We all have our “comfort zone,” especially when it comes to food and our lifestyle. We have certain foods that we like to eat, meals that we prefer to prepare, activities or sports that we like to participate in. According to Dr. Abigail Brenner in Psychology Today, this comfort zone is a
Psychological/emotional/behavioral construct that defines the routine of our daily life. It describes the patterned world of our existence, keeps us relatively comfortable and calm, and helps us stay emotionally even, free from anxiety and worry to a great degree.
This is a healthy adaptation to help minimize stress and discomfort in our lives, but sometimes it’s better to step outside of and expand your comfort zone. Regularly challenging yourself is an important part of life, and can help you grow as a person. This isn’t easy, and for some people, it can be downright scary, but the potential benefits often outweigh the risks.
There are many benefits to challenging yourself to try something new. Here are just a few:
Regardless of what comes of your experiences, trying something new helps you to grow as a person. The skills and lessons that you learn as a result of those experiences will help you throughout your life. If you don’t like something or it doesn’t work for you, recognize that it’s more about what you’ve learned, rather than whether you’ve been successful or not.
Every new experience that you have teaches you more about yourself. A dance class can show you that you have a good ear for music, or a trampoline class may make you realize that you have a fear of heights that you weren’t aware of.
You may find that you really enjoy rock climbing or hate hiking. You wouldn’t know that unless you’d stepped out of your comfort zone and tried them. And who knows where that may lead—a job change, a new passion or even a new group of friends. Sometimes small decisions can lead to big changes in your life.
Imagine how you’ll feel when you first summit a local mountain or discover that you make a mean vegan cake. There’s no doubt that knowing that you tried something new and conquered it will boost your self-confidence. It may even encourage you to make another leap!
Branching out and trying something new ultimately helps you to learn how to deal with stress, discomfort and anxiety in a very positive manner. Let’s face it: Life is full of stressful and challenging situations. Learning how to deal with challenges will better prepare you when they do arise.
Let’s not forget the memorable experiences that you’ll walk away with after you’ve met the challenge. Document the experience by taking pictures, writing in a journal or even creating a scrapbook. Whether the outcome is positive or negative, looking back on the experience is one of the best parts of challenging yourself!
While it may seem intimidating, stepping outside of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be. There are many things you can do to make it a little easier.
Looking for specific suggestions? Here are 15 ways that you can step out of your comfort zone, specific to your health and lifestyle. Feel free to try one, or all of them, or even create your own.
No matter how big or small the action may be, stepping outside of your comfort zone will boost your confidence and give you the courage to achieve things you never thought were possible.