To talk of comfort zone, it is necessary to talk about anxiety levels. Our comfort zone is a psychological state that allows us to remain at a low level of anxiety steadily It is based on a type of behavior in which the person operates within a position of little or no anxiety. It is where our uncertainty and vulnerability are minimized, where we believe we have everything (or almost everything) under control.
Daily activities like cooking, watching TV, reading, etc. to which we are accustomed, will not make us feel anxious or restless, so they are part of our comfort zone.
- 1 The benefits of moderate anxiety
- 2 How to get out of your comfort zone in 6 steps
- 3 What you get when you leave the comfort zone and try new things
- 4 Why it is important to return to the comfort zone from time to time
The benefits of moderate anxiety
Although anxiety is not something we like to go looking for, a little can be beneficial. A pinch of anxiety pushes us every day to do our job and improve our performance.
A study with mice in 1908 showed that when a task was easy to carry out, the performance shown by the mice increased as their anxiety levels increased. On the other hand, when a task was difficult, the increase in anxiety only helped if a certain threshold was not exceeded, apparently the combination of a difficult task and high anxiety has a negative effect on stress and subsequent performance.
The comfort zone is often illustrated how we can see in the following image, where the comfort zone extends to a learning zone, but eventually leads to a panic zone, where anxiety is too high.
So, when the task was easy, the mice were in their comfort zone and completed it without feeling any anxiety. As the anxiety levels of the mice increased, they entered their learning zone and at the same time improved performance. But when the task was difficult, a lower level of anxiety was needed to reach their learning zone, and soon they fell into their panic zone, where performance was drastically reduced.
How to get out of your comfort zone in 6 steps
Although it may not always seem so, outside our comfort zone can be a good place to be, as long as we do not tilt the balance too far. It is important to remember that there is a difference between the type of controlled anxiety we are talking about and real anxiety with which many people struggle with every day. On the other hand, each person's comfort zone is different, and what it means for someone to expand their horizons, for another it can mean total panic. Remember, optimal anxiety can lead us to improve at many levels, but the excess will lead to disaster.
Here are some ways to get out (and to expand) our comfort zone without going too far:
1. Do everyday things differently
This is something we can all start doing simply. For example, make a different route to work, try a new restaurant or a new meal, change the way you dress or comb, talk to a stranger ... Recalibrate your reality, no matter if the change is big or small, the important thing is to make a change in the way of doing things day by day. Find the new perspective you have after the change, even if it is negative. Do not be discouraged if things do not go as planned.
2. Slow your pace
Sometimes a slowdown is all we need to make us feel uncomfortable, especially considering that speed and mental agility are much appreciated in the work and personal life of today. Reduce speed, observe what is happening, take some time to interpret what we see, and then intervene. Sometimes, the mere fact of defending our right to make a deeper decision on an issue can push us out of your comfort zone. Think, don't just react.
3. Trust yourself and make quick decisions
It seems that we are in contradiction with the previous point, but it is for a good reason. Just as there are people who make quick decisions, others feel more comfortable weighing all possible options several times, again and again. For this kind of people it is good to get carried away more often by impulses. If they do, they can finally get their personal projects underway and learn to trust their intuition more.
4. Accept the uncertainty
Not knowing what will happen and the insecurity that this feeling creates us, drives us towards a desperate attempt to control the future and anticipate as it is towards endless possibilities. Not knowing is synonymous with helplessness, and therefore, fear of the unknown. This is what drives us to stay whenever we can in our beloved comfort zone. But we must accept once and for all that uncertainty is part of life, just like change, so don't try to control everything, let yourself go and release the reins from time to time.
5. Seek support from others
Often leaving our comfort zone on your own can be complicated, but if there is someone close to whom you trust (a family member, a friend ...) you can explain what you are trying to do. Surely it can help you and it will give you a cable when you need it. Do not despise the help of othersRemember that people are made to interact with each other and to support us!
