For our Self-harm Awareness Day 2017 Campaign, we were thinking about what men need in terms of encouraging them to speak out about their mental health. In this blog, Ben, a trainee Youth Worker currently living in Oundle, reflects on his struggles with over exercising and why it's important to just be yourself.

If I said I was obsessed with having the perfect body or being able to run 10 Miles in under an hour and wanted, in general be the most perfect version of myself, would you identify with this too?

I go to the gym at least 4-5 times a week, play rugby and run 5 miles most weekends! I know that exercise isn’t bad, we should strive stay active and should stay healthy, but is there are limit? How much is too much? Well, as I write this blog, my right arm is currently bandaged up due to pushing myself to far in the gym. I may want to look great or be the fastest and most athletic person, but there comes a point when I can end up hurting myself instead.

Part of why I exercise as much as I do is the release I feel, but it’s mainly to do with how I want to look. I would love to be 6 foot 6 with a six pack and arms the size of a professional wrestler, but in reality I’m fairly skinny in comparison to what I have just described. This does affect me in a negative way, when I look around and see big built men or the athletes on TV, it plants an image in my head of what I am meant to look like.

I know I won’t ever be 6 foot 6 (Because I have stopped growing) and I won’t have muscles the size of mountains (Because I’m just not built that way) but by going to the gym and seeing guys twice my size, running faster than me or jumping higher than me can lead me to think, “What’s wrong with me? I can’t do that?”. The truth is though, there is nothing wrong with me or you either!

As a youth worker I spend all my time around young people who are younger but a lot bigger than me,  I have begun to realise that’s okay, I am simply not the same, I am unique in my own right. No one else in the world looks exactly like me, and I should be proud of that. I am a Christian and believe God made me in His perfect image, so I must accept that this is me, maybe you believe something different but whether it is fate or God or some other Devine power, you were made unique, as you.

There is no one else in the world that is the same as you! Yes, we could make ourselves better, we could do something to be like ‘Big Dave’ from the gym, but why not just be you? We should try to stay healthy, but we should also just be who we were intended to be, be unique, be yourself, don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to the people around you, be authentic. You are you, and you are perfect as you are.

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