Everybody has their own ‘comfort zone’, a behavioural and psychological space where your habits fit a stress-free pattern. But staying wrapped into your cocoon might mean that you are missing out on experiences and adventures.
Embracing new skills and trying out unconventional things can favour your mental health, as it can change the way in which your brain is wired. Learning and picking up alternative hobbies can encourage the growth of new cells and connections inside your brain.
While our brain is more adaptable in our early years, taking up challenges brings a wide range of mental benefits regardless of how old you are. So, what can you do step out of your comfort zone?
SIA Austria, the largest ski instructor academy in Europe, explores how leaving your safe space from time to time can help open the doors to success.
How to cross the ‘comfort’ line
There is nothing wrong with being in your comfort zone, especially if it provides you with the safety and security you need.
However, getting too comfortable and holding yourself back can limit the potential to grow and develop as an individual.
Putting yourself into an unfamiliar situation can be daunting at first. But there are several steps you can take to gradually cross your ‘comfort’ line.
Take small steps
The biggest challenge of getting out of your comfort zone is taking that difficult first step.
Gary Clark, Director of Basecamp Adventures and SIA Austria, said:
“The reality is that all you need to do is make the first move, which is the trickier part of the process.
“For example, if you have finally decided to join the gym, your first day will be the hardest as you’ll be in a completely new environment. But in the long run, as you begin to gain momentum, you will find it easier to keep moving.
“When getting out of your comfort zone, think about taking small steps. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the new situation and build the confidence required to achieve your targets.
“If you have decided to learn how to ski, breaking down your end goal into smaller, manageable objectives will make it look more feasible. And by the time you have mastered your new skills, you may even decide to take up courses to become a ski instructor.”
Say “yes” more often
Another good way to put yourself into new environments or scenarios is to be open to new challenges at all times.
If at work, say, you are asked to carry out a brand-new assignment, task, or project, don’t let the natural feeling of uncertainty get the better of you. Consider saying ‘yes’ even if you have never done anything like it before.
First of all, it can open up significant opportunities in your career. Secondly, and more importantly, you might even discover that you enjoy doing something that you’ve never had the chance to explore before.
Sign up to clubs or volunteer groups
Joining a club or volunteer group is a great solution to help you step outside your comfort zone and try something new.
If you are trying to get into the habit of going for a jog twice a week, you may find that it is more motivating to do so in the company of fellow runners.
In fact, other people can positively influence your attitudes and emotional responses to exercise. This means that they can affect how you feel about running, actively determining whether you do it or not.
Likewise, if you are trying to learn a new language, you might find it more stimulating to brush up your French or Italian in the company of other polyglots.
Make snap decisions
Overthinking can create a cycle of unnecessary stress and worry that can lead you to feel less motivated, confident and prepared.
So, if you want to break free of your comfort zone, consider taking more impulsive decisions from time to time. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a life-or-death decision, but just a choice that is unusual for your routine.
Snap decisions are also a good technique to instil self-trust. Have you ever dreamt about going on a solo trip but have been worrying about the implications of travelling on your own?
Choose a not-too-destination to start with and book your flights – once it is done, you will end up sticking to your travel plans and be glad that you took the plunge.
The benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone
As children, we are more inclined to taking risks and seeking different challenges. But as we grow older and begin to develop a fear for failure, it becomes more difficult to maintain the courage to attempt new things.
However, stepping outside of your safe space can provide you with a wide array of advantages. Here are a few to keep in mind:
- Growth experience – No matter the final outcome, taking on new challenges will provide you with life-long lessons that you can always tap into in the future. Even if you make mistakes or ‘fail’ at first, you are bound to take something out of the experience. So giving new things a go, regardless of whether you are successful or not, can act as crucial moments of personal and professional growth.
- Deal with change – Let’s be honest – situations can turn when you least expect them to. Leaving your comfort zone on a regular basis means that you will be better equipped to deal with change, helping you cope more efficiently with your many life transitions.
- Discover untapped resources – When you challenge yourself, you are more prone to dip into your personal store of untapped knowledge and skills. The truth is that most of the time, we are not aware of what we’re truly capable of doing. Venturing outside familiar territory can help you discover innate resources you didn’t know you had, which you can in turn utilise in your day-to-day activities.
- Increase your desire for success – As you embrace new skills and journey on new challenges, you will feel proud to have taken the leap.
Each milestone you reach will make it easier to strive for new ambitions. In fact, success breeds more success, as it gives you the confidence, experience, and desire to keep on pushing your boundaries.