Week 3 Update of 52k for MIND
I am super excited to announce that today we have a Guest Blog from my sister Abigail!
We are a bit late on the update this week. Full disclosure, I’ve had a particularly stressful week and my anxiety reared it’s head. After many panic attacks I realized I needed to take some time to recharge and take control back. I am pleased to say that I am feeling 100 times better than I did earlier in the week because I listened to what my body and mental health was telling me, however I was feeling pressure (from myself) to get this update out. My wonderful sister reminded me to “Pass the Baton” and remember what an amazing support network I have. I am so grateful that she offered to guest write and to be able to share another voice with you all. After her thought-provoking reflection on this 52k journey, I will provide our latest update….
As the finish line of ‘Lockdown 52k’ is getting ever closer I wanted to share some of my reflections around how the process of completing this fundraising effort has echoed in many ways my mental health journey so far and how I continue learn better ways of self-care and how to best look after my mental health. A lot of which have often been in complete contrast to my natural perfectionist tendencies.
- Not embarking on the journey alone. By letting others in they can help spur you on and lift you up when times are hard. When you need reminding of the good times and hope, when all you can see is darkness.
During this 52k I have completed the majority of walks with my Husband Benjamin. By joining together to smash the 52k target it has enabled at times one of us (usually Benjamin) to remind the other (usually me) that despite feeling grumpy and unmotivated, going out for a walk, getting some fresh air and clocking up a few more kms would make us feel better both mentally and physically and help to increase our activity, stretching ourselves to reach the goal.
- Having goals (even small ones), as long as they are realistic and don’t add unnecessary pressure, can give us a sense of direction and can help us to challenge ourselves to perservere and push that little bit further.
During this 52k there have been times (normally in line with my monthly cycle- PMS is a horrible thing!) when getting up from the sofa and putting on my shoes and coat and going out for a walk has felt too much. At times the anxiety of leaving the house has felt a big hurdle. Without a doubt, as long as it wasn’t too ambitious a goal that had then left me with too much pressure and fearful of failure (that is the perfectionism and a whole other hurdle!) then having a goal always helps me be able to 1. acknowledge and accept the feelings of anxiety, no matter how uncomfortable they are and 2. to ultimately tell them to do one and commit to a pattern of behaviour (in this case my walks) that are going to get me closer to the goal and action I have previously decided upon.
- Breaking things down into manageable chunks and chipping away at them really is a case of ‘slow and steady wins the race’. It also helps to pace our efforts so that on days where we are feeling physically exhausted or mentally drained we can be kind to ourselves, listen to our bodies and minds and do what we need to without feeling guilty that we are not being productive or letting ourselves or others down.
Often in life I have times where I can feel overwhelmed and just don’t know where to start or what to do next. My perfectionism means I often struggle to feel accomplished and satisfied with anything I achieve. I can often only see the faults, the imperfections or the things left undone. When we set out on the 52k at the end of May for me it felt like a big, insurmountable task. For many with better fitness levels than myself this wouldn’t have seemed a lot at all but not only have I not particularly had fitness on my side, as Lockdown life had continued my mental health had suffered and motivation levels for activity and my courage to leave the house, on days I felt anxious, were very real. I have reflected however that by breaking the 52k down over a month it was manageable day to day to keep chipping away at the total. On better days I could stretch myself and try longer walks and for days where I was struggling I could either give myself a days’ grace or just do a quick km round the block before bed. In contrast to my often ‘all or nothing’ thinking, and my desire to be an expert and have achieved all my goals yesterday, it has been a physical reminder that by splitting bigger tasks it allows us to concentrate on the smaller, more manageable task in a much more mindful way. All of these small wins and achievements really do have an impact, they matter and can make all the difference!
- Remembering your journey is unique and will have twists and turns but that is ok. It is ok not to be ok and to at times need to reach out to others for help and intervention.
One mistake I could have made to my approach to this 52k would have been to compare myself to my fellow fundraisers and think less of myself for the journey I have taken, the routes and activity mode I have used. “I haven’t done the whole 52k in one day so I have failed” “I wish I was fitter so I could have run the 52k rather than walking it” “a number of years ago I would have been fitter and more able to do this at a quicker pace”. All of these negative thoughts would have only set to steal my joy and sense of achievement in having done this to the best of my ability given the circumstances and environment I find myself in right now. I have learnt that comparing myself to others and their mental health journeys can often also lead to me feeling discouraged and self-critical. I instead now choose to talk to others about what they have found helpful to support their mental health and then pick and mix my own ‘mental health first aid kit’ and self-care routine. Some things that help others may not help you, or you may find that you have to tweak things slightly differently. I know that my tendency towards perfectionism often means that I need to watch that I don’t end up self-sabotage plans that were intended to be helpful and to always check in that I am being kind to myself and not asking too much.
Keep on going, wherever you are on your journey and whether your mental health is currently in a good or a bad state. Know that it is OK to reach out and ask for help when you are struggling- it doesn’t make you a failure, just human!
Week 3 Update as of 18/06/2020
HUGE SHOUT OUT TO KATRINA WHO HAS COMPLETED HER 52k!!
We are on the home straight! And instead of finishing the post with photos from the week I want to leave with the below;
I want to take a moment to say Happy Fathers Day to the man who we are raising money in memory of, David Rose.