood midfielder stepped away from football indefinitely in December 2019 to focus on his mental health.

Four months later, Beams watched on as the coronavirus pandemic forced his fellow players away from the game - while he has experienced first-hand the pay cuts that have come with them.

"From my point of view and I guess from a lot of other players' point of view, our pay has been cut quite significantly," Beams told AAP.

"(You're) just trying to reassess everything in terms of your budget and home loan repayments and any other repayments that you might have - like my rent at the factory I have ... and just trying to adjust accordingly."

Beams worries the pandemic will contribute to mental health issues, but hopes the season suspension will prompt players to explore their outside interests.

"It's so important, I think, to have something outside your everyday job in life," Beams said.

"I know I struggled for a lot of years with not being able to have an outlet outside of football and at the moment you're forced to have some sort of outlet."

For Beams, art therapy became that outlet, when he "stumbled across" it while in a mental health facility last year.

"I just wasn't doing really well in my life and I went in with an attitude of just being open and being open-minded to give everything a go," he said.

"I received a program for the weeks I was there and I looked at it and the two things that stood out to me on the page that I thought I wouldn't enjoy were actually yoga and art therapy.

"I scoffed at those things, I felt 'those are two things I'm not gonna enjoy' and they actually turned out to be the two things I enjoyed the most.

"While the yoga's fallen off a bit, my art, it's my purpose in life - I love it."

Art became Beams' escape - then his passion.

He set up a website - Health of Mind Art - with a portion of the profits from his abstract art directed to mental health charity Love Me Love You.

Now 30, Beams is eyeing life after footy in the mental health space.

He is enrolled in a counselling diploma and hopes to one day use his art factory as a therapy room.

"It is nice to have a direction, a clear picture on where you want to go in life - because footy's only a small part of your life," he said.

"I'm quite calm about the whole thing.

"I know for a lot of players it's a big stress trying to find what you're passionate about, because what I think a lot of people don't understand is how demanding football is and how much it takes up of your life

"There's guys who study whilst playing but it is challenging to get that balance right because footy is so demanding.

"So I'm happy that I've got a clear outlook on where I want to get to and I've just got to do the work now to be able to get there."

Beams recognises managing his depression will be a lifelong challenge - but finally feels like he's found solid ground.

"I literally just live day by day - that's what I tell myself," Beams said.

"Each day, if I feel good I acknowledge that within myself and it's been a bit of a challenge because it's strange for me to actually feel good.

"So it's allowing myself to feel those good emotions because it's something that's eluded me for a number of years now - the feeling of actually feeling good and happy with life.

"It's a great feeling - I get out of bed now full of energy and wanting to attack the day.

"And if I ever feel like I'm drifting off to a place where it's going to put me in a negative frame of mind I just try and centre myself and bring myself back to the present and what's going on right now and what I can control.

"That's all you can do I think - it's a simple way to live life and it sounds easy but it's taken me so many years to be able to practice that and absolutely get it right and to a point where I feel like it's really serving me a lot of benefit."