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The Difference Between Challenge and Stress

There is one…right?

I have a habit of signing myself up for shit I Do Not Want to Do in the hope that I Will Once It Comes Around.

I do this because if I didn’t, I’d be living squarely inside my comfort zone and Me in a year would be identical to Me today. But older.

And I’m a big fan of getting out of one’s comfort zone regularly. This article explains why and how:

But that doesn’t mean I find any of this easy. Mainly because, a lot of the time, I’m just as overwhelmed by something now as I was when Past Me signed me up for it.


And I’m currently 55 hours away from doing an hour long talk about my 20,000 mile voyage and subsequent book to an audience of fifty people.

Oof. An hour? I mean, that’s 60 minutes. I could watch two episodes of Fleabag in that time. I could cook a lasagne. I could do plenty of less scary things.

Each time a talk appears on the horizon I tell myself the same thing, ‘this will be the last one. I will not agree to any more.’

And it got me thinking, what’s the difference between a good challenge and just unnecessary stress?

Challenges, from jumping out of a plane to trying an experimental recipe, are innately stressful.

When you step onto new territory, you brain has its work cut out. It’s on high alert for danger. Any kind of danger. It might be freefalling to the ground or it might be ruining dinner and forcing your family to eat cheese sandwiches instead.

It amps everything up in anticipation because it has no idea what’s going to happen. And when this spirals into irrational territory, you’ve got anxiety. And when you’ve got anxiety, Everything Gets Worse.

It’s silly really. Because few of us are actually doing anything remotely dangerous.

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