Let's create a mentally healthier world :)
While I have never been diagnosed with a mental illness, I know now for most of my young adult life and into my early 30’s my mental health was average at best.
I had a lot of genuine fun in my 20’s embracing like many of my peers a very hedonistic lifestyle, but this way of living for me started to take its toll and aggravate underlying problems. The reality was for most of those years anxious and insecure thinking and painful emotions were always lurking close by. I learned early on to put on a positive, confident and “together” version of me for the outside world as best I could in an attempt to hide the inside me, which especially in later years, overthought everything, felt fragile and far from together.
Most significantly, nearly every single weekend for 15 or so years I chose to significantly abuse my body with food, alcohol and drugs, often all at once, as my way to relax, connect, find joy and take a break from my day to day. I had no idea how ingrained this lifestyle and these habits had gotten until they started catching up with me and I tried to change. But I couldn’t. Week after week, month after month, internal pep talk after internal pep talk, I had small wins here and there but mostly, for years, I continued to fail over and over again to change my behaviour.
In my mind, I concluded I must lack the willpower or self-control of other people and those thoughts chipped away even further at my self-esteem until much heavier feelings of shame, confusion, anger, sadness and ‘brokenness’ started to join me regularly. I remember thinking “Maybe I am stuck this way?”
And for me personally, that thought was suffocating and the scariest of all.
So I finally decided to get help. In all honesty, the current system failed me a number of times, but a combination of determination and fear refused to let me stop until I had answers. When finally, some years later I found tools that worked for me and I started to make progress quickly, the ELATION of taking back control of my life trumped any high I had ever paid for. I felt truly free for the first time in A LONG time.
Flash forward to this very strange and uncertain new world we live in, and I can’t help but feel especially grateful for the tools I now have that continue to fill my life every day with more love, energy, inspiration and happiness.
At the same time, like many others I'm sure, I am incredibly conscious that far too many beautiful souls out there, perhaps for fear of reaching out, or bad previous experiences in the current system, or for many other reasons, are heading down a darker path.
We all have the right to live a beautiful and fulfilling existence that comes when we embrace wonderful mental health practises but the reality is these practises and tools are simply not, in my opinion, shared or understood widely enough in both our professional or social support systems. Combine this with a dangerously “normalised” hedonistic culture, ongoing stigma and confusion around what mental health actually means and it’s no surprise the mental health statistics in this country are so heartbreaking.
However, the most important truth is, THE TOOLS TO HELP ARE THERE. And when we choose to be brave, reach out for support, and develop them, our whole world as we know it can change.
For me, the basic act of moving my precious body every day has snapped me out of more low moments than I care to remember, and I know with every part of my being this tool to be one of the most undervalued and simple that we can use to cultivate mental health and wellbeing.
So that’s why over the next 100 days, I will be taking 1,000,000 steps (for my own mental health!) but more importantly to raise awareness and money for the incredible Black Dog Institute, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by poor mental health here in Australia and around the world.
Finally, one of the biggest drivers of change for me has been (and still is) experiencing the vulnerability of others sharing their real and honest journeys of change. So over these next 100 days I would also like to share along the way resources I love that have helped me and what I have learned personally in the hope it resonates and may help some of you.
With that, here’s how you can help me and this wonderful cause!
DONATE - Hit the donate button on this page, AND THANK YOU!! Every precious dollar that you can manage counts and will help drive the Black Dog Institute's incredible mission “to significantly reduce the incidence of mental illness and suicide, remove stigma and empower all people to live the most mentally healthy life possible.”
JOIN ME! I would sure love the company! You can join me in taking 1,000,000 steps in 100 days (10,000 steps per day) OR pick any movement-based goal that slightly scares but also excites you and makes you think "Maybe I could do that!!" Just imagine how great you're going to feel in 100 days and all for a good cause???
STEP 1 - PLEDGE YOUR CHALLENGE
Fill out this super quick form below and let me know which challenge you’re going to do. You can choose an option or create your own movement challenge!
STEP 2 - SET UP YOUR STEP TRACKING APP
Every iPhone has a built-in app called ‘Health’ (or you can download it from the app store) once you enter your details and turn on tracking this app will automatically track your steps whenever you move, walk, run etc. Here's a guide to help. https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT203037 Most Android phones have something similar, otherwise, head to your app store and download any tracking app - Fitbit, MapMyWalk/Run, Strava app are all great options!
Even better if you have a smart wearable watch like a Fitbit, Garmin, Apple, or Samsung watch linked to your phone then of course just use that! Fitbit being a cheaper option around $100 these days. This is a great option as it doesn't require you to have your phone on you and tracks all of your incremental steps throughout the day!
STEP 3 - ENTER YOUR STEPS EACH WEEK + JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP
Every Sunday night/Monday check your step-tracking app for the previous week Monday through to Sundays steps and enter them in this form below.
HOW TO TRACK OTHER MOVEMENT THAT DOESN’T INVOLVE STEPS
(e.g. cycling, swimming, dancing, pilates, gardening - use the below guide to convert your activity into steps)
10 minutes of moderate-intensity activity = 1,000 steps Moderate-intensity activity causes a slight, but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. You should be able to maintain a conversation. Some examples of moderate-intensity activity include: Swimming, Cycling, Horse riding, Rowing, Dancing, Active gardening (e.g. mowing, raking and digging)
10 minutes of high-intensity activity = 2,000 steps High-intensity activity makes you “huff and puff” and is where talking full sentences between breaths is difficult. Some examples of high-intensity activity include: Circuit training, Aerobics, Brisk rowing, Fast cycling, Jogging, Competitive sport (e.g. squash, football and netball)
IF YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR OWN FUNDRAISING PAGE TO SHARE
I’m not asking fellow challengers to pro-actively raise money but if you do want to then click on the link below and create your profile - this will create a unique fundraising profile link for you that you can send to your friends and family to donate to you specifically. All donations via your link will help me reach my $5000 goal but be attributed to you!
PASS THIS FUNDRAISING PAGE ON - now more than ever we need to connect and support each other with our mental health, so let's not do this alone. The more we talk, share and spread the word the better!!
CHEER US ON - I'm going to need, as I'm sure will my fellow movers, some cheering on at times! So please show us SOME LOVE over the next 100 days when you can!
Sending love and HUGE virtual hugs to you all! (Can’t wait for a bloody real one!)
Thank you to our Sponsors
Dan & Kate Mahar
Coytey And Muffy