Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to gravitate towards the familiar, and more often than not, become stuck in the same routine. Preventing surprises and challenges by avoiding actions that may not have predictable outcomes helps us to feel calm and safe, reducing anxiety and mitigating physical manifestations of stress.
But, as you’ll learn today, getting out of your comfort zone has many benefits and can also improve the health of your bones. So we’ll look at why it’s useful to get comfortable with discomfort, ten ways to get out of your comfort zone, and the advantages of being adventurous.
Shaking Up Your Routine Can Improve Your Life
Psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson conducted a study on mice to observe and analyze their performance while remaining within their comfort zone. They found that a relative state of comfort led them to perform at a steady level. But total comfort wasn’t the optimal condition for achieving the best results. To maximize performance, the study subjects needed a slightly higher than the baseline level of stress, called “optimal anxiety.”1
We’ve certainly all experienced situations where stress or anxiety inhibited our ability to do a good job or achieve our goals. But I’ll bet you’ve also experienced a situation where you were so relaxed and at-ease that ended up in failure as well. It turns out that “optimal anxiety” is the right balance, and it lies just outside our comfort zone.
Here are some of the benefits you’ll reap from challenging yourself:
Controlled Change Prepares You For Forced Change
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. You might think that the unexpected is something you can’t prepare for, but handling stressful situations or challenges is something you can practice. Getting out of your comfort zone intentionally gives you the chance to practice overcoming challenges and dealing with change. In other words, by pushing your boundaries, whether it’s to tackle a problem or to try something new, you can exercise your ability to become more flexible and adaptable.
You’ll Become More Productive
A little pressure can go a long way to get things done. By getting out of your comfort zone, you can practice thriving in an environment that pushes you to do your best, by becoming more efficient at achieving your goals. And this applies to many aspects of your life, such as upping your productivity at work or sticking to your bone-building exercise routine.
Your Brain Will Change For The Better
Exposure to new challenges gives your brain a workout. Waking up the part of your mind that solves problems engages a powerful tool that can be applied to many parts your life. You’ll find that you’re reflecting differently on problems and seeing new possibilities all around you. This can inspire you to learn more, to challenge old assumptions and outdated information, and to radically reimagine your world. Plus, exercising the mind reduces fracture risk by avoiding the cognitive decline that has been linked to a loss of balance.2
You’ll Become More Adaptable And Efficient
The more you step outside of your comfort zone, the easier it becomes to move farther away from that place of ease. As you become accustomed to experiencing a state of “optimal anxiety” you’ll find that you can take bigger risks without feeling overwhelmed, and you can get more done before the pressure becomes too great. As your comfort zone grows, many tasks that were once a challenge will become second nature, creating space for even more improvement.
How To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Now you know some of the compelling reasons to practice discomfort and take on new challenges. But where do you start? Here are ten ways you can begin leaving your comfort zone and expanding your horizons.
1. Know Your Current Comfort Boundaries
Create a “to-do” list or of things you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done yet because of lack of courage, fear of failure, or disappointment. Next, make a list of the more comfortable alternatives to those challenges you haven’t faced. This will allow you to better understand your zones of safety, and you’ll know where the unexplored territory lies. Both of these spaces are critical in this process.
2. Get Specific About What You Want To Overcome
Think of activities or actions you may have considered doing in the past but never actually did them. It could be anything, such as going on a mountain biking excursion, a camping trip, or kayaking. Or it might be signing up for that intimidating dance class at the gym or community center. Try to control the anxiety you’ll experience when you imagine taking that leap and know that once you imagine it, it will become easier to do it. Acknowledge it and celebrate that you’re already taking the first step by defining the challenges you’ll be tackling.
3. Experiment With Discomfort
Now that you know the specific areas where you plan to delve into discomfort, when these opportunities arise, test how much you can handle before you feel like you should return to your comfort zone. Attend the office party that you’ve been dreading or on your next visit to the doctor, ask him or her all the questions that you’d like answered and were too shy to ask. Recognize the feelings of discomfort and observe yourself pushing through them. Assess what changes in your body and your thinking as you engage in new, bolder behaviors.
4. Take Small Steps
As the above examples illustrate, you don’t need to jump into the deep end. You can start with some small steps to get a feel for new experiences. Let’s say you’ve always wanted to run, but thought it was not appropriate for your fitness level. You can start an exercise program to strengthen your legs while speed-walking a few days a week until you’ll be able to run. Or you could join a running club in your area. So start slowly, because if you take on too much at once, it might be overwhelming, which could make you feel like giving up entirely.
5. Adjust Your Daily Routine
Every area of your life and every behavior you regularly engage in, provide an opportunity to practice leaving your comfort zone. Identify what everyday actions you could do differently, and try them out! Visit a new gym, go to a party you might normally skip, take a different route to work, try food you’ve never eaten. And remember, the goal isn’t to necessarliy love the results of these variations but rather to go about your daily activities in different ways.
