Have you ever thought, “Maybe I should be taking on more… maybe I should be doing more things that scare me?”
American Journalist, Chicago Tribune Columnist, and Pulitzer Prize winner, Mary Schmich, has a quote that I actually live by. She says, “Do one thing every day that scares you."
I absolutely love this quote. It means you're growing since we're often fearful of things that we haven't done or things that stretch us. Be open to new things and change by welcoming one thing every day that scares you. You’ll grow your ability to adapt. You’ll grow or increase your risk tolerance and grow yourself.
Is that always the case?
I want to let you know that I believe that now might not be the time to be doing this. It might be better to pull back on implementing this way of life, at least for me, and maybe it's also true for you.
The world is in a bit of chaos. I’m sure you know what I mean:
We’re changing just generally how we go through life. So much of our way of life is being dictated by the pandemic and by the government.
Psychologists say we're in a mild fight or flight response to life right now, which is causing our adrenal glands to go into overdrive. Our cortisol shoots up. Our bodies feel the stress ALL. THE. TIME.
Unlike other stressors in life that come and go, we get this mild stress through life every day.
This whole idea of doing something each day that scares you can also have the same effect, though it would be a lower dose of stress, depending on the activity, because obviously, skydiving probably doesn't count.
But if you're already feeling off right now, finding that you can't focus, struggling to get things done, and you're overwhelmed easily, listen up. Now is not the time to challenge yourself with what scares you.
It's not even the time to push yourself beyond your limits. It's just not worth the damage it can do to your emotional health, physical body, and even your confidence.
You see a stressed body gets sicker easier because your immune system is down. But you know that. When you're stressed, you have a harder time being creative, visionary, and dealing with obstacles which are three qualities that are helpful when doing something that scares you or even just having a successful life.
Now, how do I know?
Well, I tend to push myself beyond the limits in many situations. This time I figured it out.
Back in July of 2020, I went to Ontario for a scheduled visit. I was already feeling off with the whole COVID-19 situation, and I had to make changes in my business. I was dealing with the kids being home since March and any parent or caregiver knows how hard that is to have them be off AND still run your business.
Then my father went into palliative care. So then added on to everything else, I'm dealing with my father's death approaching. I was unsure of a lot of things:
I basically canceled everything that brought me mental stress. But I went into overdrive with things that stressed my body physically:
It felt good to get my mind off of what was happening. It felt good to still achieve.
And then nine days later, my father passed away. With pushing myself physically, I got a weird rash on my arms and legs. I thought it was poison ivy or poison oak because mom had poison ivy earlier in the spring.
But was it stress?
You see, the places where I was scratched from the berry bushes started up first. But once I was days away from the garden and had cream even for the rash, it continued to spread.
Then I picked up a cold and I had to get tested for coronavirus. Even though it was negative, I wasn’t able to kick the cold symptoms. They just kept lingering.
Now, as a past varsity rugby player and a competitive soccer player, I know the importance of resting a stressed muscle, a rolled ankle, and being kind to my body after a tough game.
But why don't we do this with our emotional health? Because maybe we don't see it? Because it doesn't swell up and hurt the same way? But I know that I would never go and play a game with a broken leg, would you?
You make your own call
If you have life fairly balanced and you want to stretch yourself, then take Mary's quote and do one thing every day that scares you. Or maybe you decide to do it just once a month or once a week.
Again, it's your call.
But if you're feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, and then you can't handle anymore, then don't. Because I won't be for now as I come up to the one year anniversary of my Father’s passing.
I won't be living according to this quote. I won't be taking on things that scare me every day. But trust me, I'll keep assessing when I can because I have so many things that I want to do in this big, beautiful world.
P.S. If you can relate to what I shared today and want to process your emotions more or come up with some really cool things to do that scare you, and have accountability for, reach out to me. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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