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5 ways a Dream Challenge can improve your mental health

Conquering an incredible challenge for charity can be hard. It takes dedication, courage and amazing mental strength to keep to a regular training routine, trek or cycle in an unfamiliar destination for days on end with people you don't know and finally, cross that finish line.

It speaks wonders about your personality if you take the plunge, and if you keep up your positive mental attitude, you'll be on your way to achieving your Dream Challenge in no time.

Never forget what you're training for, the difference you'll make for the charity closest to your heart and the unbelievable sense of achievement you'll get when you reach your fitness goal. Moreover, taking on a charity challenge can really improve your mental health, even in the darker months. Here's why.

1. Sweat off the stress
When you commit to one of our challenges, you give yourself an incentive to go for regular treks or bike rides. A Science Direct study showed that this type of aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety. It can even help lower your chances of a panic attack and even prevent you from developing an anxiety disorder. This is because regular exercise can reduce levels of stress hormones in the body, like adrenaline and cortisol, and at the same time, boost your levels of serotonin and dopamine, which tend to make you feel happier and more energised.

2. Enjoy the great outdoors

All of our Dream Challenges get you out into the air, whether you're cycling through the night around London, hiking in the amazing Indian or Nepalese Himalayas or even trekking deep into the Amazon Rainforest. What's more, while training for your challenge, you're likely to spend way more time in nature than you usually do, as you trek and cycle in your local area.

According to Psychologies, spending time surrounded by nature has been proven to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. It can even make you live longer. Time outdoors can also help you think and focus more clearly, and in some cases, it can affect your creativity and social skills.

You can benefit just from spending a short time outdoors, but the more time you can spend surrounded by nature, the better.  

Psychologies cites a Japanese study, where participants spent three days in a forest. The results found their time in the forest to lower their heart rate and raise their levels of white blood cells, which help to fight infections, by 50%.

If only three days in a forest has this big an impact on your mental and physical wellbeing, think how much you'll benefit from cycling or trekking in Sri Lanka for a week!

3. There's no such thing as a selfless good deed

That's because doing something kind, like fundraising for an important cause, makes you feel amazing!

Experts from the Mental Health Foundation have revealed that helping others can benefit your mental health and wellbeing by reducing stress and improving your self-esteem and happiness.

Helping others and volunteering (or fundraising in your case) for charity is thought to be especially advantageous, as it helps you to create, maintain, and strengthen your social connections. You could make new friends and connect with your community.

4. Make a group of awesome friends

According to Psychology Today, connecting to others can do wonders for your mental and physical health. By socialising, you can reduce your risk of dementia, strengthen your immune system and decrease feelings of depression. 

As we get older, it can be hard to make new friends, but you'll have no trouble connecting with others when you join us on a challenge. The Dream Challenges camaraderie is second to none. We have seen so many people sign up solo to a challenge and by the end, they make lifelong friends - even signing up to their next challenge together!

5. Tell your fear of failure to go

Sure, it can be scary to think about the challenge you’re taking on, especially if you miss a few training sessions. That negative voice in your head can convince you that you’ll never be able to reach the finish line. But that’s a lie. You can achieve your Dream Challenge and the sense of achievement you’ll get at the finish line is like no other.

It’s not just about the initial thrill or the boost in self esteem. Stepping outside your comfort zone and beating your fear of failure has proven benefits on your mental health.

An article from Psychologies Today explains how you will never decrease your fear of change and new experiences if you avoid them. You may even grow more afraid. But by facing them head on, you can learn new things, experience personal growth and give your life more meaning.

In any case, there’s no need to worry about “failing” on a Dream Challenge and here's why:

  • We provide you with a fantastic training plan that builds up over time. Try and stick to your schedule and you'll be ready in no time!
  • There’s no need to race! Our challenges are non-competitive.
  • We have ample support and often a backup vehicle, so no one is ever left behind or put under pressure to keep up to a fast pace.
  • Our expertly crafted itineraries give you time to acclimatise to the new environment and take scheduled breaks throughout the day.
  • A few months before we depart for our overseas challenges, we have a training weekend! You can gauge your fitness and get a taste of what you can expect from our challenge. PLUS, our training weekend will be a fantastic chance to meet your Challenge Leaders and your fellow participants.
  • We have a UK doctor with an expedition medicine qualification and a team of outdoor remote first aid challenge guides on hand throughout every challenge.

Don't have a challenge to train for?

If you haven't signed up to one of our exciting challenges, why not give yourself even more reason to train and book today? We have all sorts of adventures that will change your life for the better, from trekking the Great Wall of China to tracking gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Rainforest in Uganda, to cycling from Mumbai to Goa... and the list goes on!

You can trek for Mental Health, cycle for people affected by cancer or join our spectacular Big Heart Bike Ride for heart charities and cardiac wards.

Before you worry about fundraising, we've got you covered with ten ways to fundraise in self-isolation, which you can check out here.

Whatever your dream and whatever your cause, we can practically guarantee we've got a challenge to get you moving. See our full range of adventures here and register today to secure your place.

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