6. Failure Can Prepare You For Success
If you take on a new challenge and don’t succeed, analyze that experience to obtain information that can help you get a little closer to success next time. Examine why you didn’t do what you set out to do, where you deviated from course, and what factors were at play. This will help you identify your weak points so you’ll be able to muster your resolve in those areas. Just think, if you’d sailed right through the first time, you wouldn’t know where you need support for bigger challenges to come!
7. Trust Your Intuition And Your Intelligence
Overthinking a decision about trying out a new experience can easily result in backing out. If you have the impulse to try something new, go for it. If you recognize the opportunity to push the limits of your comfort zone, follow that recognition without letting yourself get mired down by overthinking your decision.
Conversely, if you’re the sort of person who always acts by reacting, and rarely stops to consider all the information before choosing a course, slow down. Your comfort zone might be pushing aside your power to process information and make informed choices, leading you to choose the easiest path. Taking the time to consider the possibilities and outcomes, and respecting your thoughts and ideas might lead you to some uncomfortable places, such as challenging the assertions of others, or sticking up for what you think is right. If that sounds a little anxiety-inducing to you, then include this on your to-do list.
8. Recognize When You’re Making Excuses
Sometimes we don’t have it in us to step outside of our comfort zone. That’s okay. But try to recognize when you’re making a choice based on fear or anxiety, and be honest with yourself about it. Instead of telling yourself you’re too busy, or too tired, admit to yourself that you’re not willing to push yourself right now, and make a plan to return to this challenge sometime in the future.
9. Remember The Benefits Of Your New Behavior
When you know what you’d like to achieve by stepping out of your comfort zone, it becomes much easier to actually do it. Remind yourself of the possible outcomes, and use that as motivation to keep trying. Maybe you’ve always wanted to practice handling anxiety caused by speaking in public or going on interviews for a new job. Or you might decide to stick up for yourself at work or tackle the issues in a difficult relationship. Thinking about the specific benefits you’ll get from pushing yourself will help you leap into action.
This also applies to making lifestyle changes that can improve your bones and overall health. Think about the perks of following a nutritional plan to build your bones and starting a bone-smart exercise program, and then imagine the activities you’ll be able to do with your improved health: going on bike rides with a partner or spouse, playing with your grandchildren, getting back out on the tennis court. Envisioning specific goals is a powerful tool.
10. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
There’s a real vulnerability to leaving your comfort zone. There’s also a real thrill. Focus on what’s exciting and fun about trying new things and pushing yourself beyond your normal limits. When you don’t succeed, if you find yourself looking a little foolish, don’t be afraid to see the humor in the situation.
Being able to laugh at yourself, at a mistake or a misstep, will make the next risk easier to take on. If all of your attempts to practice discomfort feel tortuous, take a step back and find some smaller, sillier ways to push yourself. Wear a piece of clothing you wouldn’t normally wear; use a silly voice on the telephone; surprise yourself!
It’s Okay To Stay In Your Comfort Zone Most Of The Time
Just because we’re identifying the benefits of leaving your comfort zone doesn’t mean that you can’t stay in it. We all need a space where we feel comfortable and safe. We especially need it if we’re practicing confronting our fears or anxieties. Once you’ve identified where your comfort zone is, take refuge in it and feel empowered that you’re able to push yourself out of it for personal growth.
Your Newly-Found Courage Can Lead To Positive Changes
If you’d like to make changes to your habits and lifestyle while getting out of your comfort zone, remember it’s not easy to do that. And now that you have new tools to make the discomfort of change more manageable and less scary, you might want to go ahead and get started.
Savers know what that journey is like. Breaking away from the Medical Establishment’s guidelines to treat osteoporosis takes quite a bit of courage and resolution. It might mean pushing your doctor to consider new options, or flatly refusing to take ineffective and dangerous osteoporosis drugs your doctor might have prescribed. It probably also entails making changes to your diet, lifestyle and exercise routine.
You can gather more knowledge from tools such as the Osteoporosis Reversal Program and the many other resources available at Save Our Bones.
I hope you’ll apply the techniques described in today’s article because, as you’ve learned today, getting out of your comfort zone can make you sharper, healthier, and more resilient.
Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss
Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
Till next time,
1 Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson. “The Relation Of Strength Of Stimulus To Rapidity Of Habit-formation.” First published in Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology, 18, 459-482. (1908). Web: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Yerkes/Law/
1 Tabara, Yasuharu, PhD, et al. “Association of Postural Instability With Asymptomatic Cerebrovascular Damage and Cognitive Decline.” Stroke. December 18, 2014. Doi: 1.1161/SROKEAHA.114.006704. Web. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/12/18/STROKEAHA.114.006704.abstract