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7 Ways the Whole Life Challenge Can Reduce Stress and Build Resilience

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“I’m stressed.”

For most of us, stress was something that used to just come and go. We expected a certain amount of it as a part of life, and didn’t really worry too much when we had our fair share.

These days, it seems like just waking up each day, we’re bound to be stressed about something. Without a period of relief from it, it can accumulate a little more each day, leading to physical symptoms like:

  • Physical pain
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches or nausea
  • Muscle tension

Left unchecked, it can lead to issues like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus or concentration

As well as unwanted behavior, like:

  • Outbursts of anger
  • Social withdrawal
  • Binge eating
  • Excess drinking or use of drugs

If you’re experiencing any of these more often than is normal right now, it’s important to consider if stress is at the root. There’s good news: there are steps you can take each day to help slow down, focus on simple solutions, and make a difference in your stress level and  your health.

The Whole Life Challenge offers a community experience in a fun health and well-being Challenge to help you and the people you care about find peace of mind and create structure in your life. You’ll learn and practice taking daily actions in the most important habits for health and well-being: nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, and introspection (register for our next challenge here).

These are strategies you can use for refocusing, reframing, and releasing stress in ways that are not only useful to reestablishing equilibrium, but are great for building resilience against future stress.



First, it’s important to be able to acknowledge that you are stressed

Many of us don’t like to admit it. We think it’s a weakness. It’s not, I promise.

Stress is our system’s response to out-of-the-ordinary situations. Normally, it helps us focus and solve relevant issues. We suffer when we can’t find ways to resolve the issue, which is when stress builds to less tolerable levels.

Probably most importantly, kindness to yourself when experiencing stress is a major factor in dealing with and recovering from stress. It happens to everyone. There is no reason anyone needs to feel that there is anything wrong with them. It would be like feeling there was something wrong with sweating when you exercise. It is a part of the system. Using strategies to deal with or release stress can help to complete the cycle and return you to a calmer state of mind.

The Whole Life Challenge gives you the community support and tools to put into action small, everyday strategies that will help you not only manage and reduce stress, but create health, well-being, and resilience in the face of many of life’s challenges.

7 ways the WLC can help reduce stress and build resilience

  1. Reach out to friends (or a professional). Connecting with people can help you see how normal your situation is, identify solutions, and see if you’ve distorted anything, potentially making the situation worse than it is.

    Resilience factor
    : Building a reliable and strong social network has been shown to be an important factor in living a long and healthy life. Friendships are often forged and strengthened in tough times. Leaning on each other is one of the best ways to make sure you’ll always be there for each other. The Whole Life Challenge is a tool that brings people together around the common goal of becoming a healthier, happier community.
  2. Eat well. When we’re not feeling our best, we have a tendency to skip meals or eat poorly. Not only can this affect our mood by messing with our blood sugar, it can lead to bingeing later on, contributing to frustration, judgement, and more stress.

    Resilience factor:
    A healthy diet helps build a strong immune system, which will always support us in times of stress, and helps with weight loss and fitness, which builds confidence and well-being. With the Whole Life Challenge, you commit to small, manageable changes to your nutrition, ones you can do every day, with the flexibility to learn about yourself, stay accountable, and grow in the process.
  3. Keep a journal about what happens and how you see yourself responding to daily situations. A journal can help you notice patterns and triggers, making them easier for you to identify and interrupt.

    Resilience factor:
    Keeping a regular journal can also be an ongoing source of exploring  your mind, thoughts, and experiences in a way that allows you to better understand yourself and shape your life’s outcomes.
  4. Get some exercise, a little bit every day. Even 10 or 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise can release endorphins, your body’s own stress relief hormones, and help better regulate your mood and emotional clarity.

    Resilience factor:
    Making regular contributions to your strength, endurance, and overall fitness is an important part of ensuring you have the energy reserves needed to deal with any stress that comes your way. The Whole Life Challenge asks you to commit to at least 10 minutes of exercise a day—achievable in almost any situation, and a foundation on which to build a lifelong habit.
  5. Tune out of the situation and allow yourself to do something else. Doing something that engages both your body and your attention, like drawing, painting, sports, gaming, dance, or other hobbies, can help bring you to a different place and give your body and mind a chance to relax and let go. 

    Resilience factor: More than just “zoning out,” the ability to create what’s known as flow states is one of the keys to feeling energized and focused, in full enjoyment of life.

  6. Get a good night’s sleep, or at least make sure you’re well rested—even if you have to find time to nap during the day. Physical and mental exhaustion can contribute unnecessarily to an already stressful situation. One of the best ways is to make sure you get to bed at the same time every night. It’ll help your internal clock, but also help prevent you from staying up and indulging in all the things that happen late at night (which are often no good!). 

    Resilience factor: Good sleep habits support good eating habits, weight loss, clear thinking, and good energy levels. Having a little discipline around sleep will pay off in good times as well as hard ones. The WLC puts you in control of making changes in your sleep. Committing to better sleep, that you can achieve, the WLC supports you with additional advice and practices that will make getting a good night’s sleep a regular occurrence.

  7. Practice well-being. Taking care of your mental & emotional states with simple, concrete practices like breathing, meditation, progressive relaxation techniques, or tuning out of news and social media can help remove or displace the things that can trigger stress, giving you an important break from stressful inputs. 

    Resilience factor: Just like stress, peace of mind also accumulates over time. The more regularly you practice, the more calm and inner peace you build up, giving you a buffer between you and any stressors coming down the road in the future. The Whole Life Challenge don’t just consider health to be daily exercise and the things you eat. We know that real health and well-being is built from the inside out. We provide weekly practices that help bring calm, connection, personal growth, and connection with the people around you.

The Whole Life Challenge gives you the structure and support you need to be able to put these and other habits into practice every day in small, simple, and effective ways. Join now and build the habits you need to manage daily stress and uncertainty and build health, well-being, and resilience for the future.

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Michael Stanwyck
Michael Stanwyck is the co-founder of The Whole Life Challenge, an idea that developed during his seven years as a coach and gym manager at CrossFit Los Angeles.

He graduated from UCLA with a BA in philosophy as well as a degree from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, and feels food is one of the most important parts of a life - it can nourish, heal, and bring people together.

Michael believes health and well-being are as much a state of mind as they are a state of the body, and when it comes to fitness, food, and life in general, he thinks slow is much better than fast (most of the time). Stopping regularly to examine things is the surest way to put down roots and grow.

He knows he will never be done with his own work, and believes the best thing you can do for your well-being starts with loving and working from what you’ve got right now.

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