terptree: My Comfy Chair – Have You Done Something New Lately?

Search This Blog

Thursday, 28 July 2016

My Comfy Chair – Have You Done Something New Lately?

At home I have a favourite chair. It’s in the right spot to see the telly, it isn’t in a draft, the sun doesn’t get in my eyes when I sit there and it is now nicely moulded into my body so I feel comfortable. Sometimes when we have visitors, they will sit in my chair and I need to sit in a different chair. This feels very uncomfortable for me, I can’t see the telly, I have sun in my eyes, there is a draft on my neck. I don’t like it! I feel anxious! I am quite literally out of my comfort zone.

Yet, often I find that after a while, I see things I haven’t seen for a while, like noticing a picture on my wall I really like, but don’t see from my normal comfy chair. Or an ornament that I had forgotten I had because I can’t see it from my normal spot. It might even be that I see some dust under the television and it makes me get the duster out.

I start to see the benefit of sitting in a different chair from time to time, I get to experience things I haven’t for a while, I get a different perspective on things and I am spurred into action to do something I have been putting off!

This is to demonstrate how it is good to get out of your comfort zone sometimes. Now, I know it is nice to be in a comfortable place, your anxiety levels don’t rise and you don’t have to take any action. In addition, your brain knows that you are safe.

Have you ever walked into a new setting and felt anxiety because you don’t know anyone? You find a chair and sit there. Nothing bad happens, you don’t get eaten by a lion or anything and your brain anchors to that chair. The next time you go there you are likely to sit in the same chair, because your brain sees it as safe.

It also takes time and energy to get out of your comfort zone, so on days when we are tired, busy or otherwise distracted it is harder to do anything different or out of our routine. We don’t have the capacity to cope with the anxiety that moving from the familiar requires.

However, scientific research suggests that getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing. There is an ‘optimal anxiety level’ that can be beneficial to you for various reasons (which I will go into in a moment). In this optimal anxiety level, you are in your learning zone. The trick is to get into this zone without tipping over into the panic zone (which isn’t a good place to be, as it can make the learning or performance stop!)

It is believed that moving out of comfort zone in to the learning zone leads to personal growth and development, which in turn can lead to feelings of accomplishment and confidence.

In addition, the more you move out of your comfort zones, the more your comfort zone grows. This means that you get to try more and more new things without feeling so anxious about it.

Moving out of your comfort zone helps us learn because novelty increases dopamine levels. Your memory will improve and you will become more open to learning. Because you get inspired and you are learning, creativity is also expanded.

So when you have successfully acclimatised to your new level of anxiety, this means your comfort zone has expanded. Congratulations, with each expansion, you will have an easier time of dealing with new and unexpected changes, you will be able to more easily prepare for life changes and you will find it easier to push your boundaries in the future!

The problem with sticking in your comfort zone, while it feels safe, is that it kills productivity. It is also not very exciting or adventurous. When we are comfortable, we do what we need to get done, we lose drive and ambition. It’s like pretending to be busy so that you can stay in that safe place without having to do anything new.

The answer is to push your personal boundaries and find a level of optimal anxiety.

Ideally you will want to find a balance between security and comfort, alongside a little bit of novelty and excitement. You need to find your optimal level of anxiety. This will be different for everyone, so the trick is to find yours. This means you can experience anxiety in a controlled way and the anxiety brings out your best.

Here are a four ways you can move out of your comfort zone.

1. Change things up when making decisions

If you normally make snap decisions, start taking time over them. Think, don’t react and be more measured. So I might ask myself whether I want or need the pair of shoes or new handbag before buying it!

Conversely if you tend to think things through before making a decision, start to make more snap decisions (maybe a nice impulse buy will be good for you!)

2. Do Something Different Everyday

This can be as simple as taking a new route to work, making your cup of tea before your shower (or vice versa) or even try sitting a different chair (although, if you are like me, you might need to work your way up to that one!)

3. Run on Different Terrain

I don’t necessarily mean literally, although if you are a runner you can try this! But this could mean just trying something new like learning a new skill, volunteering, going to a new place or working in an area you haven’t worked in before. Get in touch with those butterflies you get in your tummy at the thought of doing something new – interpret them as excitement not anxiety and enjoy!!

By doing some, or all of these things, you will start to make stretching your boundaries a habit of its own. You don’t need to do everything at once either, you can do it in small steps. Don’t be afraid to start slow – you will get the same benefits as when you do it all in one go. Start by identifying your fears and facing them one at a time and step by step.

4. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself

I really care what people think and I hate feeling embarrassed, either by my own actions or on behalf of someone else. This really takes me out of my comfort zone. Yet one of the most exciting, invigorating things I ever did was sing in public. Now I’m not much of a singer at all, and I’m sure there were numbers of people laughing at me, but I had a great time and for once forgot to worry about what people thought of me.

5. Ask yourself “what is the worst thing that can happen?”

For me, the worst things that can happen when I try something new are that I make a fool of myself or I fail. Yet neither of these things are as scary as not trying the new thing. At least failing provides me with a platform for learning and if I make a fool of myself, then maybe I just brightened someone’s day a bit.

Don’t Forget to Come Back to your Comfort Zone

Make sure you come back to your comfort zone before you reach your panic zone. This way you can reflect upon, and process, your learning from your venturing and this will leave you free to prepare for the next time you push those boundaries.

Hopefully you now have some real tools to bring excitement, productivity and learning into your life through really pushing your boundaries.

Go on – try something different today, I would love to hear how you got on….

Until next time…..

No comments: