What was the 25 press ups for 25 days challenge?

Do, 25 press ups for 25 days. Simple. Nominate someone new each day to take up the challenge.  The aim was to raise awareness for men’s mental health, anxiety, ptsd and suicide in particular.  To be fair I’m not sure where the challenge started as I received a nomination from a friend. However, just yesterday I saw https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk are raising money for this challenge in the UK.  Other charities across the world are doing the same https://events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/25for25/25-push-ups-for-25-days and above all, whether you might think raising money is key in a challenge, you can just do it for yourself.

Why did I take on the 25 press ups in 25 days challenge?

  1. My friend nominated me and I felt I didn’t want to say no.  Some people I would have ignored, mainly because I’m not a ‘challenge’ type of person.
  2. Just because I’m a woman and in fitness and wellness, I felt that the message of doing press ups and for men’s mental health was just as relevant because I am surrounded by men in life.
  3. I never put any videos of myself on social media, so what a great opportunity to start.

Week 1 of the 25 press ups in 25 days challenge – 

What a great way to open a discussion through sharing the ‘challenge’ of talking about mental illness, difficulties and wellness.  I got my 25 press ups in every day.  I looked up some stats, research and helplines that support men specifically.  My experience and knowledge was shared on IGtv.  As I went through the days, I felt the weight of 25 days ahead and realised that doing 25 press ups was actually bigger than the simplistic title.  I didn’t have words for how I felt about it in week one, but as only a few people took up my nomination, I did feel a bit of a wally.  The 25 press ups challenge started during COVID lockdown and when the black lives matter movement hit a major peak with George Floyd injustices. It was a big week, so I felt that it was something to focus on and would keep me working towards something.

Week 2 of 25 press ups in 25 days challenge.

I felt tired, my body was telling me to slow down.  I was pushing off the challenge and playing catch up with myself.  Noticing more and more that people I nominated did not take up the challenge. This felt like a weird rejection but I didn’t want this feeling to stop me continuing.  The experience of the challenge and my internal thoughts felt much more powerful than the press ups themselves.

Week 3-4 of 25 press ups in 25 days challenge.

Other things took over in life and I didn’t prioritise it.  The 25 press up challenge felt like a challenge that I didn’t want to complete and had lost interest in.  But also felt guilt about not sticking to my normal very good boundaries of committing to things and seeing them through.

Finishing the 25 press ups in 25 days challenge.

I moved the goal posts.  I did do 25 press in 25 days, I just didn’t document them in the way I’d hoped.  My press ups came in my own workouts that I wasn’t directly thinking about ‘doing’ the press ups.  I work out 4-6 times a week so it wasn’t uncommon to do press ups for me.  Actually, during my workouts I was doing more than double 25 press ups.

However, I gave myself a hard time, that I wasn’t ‘showing up’ with the challenge.  I wasn’t committed to what I’d started and moving the goal posts felt like something I shouldn’t have done.

Saying goodbye to the challenge –

This was my final social media post https://www.instagram.com/tv/CCk7aeMnTBF/?igshid=1a2g2xprow0xt.  It felt like I dragged my whole body and mind to this line (which sounds quite dramatic, but I made it this big in my mind).  But actually, the thinking that happened along the way was hugely important and the reason I share it, is because maybe this challenge can open up conversations for your family?

Finding language for emotions and labelling them is really important. I’ve written posts about it https://powex.co.uk/emotions https://powex.co.uk/why-identify-emotion/.  But sometimes people don’t know what language to use because it feels alien to them.  My years of working in mental health has shown me that when people are ‘doing a thing’ like going for a walk, they find talking easier. Maybe this 25 press ups in 25 days challenge is a way for you to talk to the men in your life?

What have I learned from the challenge?

