• How and Why to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

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    How and Why to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    No one likes to feel uncomfortable, even if only for a short while. Being comfortable is a good feeling and breaking out of one’s comfort zone can be scary. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try every once in a while. 

    Always staying in your comfort zone can hold you back from experiencing the fullness of life. It can keep you from achieving goals, discovering more about who you are, and finding joy and fulfillment. Have you ever considered riding a roller coaster, skydiving, or another extreme thrill experience and felt overwhelmingly nervous at the idea of doing such a thing? Did you push past those feelings and go for it anyway? How did you feel after? Exhilarated, confident, courageous, excited, joyful? Has that moment become a positive memory? 

    A 2023 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology (Russo-Netzer & Cohen) showed that venturing outside your comfort zone helps you grow and increases personal happiness. The more unhappy you are, the greater the impact such a courageous act can have. 

    The rollercoaster example is one of many. Maybe it is a trip, a public speaking engagement, a career change, a new activity, a different kind of food, or a unique meetup. It could be trying a headstand in yoga and feeling that rush of euphoria when you finally nail it. Maybe it is even as simple as calling an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while. You may be nervous to initiate the conversation, but it could turn out to be life-changing. 

    Moving beyond one’s self-imposed limits, helps you learn more about yourself. It helps you to open your mind and gain a clearer understanding of what makes you tick. Confronting and overcoming your fears can boost your sense of self and reduce stress in your body. It can help to better your overall mental health. 

    Comfort Zone Mental Health Happiness

    At CW Psychological Services in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, our counselors and therapists want all of our clients to live the most happy, fulfilling, and joyful lives they can. We understand that for many, coming to therapy can be a step outside of their comfort zone. If you are struggling with breaking out and trying something new, here are some tips to get you started:

    1.) Focus on the Desired Outcome

    What do you hope to achieve from stepping outside of your comfort zone? What could you gain as a person from attempting this thing that scares you? Maybe it is bragging rights, a unique experience, personal growth, or a fun memory with family or friends. Reminding yourself of the possible benefits can help you to move through your fear. 

    2.) What is the Worst-Case Scenario

    Consider the worst-case scenario and prepare to encounter it. Play it through in your mind. What would happen if you called that old friend and they didn’t answer, didn’t want to talk, or hung up on you? What if you went on that trip or road the roller coaster and hated every second? Play it out and plan your best response. This exercise can help you feel more prepared as you try a new adventure. 

    3.) Visualize the Best

    Now that you have prepared for the worst-case scenario, don’t focus on it. Instead, visualize things going well. Imagine meeting new people, trying new things, feeling more satisfied, fulfilled, and proud. Focusing on the positive outcomes can help motivate you.

    4.) Reward Yourself Each Step

    As Pavlov did with his dogs, reward yourself with something positive each time you complete a challenging task. Maybe the reward is a special treat, a bubble bath, or a nap. You deserve recognition every step along the way. 

    Comfort Zone Mental Health Happiness

    5.) Take a Gradual Approach

    Breaking down one big goal into many little parts can gradually introduce you to a new experience, making it more manageable. For example, say you want to run a marathon.  Start by running a 5K, then 8K, 10K, half, etc. Research the best races and training plans and ease into it. 

    6.) Rip off the Band-Aid

    If the gradual approach is not your thing, the other option is to jump right in–take a deep breath and go for it. It might not be easy at first, but it should get easier as you go. 

    7.) Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst

    If you hope for the best but expect the worst, you won’t be disappointed. Things are rarely ever as good or as bad as they seem. 

    8.) Embrace Fear

    Own it. It is perfectly natural to be afraid of something new and different. Change is hard. By naming your fear and breaking it down into manageable parts, you will gain some control over the situation.

    Comfort Zone Mental Health Happiness

    9.) Remind Yourself of Past Success

    Reminding yourself of past examples where you have embraced something new and been successful can help boost your confidence. Stroke your self-esteem and remember that success breeds success.

    10.) Find a Connection

    Connection with others can be vital to helping you succeed. Sharing your fear with others and finding camaraderie in embracing a challenge can help it feel less intimating. If you don’t have a friend to share your experience with then find others when you get there. 

    Getting Help

    Throughout your life, you will be faced with many challenges and desires that feel scary and overwhelming yet desirable. Remind yourself how boring life would be if things were always comfortable and if we always stayed within our self-imposed limits. Don’t let your comfort zone hold you back. 

    If you need help stepping outside of your comfort zone, even if only for a short while, we are here for you. Our counselors and therapists are skilled at helping clients determine and achieve what they truly desire out of this world. 

    Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?

    Counselors and associate-level clinicians at CW Psychological Services are professionally trained. We have openings for online or telehealth therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call (610) 308-7575. We want to help.