Have you ever noticed that some people order the same coffee at Starbucks every day? Do you find it difficult to try out exotic pizza toppings, different from the ones you always order? That’s because most of us stick to behaviors, experiences, and environments we know and like, while attempting to avoid unpredictability and uncertainty.
This is only natural: as human beings, we feel much more comfortable navigating familiar waters instead of venturing into situations we have never experienced before. Staying inside our “comfort zone” can make us feel safe and in control, but is it truly the best thing for us?
Getting out of your safe daily routine is not only positive but, most of the time, essential if you wish to grow and advance your life. In fact, trying out new experiences can do a lot more than expand your social circle or your professional horizons: stepping out of your comfort zone is a journey of self-discovery, love, confidence, and resilience that will lead you to a happier, healthier new you. Explore below the best 3 tips for stepping outside of your comfort zone and why it’s healthy to do so.
What’s Your Comfort Zone and Why Is it a Good Thing?
You have probably heard the term “comfort zone” a million times, but what does it really mean? Well, you can think about your comfort zone as your safe space, any routine in your life that’s predictable, regular and comfortable, that you do not intend to change. The term started to become popular back in the 1990s after the publication of Judith Bardwick’s book, Danger in the Comfort Zone (1).
Your comfort zone is where we go to relax whenever we feel overwhelmed about the ever-changing world around us. Is there anything wrong with having a comfort zone? Experts say no. Having a safe place is not only nice but also necessary. Otherwise, we would be stressed and anxious all the time.
Having and (staying in) your comfort zone allows you to:
- Draw on previous experiences. For instance, if you always cook in the same way, or prepare the same dish on Saturdays, you can draw on previous experiences and prepare the food deliciously and efficiently, as you know exactly how to do it without asking for help.
- Have more confidence and serenity. Staying inside your comfort zone inspires serenity and confidence while limiting anxiety for new experiences. This happens because achieving success in a certain task gives you self-assurance and confidence that you will do the same in the future.
- Reduced anxiety and negative feelings. When you have a very defined daily routine and familiar activities to carry out, you know how to carry them out effectively and understand the risks associated with them. For example, if you are used to deep-frying potatoes, you know you should not throw too many of them into the pot at once or you could get burnt.
- Save mental and physical energy. There's a real link between stepping out of your comfort zone and being anxious, as identified by Yerkes and Dodson in 1908 (2). Approaching something that is completely new can be overwhelming and unpredictable, as you don’t have any guarantee of success. That is why activities within your daily routine are less exhausting than new ones. In addition to knowing how to do them, you will not feel anxious or apprehensive about the task at hand.
Now, not everything about having a defined and comfortable daily routine is peaches and cream. Not stepping out of your comfort zone also has some negative aspects, such as:
- No growth opportunities. If you are too comfortable in your cocoon, chances are you are avoiding activities that challenge you or make you feel anxious. While this is a good thing in general, the truth is that you cannot make progress if you are always in the same place. Expose yourself to new people and situations and you’ll open yourself up to new knowledge and unforgettable experiences that will help you grow.
- No new skills: Learning a new skill is uncomfortable. You’ll make mistakes and feel in the spotlight, no matter if you are learning a new language and think you sound ridiculous, or if you are trying to bake a cake and it ends up tasting horrible. However awful this may sound, these small moments of anxiety will help you learn new, invaluable skills that will change your life for the better!
- No pain, no gain. We are sure you heard it before and it may be a cliché, but if you never risk anything, you won’t gain anything either. Be it learning a new skill, getting a salary raise, or moving abroad - these changes require some kind of risk and ego discomfort. If you are not willing to take chances, you will not be rewarded.
3 Tips for Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone
While there is nothing wrong with being in a comfortable place (especially if you feel happy), you need to be aware of the consequences of not moving forward. We get it: many people tend to assume the worst and end up feeling anxious and fearful of something that has not happened yet. But what if the worst never actually happens? What if not moving out of your safe space means you are missing out on unique, incredible experiences that go beyond your daily routines and behaviours?
If you are ready to take the leap, come and explore with us. Adventure is out there - here are 3 tips to help you step out of your comfort zone and become your best self!