The 25 press ups in 25 days challenge is not actually about the physical ability to do 25 press ups.  Any one can do a variety of a press up (https://www.instagram.com/tv/CBP_giEnUNi/?igshid=g3iilxgxieas).The challenge is about the mental challenges that come.  For me:

  1. I feel penned in by goals.  This isn’t new, even reading a new book, getting to the end makes me feel penned in.
  2. When life throws other things in the way, sometimes the goal posts need to be rejigged.  Listening to my body and mind was priority during this challenge as life was very unusual and forcing myself to complete the challenge may have brought up more difficult feelings that I couldn’t manage at the time.  I was already overwhelmed, I didn’t need any more.
  3. You can’t really fail at goal setting, I just didn’t start with the right goal for me at the time.  Someone else’s goal doesn’t always fit you.
  4. Sometimes you just have to ‘do the thing’ rather than waiting for the motivation, inspiration, drive.  Which is the opposite of keeping to the goal, but there were days where I had to do this too.  Both can be true at the same time (a dialectic).
  5. Doing the thing takes energy that I didn’t feel I had.
  6. When is the right time to decide to rejig the goal?  This thinking can lead to a whole other layer of feelings (worthlessness, can’t commit, self sabotage) to name a few – which can lead to all sorts of anxieties and low mood.

How can this challenge encourage men (or anyone) to talk?

Does a man in your life say they are going to start something (gym, healthy eating, cut back on spending) and not actually do it?  Do they ever talk about the why?  Does the man you are thinking of express that the reason they didn’t embark on the goal was because they felt anxious about getting something wrong?  Were they open about feeling overwhelmed by where to start with healthy eating?  Was there an open discussion about the stress that comes with over spending?  Maybe not?

My experience having worked with all different cultural backgrounds has shown me that, different ethnic groups particularly struggle with talking about mental health.  This is in part due to shame and the ‘male role’ that is set in societal ideals and this could be a reason why more ethnic minorities, particularly males end up sectioned on mental health wards.  I know that the Bangladeshi community don’t have certain words in their language for mental health terminology in the UK.  Some African backgrounds have a more spiritual understanding of some mental illnesses, which removes the ability for a person to be able to truly express to their nearest and dearest how they are feeling in the way that we in the UK understand mental illness.

Men’s mental health –

Men statistically are more likely to ‘act’ rather than talk at times of mental difficulty. Counselling Directory https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/men-and-mental-health-stats.html highlight that women are diagnosed more with common mental health problems but men have a higher rate of suicide.  Men show their behaviour through actions, rather than talking about them.  Men go missing and sleep rough (run away).  Male’s go to prison (fight or get caught doing something wrong).  Men have a higher likelihood of developing a problem with substances (escapism).  https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z//m/men-and-mental-health give more statistics showing this.

Taking on a challenge like the 25 press up challenge could be a gateway opening for you and the men in your life to talk.  The press ups may feel difficult on one day and not on another – maybe ask why this is?  What is the difficulty?  Are they physically tired or is it that their mind doesn’t want to take on the challenge.  Building a talking pattern takes time and practice.  If your man or son or dad is more likely to engage in a physical activity than talk – make the physical activity the place where you talk?  A walk?  The gym?  On bikes?  In the car?

How I can help you find ways to talk to your men – 

  1. My motto is all about safe openness and transparency.  Maybe you struggle to communicate your own feelings but hope others will share theirs?  I can help you find confidence in labelling your emotions and bringing up difficult subjects?
  2. Maybe the goal you or your partner have set was too big and needs rejigging.  Outsider eyes are magic sometimes.  I can help.
  3. If you’ve set a goal that you haven’t achieved (fitness or wellness), I can support you in thinking that you haven’t failed, you just haven’t found the right way yet.
  4. Talking about the process is the process.  I have worked with people for months to years, because life is a process and things change all the time.
  5. Where you end isn’t always where the goal was set but may actually be a better place for you at that time.

Get in touch –

Get in touch if any of this resonates with you. Do you need some outside eyes to help you think about your wellness goals? DoCould your confidence be improved in opening up conversations? Do you need guidance in understanding how to access more help that may support you or your family?

Do you want to take up the 25 press ups for 25 days with my help?

If things are worse than you realise for your mental health – https://powex.co.uk/why-talk-and-where-to-find-it/