Face Up To The Challenge
Your task for this first day of the 31 Days To A Less Stressful Life Challenge series is to ask yourself this question:
'Am I ready to make a change?'
Everyone needs a little stress in our lives — it's what makes life exciting and interesting. The problem is that acute stress — when your body reacts to a situation that looks challenging as it is evolved to do — can easily slip into a situation when your flight or fight hormones never stop pumping.
That's when long-term or chronic stress sets in, which can create a host of problems for you both physically and emotionally.
Here's another question:
'If I could find a way to eliminate any unnecessary suffering on my behalf, would I do it?'
That's the question I asked myself a few years back. Today I'm as productive as ever. The difference is that I'm also happier, less worried and anxious and consequently much healthier as a result.
Look Yourself In The Mirror — What Do you See?
It's all too easy to avoid taking action when you're stressed. It's really part of the problem and I know how hard it is to face up to reality from first-hand experience.
Back in 2015, I hit the wall through a combination of pressures which eventually led to a bit of a health scare. It was a massive wake-up call for me and it made me reassess everything about how I was leading my life at the time.
I'd been aware that stress had a grip on me at some level, but I was busy ignoring all the warning signs. I kept telling myself that it was an inevitable part of having a big, responsible job and being serious about the duties of a father and husband to provide for the family.
I remember thinking I had to stay tough and keep going. In reality though, I was becoming unfit and unhealthy and sooner or later a crunch was probably inevitable.
Three years on and I’m happier and healthier than ever. I can confirm that it’s possible to make a shift that changes everything. In fact, knowing this is one of my motivations in pulling this series together. I only wish I'd been able to make changes earlier in my life.
Had I done so, I would have been far happier.
One of the traps that people fall into — and I was one of them — is believing that you’re locked into a situation with no way out. This might be because of financial worries, family obligations, or work pressures for example.
It’s really important to realize that you’ve always got at least one more move to make, whatever your situation. This really hit home when I read Victor Frankl’s masterpiece Man’s Search For Meaning.
Faced with the brutality and mortality all around him in Auschwitz, Frankl concluded:
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way" — Victor Frankl
If Victor Frankl could come to that conclusion in this most extreme situation, so can you and I.
Remember, it's only when you acknowledge the size and scale of a challenge that you can start to mount an effective response.
The challenge I'm setting today might sound like an unnecessary step — you already know if you are stressed after all!
It’s still a challenge that I would urge you to take.
Halt the runaway train of your busy life just for a moment and step off. Take a look at your situation and ask yourself if this is truly the way you want your life to be?
Over the next month I'm going to show you how I made changes in my life. Every one of the challenges I'll set are based on actions I took myself. You don't have to do them all — some of them worked for me while others didn't work as well.
The point is that you won't know what will make the biggest difference for you unless you try them out for yourself.
Get Some Information About Your Level Of Stress
You can start facing up to the challenge by taking the quiz below. The results are confidential so I can’t see them.
It uses the Perceived Stress Scale which is an evidence-based tool and allows you to get a feel for how much stress you're under compared to the rest of the population.
It'll only take a minute or two to complete. Armed with the results you'll understand a little more about your situation and how it compares to the control group for your age, sex, and gender. You can read more about the questionnaire here.
I think this is an important moment.
I hope that you don’t wait like I did for a health issue to force your hand. You can take action and I promise you it’s possible, with effort and commitment, to emerge stronger and happier into a new and improved phase of your life.
In tomorrow's post I'll look at how to identify your stress signals. In the meantime, don't forget to visit the 31 Day Homepage were you'll find links to all the articles and other resources.
- What Is Stress Management About?
- 7 Habits That Build Improved Stress Resilience
- Outsourcing Tasks — How To Win Your Battle With Stress
How Stressed Are You?
Am I Ready To Make A Change?
Based on what you've learned by taking the test and perhaps after a little reflection, I'm challenging you to answer this question:
'Am I ready to make a change?'
If you're ready to face up to the challenge, there'll be plenty of actionable advice to come in this series. Everything I suggest is based on experiments which I carried myself out in my search for a better way to lead my life.
Not everything's going to work for you — but you're not going to find out what does, unless you try them out for yourself.
I'm offering 31 different ways to make a change in your life. Over the next month, if you stay the course I'm confident you're going to find a few things that work for you. When you do, share what you've discovered by leaving a comment.
Being stressed can be a lonely experience — as it can lead to feelings of isolation and introspection. Consequently, seeing what other people are doing to help themselves can be very empowering.
So if you've found something that works, share it. Your comment might make the difference for someone who really needs it.
Share What You've Learned By Leaving A Comment Below
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