By: Nanette Fairley
March 3, 2021
Doing things you have always done can be comforting and easy. Living comfortably within your familiar routines decreases stress and uncertainty. It provides mental security and is much less energy draining.
Brené Brown, a research professor and author, defines comfort zone as “Where our uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability are minimized — where we believe we’ll have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration. Where we feel we have some control.”
The challenge is, Ms. Brown says, “When we get into times of social, political or financial instability, our comfort zones get smaller. The more afraid we are”, she said, “the more impenetrable our comfort zone buffers become.”
But let’s not demonize our comfort zone as something holding us back. Let’s look at the myriad of benefits stepping outside of your comfort zone can bring. These include:
- You’ll have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected changes – your resilience is likely to increase. Learning to live outside your comfort zone at times of your choice can prepare you for life changes that force you out of it.
- You’ll find it easier to push your boundaries in the future. Once you start stepping out of your comfort zone, it gets easier over time.
- You’ll find it easier to harness your creativity. Seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas can inspire and educate.
- You’ll build confidence. Small steps outside your comfort zone will give you the confidence to take bigger steps in the future.
- You’ll grow your community. As very often, stepping out means meeting new people, your circle of connections will grow.
- Life becomes more interesting. And you become more interesting! If you feel the joy has gone out of your Third Age, how can you spice it up?
- New challenges and experiences rewire your brain and make it more adaptable, stronger, and healthier. New learning contributes to your cognitive health.
- You will be so proud that you did it!
- You will expand your insight and gain a new perspective.
- Embracing new challenges can help you age better. Our comfort zones tend to shrink as we get older — but if we can keep expanding them, we’ll open ourselves up to greater fulfillment and improved well-being as we age.
Everyone’s comfort zone is different, and what may open your eyes may paralyze someone else with fear. So don’t feel you have to ‘keep up with the Jones’ in this space!
Here are some ways to expand your comfort zone comfortably!
- Do everyday things differently.
- Take your time making decisions.
- Trust yourself when you need to make snap decisions.
- Do it in small steps.
It can take a lot of courage to break out of your comfort zone. When was the last time you did something for the first time?