Changing Your Mindset: The Challenge Response

Feb 10, 2021

 by Stephen Conca

There are many different ways the body responds to stress. The most common response is fight-or-flight. This response has multiple negative effects on someone’s mental and physical health. What if there was a way to shift your mindset and change your body’s response to stress. Would you believe me that there is and it is much easier to shift over to this mindset than you would imagine?

When your body uses the fight-or-flight response, your heart starts pounding faster and faster. You begin to feel overwhelmed and you feel that you are unable to complete the task that is causing your stress. In simple terms, your body feels threatened and your mind is in overdrive. This response can lead to discouragement and it is the driving force that pushes you to give up.

The challenge-response has very similar physiological responses; the main difference is your mindset. Your heart begins to beat faster and your thoughts start to become overwhelming. Focusing on your heartbeat. Once you have focused on each beat, imagine your heart is pumping solely to provide you with the energy that will push you to complete the activity, especially when exercising. When you shift your mindset to a challenge-response, chemicals are released to help your brain learn to be more responsive and resourceful when dealing with stressful situations. Over an extended period of time of focusing on this mindset, your brain will have adapted to use the challenge-response over the fight-or-flight response in the most common situations you deal with daily.

Now, this is much easier said than done, but with some guidance, the challenge-response will be your primary response to stressful situations. The most simple way to trigger this change is to talk yourself through the situation. Come up with a word or phrase that is PERSONAL and POWERFUL to you. Once you start to feel your heart pumping and the thoughts begin to rush through your mind, repeat this phrase over and over in your head. It can be as simple as saying "You got this." It can be helpful to use your own name to make the self-talk more direct. Using positive self-talk has shown to immediately transform your response to stress. Another tip is to think about the people who support you. Many times, people are motivated by those who are in their life-supporting them day in and day out. Lastly, you can think of a time when you experienced a great deal of stress to the point where you felt it was impossible to complete, but instead of giving in, you overcame that adversity. By looking back at past experiences, you can motivate yourself to complete the current task you are presented with that is creating stress on your body.

Changing your mindset on stressful situations can help you cope with stressful situations more healthily. In the end, you will feel more hopeful for future adversities and be more susceptible to success in the future. These skills need practice, but once they are implemented into your daily routine, the challenge-response will take over. You will learn how to deal with your stress healthily and positively.