#1 - Explore Beyond Your Bubble
No matter how big your bubble may be, it can always be expanded. Be open to new experiences, opportunities, and challenges that step out of your comfort zone. Get out of your safe cocoon by taking action today. Think about what areas of your life would benefit from a change (your job, your family life, your health). Start thinking about what kind of actions you can take to improve those areas… and get started now! Take healthy risks and overcome your fears.
Exploring beyond your bubble does not mean suddenly abandoning your job and going to China or trying truly uncomfortable things. It may be something small, such as changing your night routine and going cycling instead of staying home. It could be giving up something you think you cannot abandon such as too much coffee, alcohol, or TV at night. You could change a bad habit such as staying up too late or unhealthy snacking.
Mind you, stepping out of your comfort zone requires you to identify the areas that do not need any improvement too. If you have already found the perfect, healthy morning routine and feel happy about it, then why change it? Maybe it will be better to invest your time and effort in changing how you manage your personal finances or start saving if you always find yourself without any money by the end of the month.
Changing your routine for the better implies staying open to new opportunities and investing your time wisely. With patience and confidence, soon you’ll expand your comfort zone and grow as a result!
#2 - Unplug From Technology
Technology has become a crucial part of our daily lives over the last few years. One example of this is our smartphone. We use it for everything from listening to music, to watching Netflix, or even monitoring our heart rate while running. Stepping away from technology today is more difficult than ever. But, did you know that too much screen time can affect not only your body but also your mental health?
You have probably heard of blue light but did you know that it can lead to sleep deprivation, affect your eating habits, and even make you feel depressed because it alters our circadian rhythm (that is, our biological clock)? During the day, blue wavelengths are good because they boost your attention and mood. But at night, this type of light (used in almost all screens) can be disruptive and make it difficult to sleep.
So, while technology certainly offers incredible value to our lives, taking a break from your screen will help you sleep and live better. Step away from your comfort zone by disconnecting from technology, at least from time to time! Consider scheduling this time away from your devices if needed.
You may not be able to check your social media notifications at once, or answer Whatsapp messages quickly, but in addition to avoiding sleep deprivation, you will be fighting:
- Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle
- Eye problems such as blurred vision
- Headaches and backaches
Abandoning technology (at least briefly!) and changing your night routine will give you more time to explore new activities. Instead of spending hours watching television before you sleep, you can take a night yoga class, meditate, or try out new, delicious recipes. For example, if you have trouble sleeping, why not attempt to prepare healthy dishes with broccoli sprouts? This vegetable has a high concentration of zinc, which helps you sleep deeply at night and maintain your energy levels during day time (3).
All in all, unplugging from technology for a bit each night will take away the harmful effects blue light has on your health. You will have the chance to get out of your safe cocoon and open your mind to new adventures.
#3 - A Healthy Happy New You
Taking risks is scary and challenging, but this effort of pushing beyond your comfort zone is much easier and enjoyable if you have a clear goal in mind. And what goal can be better than having a healthier, happier version of yourself?
You don’t need to become an Olympic athlete or replace chocolate with lettuce to step out of your comfort zone and become your best self. Instead, you can take small steps to improve your daily routine with steps and goals. One example can be improving your diet. This is as challenging as it is rewarding, especially if you set attainable milestones in the short term.
Instead of abandoning fats altogether, you can begin by replacing the bacon in your breakfast for seasonal fruit, for example. Next, add more and more milestones where you feel confident that you can succeed. If you take these small risks and embrace discomfort, soon these tasks will seem normal. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you will begin to see how strong, resilient, and confident you can be. This is where growth blossoms.
There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable and at ease. The truth is, it is a lot easier to stay within the boundaries of the place you feel safe, than to venture into the unknown. However, if you stay in your comfort zone forever, you will be missing out. Professional opportunities, new friendships, and adventure are on the horizon and you will discover capabilities and strengths you did not know you had.
In addition to creating incredible and unforgettable experiences, pushing past your comfort zone is a great way to increase your confidence and self-love. By making even the smallest of changes from time to time, you can live a healthier, more well-rounded and confident life.
If you still need a little push, why not try our Complete Happy New You System? Its natural ingredients can help you feel more energised, balanced, and less stressed. Adding this simple daily supplement into your life could be the first step toward venturing outside of your comfort zone!