There’s a popular saying: “Life begins outside your comfort zone”. Although I definitely see the advantages of having a space to recharge and collect yourself, I do feel this saying is true. Doing new things or even facing your fears is exhilarating, if not mind-expanding! In this article I’m sharing my favorite tips to step out of your comfort zone, and how will benefit from it during your daily life.
What is the “comfort zone”, and why is it good to step out of it?
The comfort zone could simply be described as a state of being that keeps you at a low anxiety level. Activities that don’t make you uneasy or tense. Although the comfort zone might be your biggest companion when you’re feeling down or when you’re longing for a bit of relaxation and familiarity, it can turn into your worst enemy as soon as you start feeling like you’re in a rut.
On the contrary, stepping out of your comfort zone will raise your anxiety levels. You might feel tense, stressed – scared even, because whatever you’re doing feels unfamiliar and challenging.
You might ask what the benefit is of stepping out of your comfort zone. Everyone wants to be in a relaxed state of mind, especially considering our busy lives, right?
Scientific studies have proven that we actually perform better when a little bit of anxiety is involved. A good example are people who deliver better work and are more focused with an impending deadline. Unfortunately (or fortunately, how ever you may perceive the concept) all people are different, which means all sorts and amounts of anxiety in various situations we can benefit from are different as well.
Ideally, when looking for the benefits of our anxiety, we want to be just outside the comfort zone. This zone is marked “learning” in the diagram. Levels of tension and stress are low enough to still remain pleasurable, keeping us excited and focused for a challenge. When we reach too far out of our comfort zone, we can reach a state of panic, fed by anxiety levels too high to be beneficial to our general functioning.
To illustrate this article I’ll be describing the benefits of overcoming tiny fears that are holding you back. To expand your horizon, undertake activities you never thought you’d do and to become a more interesting, more well-rounded person!
1: Determine what’s inside your comfort zone
The “comfort zone” is a different place for everyone. While you might dread the idea of climbing a horse, your best friend could spend her weekends riding like an amazonian princess. And although you might feel at ease knitting on the couch, your partner might look at you in awe while you do it.
Pin-point what makes you comfortable. Usually the comfort zone sums up a bunch of activities, the easiest of which being “watching television”, “reading” or other motions that are widely considering relaxing. Try to be more specific to your talent. You might be great at a particular sport, or you might enjoy to cook or to run.
Then try taking it up a notch by also listing things you don’t mind doing, which others would consider scary. Maybe you’re a great public speaker, aren’t afraid to travel alone or wouldn’t mind to take a drive in a race car, if the opportunity was offered to you. Thinking about these particular points will probably make it easier to progress through step 2!
2: Figure out what scares you, and why
Instead of summing up your greatest fears (spiders, burglars, swimming with sharks!) try to figure out what scares you on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. It could be wearing your bikini at the beach, driving for longer distances, or introducing yourself at a party. Not exactly matters of life and death, but situations that can be scary for numerous people.
What’s most interesting is, why these things scare you in particular. Would you rather wear a one-piece because you feel fat, because you feel naked otherwise, or because you feel others will find you unattractive? Are you afraid to drive hundreds of miles because you’re afraid to drive unknown roads, get in an accident, or that you won’t find a rest-stop along the way?
Only when you determine what the underlying emotions of your fears are, you will learn how you can tackle them.
3: Make the step!
After you figured out what you generally find scary, you can decide to make the leap. Now this doesn’t have to be as drastic as it sounds (like booking a cage-dive with a Great White). You simply have to find things to do which are outside your comfort zone, but remain in the “learning” circle of the diagram, rather than the “panic” portion.
If you feel embarrassed to wear your bikini at the beach (but would really like a tan tummy), you can start by wearing your two-piece around the house. It will feel strange, but you will get used to walking around (and being seen) in your bathing suit. If you’re scared of making long drives because you’re scared you’ll get lost, you could consider making the trip with a second driver. He or she can help you find your way, or even take the wheel when you’re starting to feel it gets a little too much.
Just make sure to take it one step at a time, and allow yourself the time to grow.
The benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone
- Your comfort zone will expand over time, because the more you get familiar with, the more you will get comfortable doing.
- You will grow as a person, as you will get to prove to yourself you can do a lot more than you thought you could.
- You will become more educated, as you’ll be learning new skills.
- You will grow more confidence, making it easier to overcome obstacles in life (as you can remind yourself of the things you have changed and overcome).
Do you have trouble stepping out of your comfort zone?