26 Mar 2021

Optimal anxiety - turning challenges into opportunities

Some of life’s best experiences happen when we take on stretch challenges beyond our comfort zone. 

We become more resilient and more productive when we succeed at challenges that extend our comfort boundaries. This could include learning a language, initiating a new work project or taking on a physical challenge. 

Sometimes fear of failure gets in the way. It is too easy to find excuses, or to allow the opinions of others to hold you back. The downside is missing out on opportunities that may not happen again. 

Optimal anxiety allows for moderate levels of discomfort to achieve more, without overdoing things. 

When we take on stretch challenges there is a real sense of satisfaction in achieving our goals.

We recently completed the Nydia Track walk, a challenging two-day trek in the Marlborough Sounds. 

The weather was superb with blue skies and magnificent views of Pelorus Sound walking through regenerating and podocarp forest with beech trees, lush native ferns and pine plantations. 

However, things didn’t exactly go to plan. 

The 29 km track is riddled with rocks and tree roots which slowed our progress. On the first day we were relieved to reach Nydia Bay after more than five hours walking over the saddle from Kaiumu Bay.   

We stayed overnight in a seaside cabin with narrow steep stairs and no handrail.  In the dark of early morning, I fell more than a metre off the stairs resulting in severe bruising and back strain.

The next morning our group of five was on a tight timeframe to reach the shuttle transfer point at Duncan Bay, as another group of walkers had a plane to catch. 

Under time pressure Steve tripped on a tree root and face planted, cutting his forehead with black eyes and tiny nose fractures.  Fortunately, the shuttle van driver waited for us and two doctors from the other party treated Steve when we arrived at the pickup point, five hours after leaving Nydia Bay. 

Some naysayers might be quick to judge our situation. “Why on earth did you do this at your age?” 

Authentic people do not let their lives be dictated by what others think. Instead, we choose to continue setting healthy challenges. 

The rewards of being in such spectacular surroundings and completing the challenging Nydia Track walk far outweigh the temporary inconvenience of these minor setbacks. After all …

The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone.” Karen Salmansohn  

Photo: Steve Vaughan 


Mary Somervell

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