THE BLOG
04/02/2016 10:59 GMT | Updated 02/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: Five Pulse Racing Challenges You Can Set Yourself

We've all heard of that saying 'feel the fear and do it anyway'. It's emblazoned on every outdoor clothing company t-shirt from here to the surfing beaches of Southern California.

But could adrenaline rushes actually be good for us? Some scientists seem to think so.

According to studies done within the special forces, putting soldiers in controlled high adrenaline situations prior to real life ones actually improved their ability to focus during a real life situation, and bounce back afterwards. It is thought that this could be applied to how people cope with stress in everyday life. The theory is that controlled exposure to adrenaline builds resilience to stressful situations.

Now just to be clear we are talking about the good kind of adrenaline. The nervous, jittery. 50% excited 50% scared kind of adrenaline. If the thought of doing any of these things is bringing on panic attacks or anxiety, then they are unlikely to lead to more positive state of wellbeing, and I would advise against them, but setting yourself the right challenge can sometimes be just the thing we need.

We know that learning something new gives our confidence a boost. No more so than when it's outside of our comfort zone. Achieving something that borders on the impossible, not only makes us feel good about ourselves, but makes us think 'well now I've done that, what else can't I achieve?' Without knowing it, setting ourselves scary challenges can actually bring out a whole new side of us.

So how about one of these pulse racing activities to get you started.

1. Skydiving 

What could be more of an adrenaline rush than throwing yourself out of an airplane? It is on so many of our bucket lists, but how many of us actually end up doing it? No matter how nervous you are in the lead up, the sense of achievement that you feel when you're feet are back on the ground can't be equaled. (and you've got those attractive windblown cheeks resembling a dog-out-a-car-window photos to prove it).

Choose to do it for charity, and not only will you be ticking off a once in a lifetime challenge, but you'll be helping other people too. Double self esteem boost!

If you're really nervous you can even practice before making the leap. AirKicks centres are in Manchester, Milton Keynes and Basingstoke and offer several minute freefall sessions in a simulated wind tunnel.

2. Flying lessons 

So maybe throwing yourself out of a plane is a step too far, but you want to be behind the wheel of one instead? What could be more confidence boosting (and impressive) than soaring thousands of feet high, and knowing that you are in control? I like to think it's the closest you can get to being a bird.

The most amazing thing about learning to fly is that you are not hugely restricted by age, fitness or physical capability.  If you're over 14, there is a huge range of lessons available across the UK.  FlyingLessons.co.uk  can help find a school for the air-bound apparatus of your choice, from learning to fly a vintage biplane to the latest helicopters or even building confidence in a flight simulator. 

3. Rock climbing 

"When you're on a climb, you're in the moment, you're entirely focused on the task at hand, and your mind is clear of all other thoughts, "It's a wonderful escape." Jake McManus a regular climber who has suffered from depression all his life. Climbing helped him so much that at the age of 41 he set up a charity Climbout, to help people 'climb-out' of their situations and onto better lives.

For many others too, climbing can be the perfect activity to get our minds to focus. It can be physically demanding and involve intense mental concentration, this can sometimes act as the ideal antidote to temporarily forget other anxieties going on away from the climbing wall.

Apart from that, it's highly accessible, you can do it indoors, any time of year, with friends and its relatively cheap! It's perfect for goal setting- raising the height and difficulty level makes you feel like you're achieving something every time you go.

4. Tight rope walking

Philip Petit's tight rope walk across the former world trade centre towers became one of the most memorable stunts of the past 50 years. Whilst I am absolutely not advocating the need to try anything near this dangerous, tight rope walking can be very beneficial for your physical and mental health.

Physical agility, strength, and a high degree of mental concentration, it can be a very difficult skill to master but oh- so- worthwhile when you can show your man-on-wire prowess to your friends and family. You can go on courses which build you up from a complete beginner until you are able to walk along the entire rope...at a height...un-aided. And now it's time to learn some tricks! (Take a deep breath) National Circus can give you more information.

5. Skiing or snowboarding

The level of physical activity and mental concentration involved in both skiing and snowboarding have great potential benefits for your physical and mental health. It is a good gradual confidence building exercise. You can see yourself improve from a bambi-legged flopper in the first lesson, to being able to stop yourself, and make turns in a matter of just a few weeks.

With the innovation of indoor real snow ski slopes you no longer have to spend a small fortune on a ski trip to the alps every year, and instead can visit Snozone at the (clearly equally picturesque) Milton Keynes or Castleford.