“Comfort zone” refers to habits or situations that a person often falls back to as an alternative to trying something new. People often stay in their comfort zone to avoid anxiety related to something unknown or difficult. An established group of friends can be an example of a comfort zone, especially if you find it intimidating to try to pursue friendly relationships outside of that group.
Another typical example of a comfort zone is your favorite fashion choices. For example, someone who is used to wearing understated clothes may feel uncomfortable or out of place if they try something more adventurous.
A comfort zone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everyone has a comfort zone in one way or another and it can be used as a valuable stress relief tool. However, if you rely too much on your comfort zones, they can become detrimental to your daily functioning or long-term goals. As such, it’s important to be aware of viable ways you can challenge and get out of your comfort zones.
Reasons to leave your comfort zone
To repeat ourselves, having a comfort zone is not inherently negative. That said, there are many benefits to getting away from it every once in a while. Here are a few reasons to get out of your comfort zone:
- avoid boredom: If you constantly stay in your comfort zone, it can be easy to feel underwhelmed by the lack of diversity and novelty.
- Maintain mental acuity: Persistent understimulation may begin to have a negative effect on your cognitive performance in many ways. In short, boredom is bad.
- Increase confidenceExcessive attachment to your comfort zone can make you feel like you can’t get out, and you feel out of your depth when you do.
- To overcome fears: In many cases, attachment to your comfort zones can be the result of underlying fears. By challenging your comfort zones, you can also challenge your fears.
- reduce anxiety: Gradual introduction to stressful situations (i.e., situations outside of your comfort zone) can help reduce anxiety related to the situation over time. Even small changes in your fashion choices can have a positive impact on your mental health over time.
- Finding New Communities: Leaving your comfort zone can provide unique opportunities to find and interact with new people, take up new hobbies, and build a stronger social circle.
- Testing new waters: Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be about trying something you’re sure you’ll enjoy. It can also be about trying something you’re not sure about to see if you’ll like it.
- Discover new interests: Getting out of your comfort zone allows you to try new activities.
- Developing new skills: By getting out of your comfort zone, you can find new opportunities to discover and develop useful new skills and gain knowledge about new topics.
- Increase empathy: By interacting with new communities or learning about other hobbies and lifestyles, you can develop empathy for others you previously had little connection with.
How do you get out of your comfort zone
The best way to challenge or leave your comfort zone depends on you, as your personality and the specifics of your comfort zone will have a big impact on which methods work best for you. However, the following options are a great place to start for many people.
- Start small: If you’re too ambitious right out of the gate, you may find the change more stressful than it needs to be. For example, your ultimate goal may be to lose 30 pounds, but it may be a good idea to start with some simple home workouts and build up gradually.
- Disrupt your routine: Often a good place to start is by gradually challenging your habits. For example, you can switch slightly between different parts of your schedule, or make small, positive additions to daily activities, such as personal grooming. This can help you adapt to the idea of change.
- Set achievable goals: You have a better chance of success if you set achievable, concrete goals to work towards. For example, you can set a goal to attend at least one event that you are interested in once a year.
- Get the support of friends: Friends can not only be a great source of moral support, but can also help by trying some changes with you. For example, if you’re nervous about attending an event, ask your friends to join them.
- Find a community: A community that revolves around or supports the type of change you want to make can provide a lot of helpful advice and support.
- Lawyer for yourself: You cannot sustain yourself on moral support from outside alone. Positive self-talk and a willingness to stand up for yourself and support your own needs is also important.
- Think about why you want to make this change: Understanding why you want to make this change may help you understand how to make this change.
- See it as a learning moment: If you expect to grab something the first time you try it, you can stress the process unnecessarily. You are much more likely to succeed if you see the change as an opportunity to learn and grow on the go. It’s also more fun.
- Addressing Underlying Stressors: Often an unhealthy confidence in your comfort zones has to do with underlying stress. Getting to the root of the problem increases the likelihood that you will succeed in your efforts to get out of your comfort zone. It’s also important to identify other underlying issues, such as addictions, that can further contribute to a complacent or sedentary lifestyle.
- Consider seeking additional support: In some cases, additional support, such as a counselor, can help you understand why you depend on your comfort zone and how to challenge it in viable ways.
It’s also important to keep in mind that getting out of your comfort zone is usually not a quick and easy process. It may take a few tries along with some mental strength to get through the discomfort.