Leading by example & supporting mental health

11 December 2018

Leading by example & supporting mental health

Thirty4thirty is a unique and inspiring challenge that Expedition Leader Abbi Naylor set herself to complete in her 30th year. During 2018 she entered 30 endurance events to raise money for the mental health charity Young Minds. As Abbi nears the end of her challenge, she spills the beans on some of the highs and lows, how she looks after her mental health, and has some advice for others on staying positive:

“I love the outdoors, most of the time I am outdoors doing something physical; if I can’t go outdoors for a day I really feel my positivity decrease. 

Training and exercise plays a huge role in my positive mental health. Each event gives me a goal (I normally would do 1 or 2 per year), the exercise makes me feel good, it also makes me feel good about my body and how strong and capable it is.

A challenge this year that I didn’t expect to be tough was called the Nuts Run, it was my shortest distant event at only 14km, but it had 200 obstacles. The date of the event also meant it fell during the Beast from the East. All of my team mates dropped out and most other participants also deferred to the summer course, so I ran by myself. I was one of the first runners and had to break through 5 inch thick ice to get over the lakes and obstacles. I have never been so cold in my life. I could hardly talk or walk at the end. Believe me there were a lot of tears! 

The best moment was finishing the 100 mile ultra marathon and realising I had come third! I didn’t even know if that distance was possible for me to run let alone do so well.

What I’ve learnt

I have 5 tips for maintaining a positive mental attitude:

  1. Be active and get outside;
  2. Connect with other people (not through technology);
  3. Keep learning (an expedition is a great forum fo this);
  4. Take notice of the small things;
  5. Be kind to yourself.

I would encourage everyone to find their own way to a positive mental attitude. To keep this attitude takes work and commitment but it is worth it. For me, it is exercise and maybe taking on a challenge per year to push myself both physically and mentally. The challenges don’t have to be as big as mine or involve exercise. I think I great challenge which ticks a lot of my 5 tips is reading 20 pages of a novel per day.”

Read more about Abbi’s epic year on her blog, and click here to make a donation to Young Minds.