We often hear people talk about the importance of getting out of our comfort zone. This is because so many of us get so comfortable in our routines that we rarely get out of them. We just do the same things every single day. Talk to the same people, eat the same food, and watch the same TV shows.
Most of us do this not just because it’s comfortable and comforting but also because we’re scared. We’re afraid all the time – of all the things we don’t know or understand. Of things we haven’t yet tried.
The problem is that if we let this fear rule us, sooner or later, it will start taking over other parts of our life, too. If we’re afraid of striking up a conversation with a complete stranger, we might eventually become afraid of talking to a friend we haven’t seen in a long time, too.
Then, one day, we might find that our comfort zone has actually become very small. Now we can’t do almost anything without feeling anxious about it.
This isn’t good for us. What was once something that made us feel calm and safe is now actively contributing to our poor mental health. So, how do we stop this shrinking of our comfort zone? What should we do instead?
One of the things we can always try to do is expand our comfort zone. Instead of letting it get smaller and smaller, we can try and make it bigger, bit by bit.
This doesn’t mean that we always have to take extreme steps and jump out of a plane every weekend. Expanding our comfort zone doesn’t have to be a painful process. It can be a slow one, an adventurous and fun one instead. Simply doing small things that are only a little bit out of our comfort zone can have a huge positive impact on the quality of our life.
All the fun is outside of your comfort zone
Think back to some of your favorite memories. The ones that you love telling people about. What are those moments? Did they happen within your comfort zone? Or are your best anecdotes about the times you were brave and something unexpected happened as a result?
Most of us like to share our stories with others. We like to talk about that one time we accidentally stole an enchilada kit from the supermarket or that other time when we tore our pants while trying to climb over an old fence. These are the stories that are fun and interesting. No one wants to tell a story about yet another day they spent on their couch watching TV. We all want to share something exciting instead.
This is one of the reasons why stepping out of your comfort zone is so important. It makes for fun memories. It makes you grin stupidly as you recall all the trouble you got yourself into.
At the end of the day, you might struggle to remember which episode of Grey’s Anatomy you watched yesterday. But you won’t ever forget the time you made a friend in the supermarket because you were brave and started arguing with them about what the best flavor of chips is.
Scary then, easy now
The wonderful thing about stepping out of your comfort zone is that, eventually, it will make you grow bolder. By expanding your comfort zone and becoming more okay with doing things that once terrified you, you will become a braver and more confident person overall.
What was once scary to even think about will eventually become second nature to you. By taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone, you’ll slowly adjust your boundaries. You’ll practice doing things that have always made you anxious, and one day you might realize that they don’t actually make you anxious at all anymore.
That’s the beauty of facing your fears. If you do it enough times, you might find that they’re not your fears anymore. They’re just things you do, from time to time, without having to painfully overthink it.
This is where life begins
There is a reason we get told to get out of our comfort zone so often. It’s because getting out of your comfort zone is where life begins. It’s where adventure trumps fear, where excitement beats nervousness.
Steps to take
It’s not always easy to know where to begin, so here are some ideas you can try out:
Talk to someone new or estranged
Talking to people you’re not comfortable around is often nerve-racking. But it’s also the only way you can make new connections and build new relationships.
Next time you’re outside, try talking to someone you don’t know (or don’t know well). It doesn’t have to be anything big at first. You can just say hello. Ask the shopping assistant how they are. Thank the bus driver. Anything, really. Just go out there and get talking.
Try a new restaurant
We all have our favorite foods that we want to eat all the time. Whether it’s Mexican, Indian, or Italian, it’s okay to have preferences. But why not try being a bit more adventurous every now and then?
Look online and see if maybe there is a new restaurant that just opened near you. If so, perhaps it’s time to support new local businesses and try something new for once? Who knows, maybe you’ll discover your new favorite dish.
Sign up for a course
Picking up a new skill is always useful, so why not sign up for a course?
Maybe you need help with meal prep. Maybe you just want to take some acting lessons for fun. Either way, signing up for a course is an excellent way of stepping out of your comfort zone. You’ll meet new people, try new things, and maybe even discover a secret passion you didn’t know you had.
Face your anxieties
Finally, think about any specific fears that you might have.
Do you suffer from a bit of phone call anxiety? Then try calling someone.
Are you afraid of exercising in front of people? Go for a quick run in your local park.
Do these small things to ease your anxieties. Once you try them, you might just realize that you needn’t have been afraid the entire time. Expand your comfort zone, and see yourself flourish.