During the month of March, ten thousand university students up and down the country chose to take on the challenge of running twenty-seven miles over twenty-seven days, with the aim of raising as much money as possible for the mental health charity Mind.
Why twenty-seven? Twenty-seven represents the number of students who will encounter a mental health problem while studying at university. In reality, this figure is much likely to be higher, as the stigma surrounding mental health prevents those suffering to reach out for much-needed support.
As someone who suffers with mental health problems, this seemed like a great thing to take-up, in order to help raise awareness and funds for a really positive cause. What I did not expect, however, is that the challenge would also help on a personal level.
The challenge has reiterated the connection between physical and mental health, and how important it is to get yourself moving, even on days when you cannot think of anything worse. Pushing myself to leave the comfort of my home, even when I felt mentally unable to do so, gave me a real sense of purpose, and helped lift my mood when I presumed it could not be changed. It helped convert what I was feeling on the inside into a more physical, tangible sensation, allowing me to feel what I was struggling to untangle mentally. In other words, physical movement helped to clear the brain and move out any unnecessary negativity that festered within.
Running twenty-seven miles in such a short space of time is enough to cause aches and pains to even the most avid runner. It has undoubtedly been a physical challenge, but one that felt more doable as the miles ran by. With each mile that passed, I felt a bit more able to take on the next, which can also be applied to life itself.
Challenging yourself in small increments will lead to big sustainable change. Taking the leap to move outside of your comfort zone and try something new is the most difficult step you will take on any new journey, but with each action that follows, things will eventually become easier and easier until you begin to question why you ever doubted yourself in the first place.
I urge you all to take on a challenge. Whether it be for charity or not, setting yourself an aim gives you focus and forces you to defeat something seemingly bigger than yourself. It boosts confidence and leaves you feeling positive about yourself. For those who accepted the 27/27 Challenge for Mind – congratulations and keep going! So far £650,373.92 has been raised nationwide, with £6593.61 being raised by University of Southampton students, which is an incredible achievement.
If you would like to donate to my own 27/27 Challenge, then go to givepenny.com/elliegriffiths22 – every pound or penny you can donate is greatly appreciated, and will be used to fund vital services that literally save lives.