When I was younger, and I found myself faced with new situations, my Dad would often tease me out of my comfort zone with a jovial, rhetorical question: "Come on, where's your sense of adventure?!"
He would usually then go on to tell me that yes, I could always hide under my bed all day, where I knew I'd be safe - but of course, where's the fun in that?
According to science, when we are in our comfort zone, we experience a steady, low level of anxiety. When we move out of our comfort zone, we experience a heightened level of anxiety.
There is a certain sweet spot, somewhere between standard low level anxiety and high level panic mode that’s been deemed our “learning zone”. It’s in this learning zone (or when we are experiencing “optimal anxiety”) that we focus our efforts and perform at our peak.
In addition to optimal performance, here's just some of the other benefits you can experience from breaking out of your comfort zone:
1. Personal growth
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience."
Essentially, a new adventure can enable us to grow and become our best self. Activities that can induce anxiety and unease can leave us feeling exhilarated when completed.
This feeling of accomplishment can help increase our confidence and help us to develop a stronger sense of self.
2. Improved ability to learn
Novelty is believed to help improve memory and increase learning potential.
3. New opportunities
Trying something new creates the possibility for you to enjoy something new! Whether it’s experiencing new cities, new cultures, new activities, new foods – you never know what you might discover, who you might meet, or what other opportunities may arise.
New activities and adventures will prevent you from becoming bored.
5. Increased creativity
Particularly when it comes to travel, research has found that the concept of distance can improve creative thoughts and insights. New experiences and learning new skills can make us reflect on our old ideas, inspire us to learn more and challenge our confirmation bias.
According to a study from Winston-Salem State University, people who engage in a variety of experiences are more lively to retain positive emotions and minimise negative ones.
7. Increased resilience
Research professor, author and Ted Talk presenter Brene Brown explained how challenging yourself to try new things, particularly in a relatively controlled environment, can help us to deal with new and unexpected life changes.
Be yourself, but be your best self x
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