Stress Challenge Day 2: Commit

Today’s chapter was an interesting one. Obviously committing to the challenge is a must, but this really opened my eyes to what would happen if I did or didn’t work my way through. When things get hard later down the track, or I’m completely uncomfortable with the challenges I face, through working through this chapter I can help keep things in perspective.

The chapter asked four important questions, which I’ve documented below. I expect that I’m going to be re-reading this post quite a few times during the course of the month.

But first, my summary:

Stress level (rating of 1-10; 10 being worst)? 6
Notes: I returned back to work today so I actually expected to be a lot higher. I made an effort to focus on listing out the things that were stressing me and that I needed to think about later, “parked it”, and got back to the business at hand. I don’t think that’s a long-term strategy, but it got me through today. I ended up canning my plans for the evening (a meetup group) so I could spend the night relaxing at home, focusing on getting in some good work/life balance habits. So even though my list of stresses has grown, I’ve made a concentrated effort to leave it at the door, go home on time, and chill out – all of that resulted in a maintained level of 6.

Now to get down to business with the questions for the day!

What benefits am I hoping for and why?

I’m hoping for a much higher quality of life. Not only with a work/life balance, but also through mood stability (less dips in my moods caused by burn out or stress), and better health as my body isn’t strained and my immune system suffers.

I also hope that I’ll be able to be more productive in all areas of my life, as I hopefully will have more focus on the things that are important to me, for me. Obviously my partner, family and friends are important to me, but I’m talking about the activities that directly improve my life. For example my fitness and my education; I’m doing a bit of study after hours on areas to improve my skills e.g. web development.

I also hope for my weight to drop substantially as I cope with stress better. One of my ways to deal with stress is by turning to food – both binge eating and general bad food choices. When I’m not stressed, and when I’m exercising, I find that I naturally am drawn towards better nutrition.

 

What will my life look like if I keep on going as I always have?

This question scared me. I was able to grasp the full picture of where I am right now, face the reality of some decisions I had made in the past and contemplate the future. I didn’t like it.

I would foresee that I would be depressed. I think I’ve already walked a fine line and danced on the edge of depression already, albeit temporarily. Not being able to get off the couch for a day is completely unlike the me of a few years ago, where every day held opportunity and excitement. I like to think of myself as someone that enjoys the adventure of life and experiencing new things, and when I was at my most stressed a few weeks ago that light was completely switched off. I wanted to be in my cave. If I didn’t change anything, I could very easily see myself remaining in that cave permanently. I probably wouldn’t even have a job – I would have either quit or been fired had I kept with a defeated attitude.

I could see myself being extremely unhealthy and overweight. Here’s a secret – I was borderline taking up an eating disorder just recently. Not even Mario is really aware of the extent of this. I was binge eating in secret, already a concern, but a few months ago I found myself on two occasions binge eating and then making myself throw up afterwards (due to the complete shame and regret of what I had done). Once I clicked what I was doing I snapped out of it pretty quickly, and I’m so thankful that I had the self-awareness to get myself out of that situation. I haven’t been so good at getting out of the binge eating arena, but at least I wasn’t doing additional damage to my insides or becoming bulimic. Right now, if I don’t find a way to manage stress I know that I would continue with my binge eating habits. As it is, I’ve been tracking how many days I can go without binging, and I’m on day 23 – very proud!

The most scary concept to me is losing my partner. This is on the extreme level, and I know this would only happen after an extended period of time. I have the most amazing and supportive fiancé, and it would take a lot for him to leave. I would have to be in a funk and unwilling to get myself out of it. I would need to be resisting all help. I would need for him to be pushed right to the point of giving up on me. It would have to be at the point where he had spent so much time focused on the stressed me that he’s forgotten the real me, and why he loves me. He will probably fight me on this point and say that he wouldn’t leave, but honestly, how can you contemplate a future and a family with someone that can’t cope with every day life, and not willing to snap out of it?

 

Why have I resisted changing up till now? 

I actually don’t think I have. I think it’s more that I haven’t really truly understood that I needed to change.

I knew in the past I was stressed, and that I wasn’t entirely sure of how to address it. But I never thought I didn’t want to change, or resisted it. It was just that I didn’t realise the severity of it, and I definitely hadn’t contemplated what would happen if I didn’t do something about it. Had I contemplated the question above I probably would have thought otherwise. As it was, I thought that my level of stress was pretty normal for anyone working a full time job, particularly in a management role. It wasn’t until I actually burned out that I was able to identify that it was on an extreme level.

 

What are the excuses I’m already telling myself for why I don’t have to do the challenge?

As we know, I’d already started reading this book before and stopped when I thought everything was OK. That’s going to be something I’m going to be reminding myself of through this challenge, and why I expect to re-read this post. Things are not OK. I do need to do this challenge.

I know my life is going to get busy again, I started back at work today and there are going to be commitments that will eat up my time (things out of work included). I will probably try to tell myself that it’s OK to skip a day and that I can address it the next day.

No. I need to do this now.

This needs to be my number 1 focus.

Otherwise look at what will happen if I don’t change. I don’t want that life. I want to be happy Kelly, who is up in the morning out in the fresh air exercising because I love it, not that I feel I have to do it. I want to be the Kelly who has energy and a thirst for life again. I want to be the Kelly that is such an amazing partner to my fiancé, that he considers himself lucky every single day. I want to be a positive influence that improves the life of those around her.

Screw the excuses. To my future self, stop whining, stop bitching, shut up and focus.

This post is part of my 21-Day Stress challenge; for more information please see my background post here.