TAKE THE TEST The Stress Test Do you See Stress as a Threat or a Challenge? 1. When you feel under pressure from too many directions, do you: with pounding heart and churning stomach, worry about the effects the stress is having on you plead your case on Facebook focus single-mindedly on just the next small goal and don’t think about all the bigger tasks and goals2. You are about to give an important presentation about which you feel nervous, do you Notice your dry mouth, sweaty hands and beating heart and think I feel anxious Think about how happy you will feel when it is over. Feel your dry mouth, sweaty hands and beating heart and think I feel excited. 3. It’s Monday 3 pm at work and you are feeling jaded and bored, do you: Browse some YouTube videos. Fill in an expense claim. Stretch, go for a fast five minute walk and drink a shot of coffee.4. Your boss just told you that you aren’t the star she thought you were when she recruited you. Do you: Feel miserable and anxious and start looking for a new job. Message your partner to meet for a drink after work. Go for a coffee make an honest list of your achievements, and think “she’s wrong – what can I learn from this?”5. Your life feels a bit stalled and you are wading through mud with not much to look forward to. Do you: Go for a good few drinks to drown your sorrows. Eat. Grit your teeth, square your shoulders and think “something’s around the corner”.6. A colleague makes a snide, demeaning remark about you, do you think: He’s right – I’m no use. I have to get out of this place. I am proud of myself for not rising to the bait. He’ll get his come-uppance.7. You feel jaded and don’t seem to be making much headway in life. Do you: Shrug your shoulders, shed a tear and resign yourself to your lot in life. Check what’s on television tonight. Set a small, achievable goal – any goal – for yourself and make a plan exactly when and how you are going to do it. 8. You’re a nervous wreck waiting for the interview or appraisal. Do you: Keep sipping from your water bottle and wishing for the meeting to be over. Surf the internet on your smartphone. Fake it: stand up straight and fake a smile even though you are a jelly inside.9. Your boss tells you that you are to move out of your present department where you are very happy into to a new part of the company. Do you think: That’s terrible, I’m good at my job and am happy here – what’s going to happen? What’s the commute like to the new place? Hmm, that’s a challenge – I’ve been in this place for a long time now and even though it might be uncomfortable, I do probably need a change.10. Someone close to you is diagnosed with a bad form of cancer. Do you think: It’s not fair – she’s such a good person. That’s terrible but there’s nothing to be done. There’s no such thing as fairness in nature – I’m going to help her rise to this huge challenge and deal with this.11. A colleague says something insulting to you in front of others. Do you: Quietly pack up your things, slam the door on the way out and go home to brood on it. Phone your partner and vent your anger. Respond with firm, controlled anger requesting an apology and threatening a formal complaint if not given.12. It is your boss who insults you in public and there is no one to complain to; if you are angry with him, there could be bad consequences, you realize. Do you: Just try to bottle up the anger and distract yourself from it. Phone your friend and vent your anger. Try to work out what made him do it – for example, maybe his own job is at risk – could your competence be showing him up? 13. You are confident and happy in your job when suddenly you are asked to learn a completely new set of skills. Do you: Feel panicky and plead not to have to change because you’re really good at your present job. Start looking for another job. Feel excited by the challenge of learning something new, even if difficult and unfamiliar.14. A long term friend you thought you were very close to, suddenly and without explanation drops you. Do you think: What’s wrong with me? These things happen. What’s wrong with her?15. You are made redundant. Do you: Feel useless, abandoned and hopeless. Resign yourself to watching daytime TV. Use the anxiety as a spur to rethinking who you are and what you want to do.16. You are in the middle of severe family crisis, turmoil and stress: Do you: Seek medication from your Doctor to calm your nerves. Think about how you can escape. When things get too frantic, step back and watch events with a somewhat detached, observer perspective. 17. You suffer a major failure. Do you: Withdraw from the fray to avoid any more humiliation. Focus on your hobbies. Rethink your goal, check if it’s really for you and if so, work out what you can learn from the failure. 18. When you hear the dictum, “What doesn’t kill you, strengthens you,” you think: Nonsense – bad things diminish me. I was never one for generalizations. It’s true within limits – people can grow because of the challenges that bad experiences throw up.