Gabe McClelland is a men's mental health advocate, lululemon ambassador and a serial community builder. During the month of October, Mental Health Awareness Month, we chose to highlight men's mental health in particular and Gabe is one of those special souls who will strive to do good on this earth out of pure passion as opposed to monetary success. For this, and many other reasons, he is the perfect person to round off our Mental Health Awareness Month.
As always, put the kettle on and settle in to learn more about this amazing young man.
Gabe, introduce yourself to the Natch community...
Hey mate, my name is Gabe McClelland and I'm 28 years young from the surfcoast in Victoria. I work full time in Construction as a site foreman and currently have two community passion projects underway!
I am a man of community, I love inclusiveness and having the ability to connect with everyone and anyone! We all know that feeling we get when we’re being physically embraced, supported and heard through conversations.
Movement also brings me a lot of joy as it's always accessible. Running predominantly, why? Because a run provides you with so much more than just the physical and mental challenge. It provides you with an immersive experience of new scenery, familiar sounds and the ability to say good morning to people that pass you by. All these things are free, you simply just have to be where your feet are.
Gabe The FINISHR.
Tell us about The FINISHR - what it is and why you started it.
My partner Bree and myself founded The FINISHR in March 2019, we wanted a community in which anyone felt welcome and a part of something bigger than themselves. We care less about the running or the walking and more about the connections that can be made from simply showing up.
You've got a knack for starting groups and holding space - we'd love to know of any lessons, mistakes or advice you've learned and would pass on to someone else wanting to start something themselves.
Anything valuable starts with authenticity.
There's no use pouring all your energy into an idea that someone else has already come up with. You will find an abundance of passion and purpose when your idea starts with you and your “why”. Inevitably the journey will have its ups and its downs but at the end of the day, your reason why you're doing this is what will carry you through.
I co-founded The FINISHR and founded Hey Mate because these were things that truly stoked my fire, it was the potential impact that could be made and the endless connections that would blossom through both movements!
Gabe the Mental Health advocate.
We love the concept of Hey Mate and think everyone should know about it. Let's start with why you started it?
For a majority of my teenage years and into my early 20’s I was living through my subconscious. Not having a full understanding of the battle I was up against with a mental illness, I was simply just being.
After coming to terms with this being a part of who I was, it allowed me to then accept myself, fully.
Opening up about who I truly was has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It propelled me in the right direction of making a dint within the men's health space.
I first shared my story on a podcast my friend Steph was hosting (The Steph Sanzaro Podcast), then the following week I worked up the courage to share in front of my run club, The FINISHR, which was held at bells beach that particular morning. I remember my heart beating out of my chest along with the sweaty palms, I took a deep breath and off I went.
Within the first couple of sentences I had tears rolling down my face. No, I wasn't upset. This was my passion playing its role. From that day I made a commitment to myself and the men in my life that I was going to become a man of more words.
Hey Mate was launched to amplify the connection between men and to dig a little deeper than surface-level conversations. These men are now world wide.
It's imperative to create and hold a safe space for any man to chat. It's in these safe spaces that the voices of any man in our communities can be heard clearly and without judgment. The support of one another both binds us together as a group while also allowing each of us to move forward on our personal pursuits with confidence.
Hey Mate is a community of men that strive to be better, for each other, for themselves, for their community and beyond.
Hey Mate is a ripple effect.
The intent for these sessions were to hold space, allow thought to be explored and to give permission for these men to consider, write & share experiences that they may never have been able to before.
15 Men, some known & some new, arrived to the first session. One booked out session became two full sessions. Two became five. Each week up to 60 men are seen, heard and connected with other men on topics ranging from ‘Limiting Beliefs’ to ‘Vision & Goals’ to ‘Connection & Community’ across Australia and New Zealand.
Right now, these sessions are facilitated by one volunteer & founder, myself. On occasion sessions are facilitated by another hey mate volunteer. These sessions book-out every Monday night within the hour. Read that again.
How is your Mental Health doing at the moment?
For what has been quite a challenging year with Covid, I have also been battling a chronic back injury which had me off work for 7 months and pretty much at a stand still. If this had happened five years ago I honestly don't know what this would have looked like. I have honestly surprised myself with how I handled the challenge, I was conscious enough to be able to find multiple silver linings through this journey.
Off the back of that, excuse the pun!
I'm in a really good spot, inevitably I have my good and bad days but I'm aware that my best looks different on different days and that's totally ok. Allowing my mindset to focus on finding the 1%ers every day has improved my mindset tremendously, there is always something to be grateful for.
After an intense period of rehab, I'm now back running and lifting weights, this has amplified my recovery and my mindset. I have two months to make 2020 my year.
Share with us your morning routine - what sets you up for the day?
I believe the day is won early, it's all about setting that alarm and watching the sun rise with a coffee in hand and my arm wrapped around Bree's shoulders. A training session to follow, a run or some weights and then a big feed to fuel the day.
I will try and connect with a few mates and to check in, then to put aside some time for me to slow down and recharge, I've learnt the hard way about getting burnt out!
Do you have any favourite personal care rituals that you physically or mentally benefit from?
I froth a deep tissue massage and it's now a weekly thing for my self care.
Also, recently I have been laying on a Shakti mat before I go to bed. I find this really mellows me out and allows the muscles in my back to relax before I go to bed. Self care is something that usually slips by the wayside, however I've learnt that being selfish and doing these things enables us to grow, develop and have a better sense of self worth.
We're huge advocates of what you put onto your body is as important as what you put into your body, much like fresh fruit and vegetables are vital, so too are your natural personal care products. What are your thoughts on natural products?
To be honest, I really need to educate myself when it comes to personal care products and what I'm putting on my skin. To date I have been a bit blasé about the cheapest thing on the shelf with a ‘that will do attitude’. I understand that our skin is the largest organ a part of the body and potentially mine has been suffering due to my lack of knowledge. Thanks for the nudge!
Finally, tell us your thoughts on mindfulness and meditation.
Slowing down allows you to prioritise and to then build momentum.
Mindfulness looks so different for every being, for me it can mean meditation but it can also mean going for a run, sounds a bit silly but it literally allows me to ignore the cluster of thoughts in my head and to instead focus on the task at hand- one foot in front of the other.
Meditation is something I don't do enough of, my good friend Ryan Mannix introduced this practice to me a couple of years ago and after every session I involve myself in I always leave feeling connected, mellow and having a clear mindset.
To learn more about hey mate head here to educate and evolve.