Have you explored your comfort zone? Do you know how to push yourself gently out of your comfort zone, yet catch yourself before you cross into a dangerous zone of stress and anxiety? A quote by Neale Donald Walsch claims, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Is this the case in your life?
Break down the zones in your life
Let’s break down the idea of comfort zone for a moment. Your comfort zone is generally the place in your life that is safe and predictable. Though this can be a good place to catch your breath in life, it’s also a place where you can get stuck. It’s important to regularly step gently outside of your comfort zone and enter a place that has been called the “stretch zone” or the “learning zone.” This is a place where you’re opening yourself up to some uncertainty in life, but you’re also giving yourself a healthy challenge, and an opportunity to learn and grow. Often times, this is a beautiful place where the magic happens in life.
Yet, if you step too far outside of your comfort zone, you might end up in the “anxiety zone” or “stress zone.” This is a place of fear, stress, danger and extreme discomfort. In the anxiety zone, all of your energy is devoted to coping with anxiety, and you find yourself gasping for air just to stay afloat. From a holistic health perspective, the anxiety zone is also the place where self-sabotage and emotional eating often occur.
Though many people tend to spend a lot of their time within their comfort zones, there are also many people who consistently push themselves into the anxiety zone. Living in the anxiety zone can be unhealthy and unsustainable. Some people may actually yo-yo back and forth between extreme comfort and extreme anxiety; either keeping themselves too safe, or pushing themselves to the brink of a meltdown.
Find a healthy balance with your zones
It’s worth it to think about your personal zones and try to find your healthy balance. If you’re spending too much time in your comfort zone, it might be time to gently push yourself in new ways. If you’re spending too much time in the anxiety zone, it might be time to take a step back. Here are some things you can do to start exploring your personal zones:
a) Ask yourself these simple questions:
“Which zone do I spend most of my time in?”
“Am I stuck in any of these zones?”
b) Make a list of things you can do to step gently outside of your comfort zone.
Things like reaching out to new people, trying a new sport or applying for a new job are all ideas for ways you might push yourself gently outside of your comfort zone. You might be slightly fearful or hesitant to try some of these things, but consider giving yourself a gentle push. This is the time to feel the fear, and do it anyway. A regular and diverse yoga practice is also a great way to gently push yourself outside of your yoga practice. Be brave, and give that headstand a try!
c) Make a list of things that push you too far outside of your comfort zone into the anxiety zone.
These are the things that go beyond giving you butterflies in your stomach; anything that makes you break out in a cold sweat or start trembling should be included on this list. For many, public speaking is at the top of the list of anxieties. Is there anything in your life right now that is consistently pushing you into your anxiety zone? Or perhaps you’re pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone in too many ways, which can also collectively result in anxiety. If so, what can you do to change this?
This is just one way of restoring balance to your life and getting to know what works best for you. Ready to go deeper? Check out my free guide to start listening to your unique body.