Life is full of them. Whether it be at work, family, friends or personal. Most days bring something new.

Human beings naturally love a challenge. Competing and comparing ourselves with others to motivate us so we don’t feel like a failure. When we think of challenges we tend to think of extreme sports or exercising such as marathons. We immediately envision something physical, forgetting that a lot of life’s tests are mental. A challenge is described as participating in a difficult situation or decision. Anything that involves battling your mind over matter and pushing yourself, whether it be physical or mental.

Challenges are different for everyone which is so important to remember. Some people enjoy physical challenges such as running marathons or 30 day workouts, others would rather solve a Sudoku puzzle in a certain time or reach a certain level on a video game. Although these are valid trials, everyday consists of unnoticed challenges which we achieve.

The first; getting out of bed and facing the day. Recently, this has been a major struggle for me. I envy individuals who can just wake up and get on with their day, washing their hair, shaving their legs etc when they need to. Not putting it off until “tomorrow” which you know in the back of your mind you won’t because “there’s no point” and you have no energy or motivation. These acts of hygiene and self- maintenance are examples of other everyday challenges which we may have to overcome. You may read this, laugh and think they’re not challenges, but for some people they are.

Challenges are different for everyone.

At the moment, food is my new challenge. I have faced some fears, cried more than I should have, but if it was easy it wouldn’t be a challenge. A part of this challenge is being honest with myself and others. My ED is still winning. The reason? I feel like I should be more. I can be better. Accepting myself for me is a struggle. I focus on my “failures” rather than on what I do well. I still need to stop exercising, weighing and counting calories but I’m getting there. I’ve added milk to porridge and cereal, tried some new salads containing cheese and condiments, and eating proper meals such as curry with rice rather than one or the other or just porridge. Pasta is still a major fear. When challenging a fear, sometimes it takes more than one go to overcome it. Through repetition it will become easier. Or so I am hoping.

Facing your fears and pushing yourself is one of the best things you can do. Not only will you build knowledge, but you may end up finding a new passion or learn something about yourself or the world you live in. There’s so much to explore. However, the most important gain you will receive from challenging yourself is self-esteem. You will realise that you can do what you thought you couldn’t.

For me, I learned that I can cook and I love finding and experimenting with new foods. By getting out of bed I know I can shower. The best way to face a challenge is to break it down into small steps. By trying to face it head on, it can become too overwhelming and you end up talking yourself out of it. When training for a marathon you don’t run the full 26 miles on the first try, you break it down. If you’re struggling to get up in the morning, break down the day. In the first hour I know I need to get up, shower, have breakfast and brush my teeth. Once that is accomplished move on to the second hour and so forth. When challenging foods, have a fear food with something that feels safe. Then, when that food isn’t so scary anymore, add it to something else that scares you. To challenge exercise I’ve reduced from 60 minutes every day to 30 minutes. Reducing activity and increasing food terrifies me, and recently I haven’t been able to face this challenge. I feel as though I am slipping again.

If you feel as though you too are a bit stuck, or just want to find something new, I challenge you to challenge yourself. Pinterest has some great 30 day challenges including writing, reading, music, films, photography, you name it. If there’s something you’re putting off, I challenge you to try it. Self-growth can only happen if we push ourselves. However, you can’t always do it alone. Use your support, challenge yourself and see what you discover.

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