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How's Your Comfort Zone?

Have you ever heard yourself saying ‘I’m out of my Comfort Zone’? - I know I have! It’s a commonly used phrase when we experience new challenges or are learning a new skill or behaviour.

Reactions to this can range from being exhilarated to suffering severe anxiety.

So, what’s going on to bring about these different reactions?

When we’re learning something new or adapting to a new environment, we all have different levels of tolerance to how we react. Some people thrive on it and don’t get uptight or at least don’t show it outwardly. However, the majority of us will experience some level of discomfort when looking to expand our boundaries or achieve new goals. We all have different triggers that shape our reactions to new situations. An example for me would be getting to grips with new technology – Technology For The Terrified could’ve been written for me!!

These past 2 years of living in the pandemic has tested all our Comfort Zones. Things we took for granted were shaken to their core. Staying physically apart from others even in our family – not being able to hug or give a handshake. Walking in the street 2m apart brought a new focus to the word “zone”. The area we could live in I.e.our homes, or areas to avoid I.e. within 2m outside. This did not convey comfort as we knew it so our Comfort Zone was regularly tested.

What were your feelings then? Were they different from what you were used to?

What happens if, when learning a new skill or stepping out Post Covid, we do experience tension/ anxiety? Well this is a safety mechanism by your brain to protect you from harm. It’s engaging the stress response called “Flight or Fight” or “Freeze”. It’s a response that sends specific physical symptoms to put you on high alert to either run or fight and takes us back to caveman/woman days.

Problem is it can go into full overboard and can stop you moving forward as FEAR sets in. What has changed from our prehistoric ancestors is the threat. It’s no longer fighting the big hairy mammoth to survive but is it:-

  • worry about going out again and feeling confident not having the protection of wearing a mask?

  • how will I cope with retirement?

  • the threat about learning a new technology skill and thinking everyone else can do it except you- oh yes that’s a big hairy mammoth to me!

  • taking a test or exam

  • going back into the office after 2 years working at home

  • speaking in public, either in person or onscreen eg Zoom

If we experience these feelings it can stop us enjoying life to the full as anxiety takes over.

Some of the physical symptoms we can experience are:-

  • increased pulse and breathing rates

  • tense muscles

  • nervy tummy and need to get to the loo - quick

  • feeling hot and flushed

Some thought processes you might be aware of are:-

  • I can’t do this

  • it’s too scary

  • everyone will think I’m stupid/ crazy

  • I need to get out of here and retreat to my safe place.

Have you experienced this? I certainly have. Has it stopped you trying to do something you want to do? If so this is a restriction in your Comfort Zone.

Retreating to your safe place is not a failure - sometimes we need to do that to keep ourselves safe. That’s the primitive part of your brain wanting to take you out of danger but it can’t decipher the specific risk. This is where the cognitive part of our brain comes in where we can rationalise it. Rationalise the fear. We can ask ourselves questions such as why we feel like we do and why we think we can’t do it.

Explaining this process is outlining the stress response which is a blog for another day. When we can’t do what we want or don’t feel able to try we will experience negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, distress, anger, jealousy. They will have the effect of taking us further away from what we want to do. Resulting in restricting and shrinking of our Comfort Zone and unfulfilled goals.

To enable us to live a fulfilling life, the stimulus of trying new things, finding out new information, to enable find a solution to a problem then pushing our boundaries are all important. If we don’t, we will become restricted in our environments and if we stop trying new things or keep up with existing beneficial activities our level of comfort will decrease. This can lead to low mood, increased anxiety, phobias and possible depression. Does this sound familiar with lockdown?

If we give doing something new a go and even if it doesn’t work first time but we try again our Comfort Zone will increase. Leading to increased satisfaction and confidence in our abilities and enhanced mood.

The opposite of anxiety is relaxation. Learning techniques to relax are life skills that you can then apply to trying anything new. They are a key player in my Self-help tool kit. The more relaxed you are the more likely you are going to succeed

If you want to expand your Comfort Zone, do it in stages. Think about what calms and relaxes you and see the change that brings by introducing it at the same time as the new experience or skill. Allow yourself time to try. After what we’ve been through with the pandemic look for enjoyment in new experiences or reintroducing past activities.

Hypnotherapy is a wonderful technique to experience relaxation, reduce anxiety and tackle self limiting beliefs and so increase your Comfort Zone and achieve your goals. If you would like a free chat with me about whether this might be a benefit to you please contact me by clicking here.

You have control on how big your Comfort Zone can be – you decide how far you want it to grow!

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