6. Do it in small steps
It takes a lot of courage to get out of our comfort zone. And even if you don't believe it, you get the same benefits if we go fast as if we don't do it slowly, so don't be afraid to start slowly, the important thing is to take the first step and not back down. Yes, for example, you are socially anxious, do not assume that you have to gather enough courage to ask someone for an appointment at the first exchange, just say hello and start a small conversation. Identify your fears, and then face them step by step.
There are many things you can do to test your personal limits. Could you learn a new language for example. Learning a language has multiple benefits, especially if you have limited yourself to observing the world from afar, because this may be the way to start traveling to more distant and unknown places. Visit new and different places It is one of the best ways to expand our perspective of reality, and it does not have to be expensive, there are many ways and places to travel. The experiences we have can be amazing or unfortunate, but that doesn't matter. The point is that we will be doing it, and that we are pushing ourselves beyond the mental blocks that tell you to do nothing.
Trying new things is difficult. If it weren't, leaving your comfort zone would be easy and we would do it all the time. It is so important to understand how habits are formed and how we can break them, how to learn to force ourselves to go outside our comfort zone by doing specific things.
What you get when you leave the comfort zone and try new things
Optimal anxiety is that place where mental productivity and performance reach their highest peak. Even so, "higher performance" and "higher productivity" simply sound like "doing more things." But what do you really get when we are willing to leave the comfort zone?
We will be more productive
Staying in the comfort zone kills productivity, since without the feeling of discomfort of having deadlines and expectations, we tend to make the minimum necessary to get ahead. We lose the vision and ambition to do more and learn new things. On the other hand, falling into the trap that "we are too busy" for change is another way to stay in our comfort zones and avoid doing new things. Pushing our personal limits can help us grow, do more things and find the smartest way to work.
It will be easier for us to face new and unexpected changes
In a New York Times article, Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, explains that one of the worst things we can do is believe that there is no fear and uncertainty. By taking risks in a controlled manner and doing things we would not normally do, we will realize that uncertainty can also be manageable. Learning to live outside our comfort zone voluntarily prepares us to face the changes that life brings us with more courage.
It will be easier to exceed our limits in the future
Once we start to get out of our comfort zone, it will get easier over time. As we spend more time outside our comfort zone, we will get used to that state of optimal anxiety. "Productive discomfort," as they call it, becomes more normal, and we will be willing to go further than before each time.
It will be easier to exchange ideas and take advantage of our creativity
The search for new experiences, learning skills unknown to us and opening the door to new ideas inspire and educate us in a surprising way. Trying new things can make us reflect on our old ideas and see where they "collide" with this new knowledge, inspire us to learn more and challenge prejudices. Even in the short term, an uncomfortable positive experience can help us develop a brainstorm, see old problems from a new perspective, and face challenges with new energy.
Why it is important to return to the comfort zone from time to time
But You can't live outside your comfort zone all the time. It is necessary to return from time to time to process our experiences. The last thing we want is for the new and interesting to quickly become a common and boring place.
This phenomenon, called hedonistic adaptation, is the natural tendency to be impressed by new things only so that they become ordinary after a short period of time (this phenomenon also occurs with the purchases; we desperately want something and when we have it, it starts losing its value). That's why although today we have access to the largest repository of human knowledge ever created (Internet) and it is within our reach (on our smartphones), we get bored more than ever because we achieve everything extremely quickly, almost effortlessly. This prevents us from sufficiently appreciating subtle and everyday things.
Take it easy, take the time to reflect on your experiences, so that you can take advantage of the benefits acquired and apply them in your day to day. Then, do something newer and interesting again. Try something new every week or month, not every day.
Similarly, do not limit yourself to great experiences. Maybe the meditation pushes you out of your comfort zone as much as bungee jumping. The goal is not to become a adrenaline junkieWhat is sought is to learn to recognize what you are capable of doing. That is another reason why it is important to sometimes return to a state of comfort and relaxation. But do not forget to go in search of those moments of inspiration, creation and production, which are also a bit uncomfortable, from time to time.