And this is me speaking from my own experience: I radically changed my profession twice, changed countries three times, always chose to take a risk, and looked at fear not as a barrier but as a challenge.
And yet, I still say: don’t go out of your comfort zone.
Obviously, this requires some explanation.There are actually 2 types of comfort zones:*
There are actually 2 types of comfort zones:*
*This is my personal classification. But it seems to be working pretty damn well for myself and for others I know, and, most importantly, it allows me to keep my mind at peace, therefore mentally and physically healthy. I lost quite a chunk of the latter in a nervous breakdown, by going way too far out of my comfort zone.
You don’t have to take this classification for granted and I don’t advise that you do. Instead, I recommend that you: read more about it and see if it’s applicable in your life. Try it by observing your emotional and physical state, after applying a different combination of the zone types, that I will explain further below.
This is the one that everyone talks about.
There are plenty of quotes like:
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch
What is External Comfort Zone?
It’s your zone of comfort outside of your body that is made up of your daily routines, habits, and the people/things that you’re accustomed to.
If you want to get out of this zone, you need to change your surroundings or your routines.
This could mean a physical action, like jumping with a parachute, traveling, riding a bike, asking a question you were afraid to ask, etc. All of these suggestions are advised to be done to in order to taste life from a different angle; to live fully and gain new experiences that are very different from your normal everyday routine.
Changing your environment, as well as your activities, will be good for you. Especially, for your brain.
A bit of science.
Writing a thesis about why and in what circumstances creativity is born, I learned that introducing ourselves to new experiences stimulates brain activity that creates new neural connections. This stimulates signals between our neurons and allows our brain to stay “awake”. Overall, this has a positive impact on the body.
This or your “comfortable” or peaceful state of mind. Your internal zone of “zen”. It’s your healthy nervous system, your mental health.
Usually, it is directly linked and, unfortunately, depends upon our external zone:
If we’re surrounded by things we know, we feel comfortable.
In some cases, the most ideal cases, a change in your environment (going out of your external zone) will change your internal comfort zone.
Now, my observations and opinions.
UNHEALTHY COMBINATIONS OF YOUR COMFORT ZONES:
– Changing External + Changing Internal
You definitely don’t want to jump from a parachute if you have a heart condition/problem. Ok, as an example, let’s say you don’t have a serious or chronic heart disease, but that you’ve just gotten out of a tough break up (your internal comfort zone has been shaken up) and you immediately thereafter decide to completely change your profession (external change). If it’s a radical change that you’ve never done before it will require a ton of your internal strength to face the new challenges you will encounter each day (choosing a profession, education, deciding whether to work for someone else or for yourself, etc).Of course, it’s all relative. If you decide to jump from a parachute after a tough breakup, but it’s a one time thing or a short experience that you have chosen as a way to express your emotions and “restart” yourself, (plus you’re confident about your physical health and the stability of your nervous system), then such a “boost” can be a good way for you to start a new life.
Of course, it’s all relative. If you decide to jump from a parachute after a tough breakup, but it’s a one time thing or a short experience that you have chosen as a way to express your emotions and “restart” yourself, (plus you’re confident about your physical health and the stability of your nervous system), then such a “boost” can be a good way for you to start a new life.
Personally, I wouldn’t ever do it. But, if you’re perhaps an adventurous type like Richard Branson (the ultimate Mr. “YES” man), then go for it. It’s definitely very personal.
And yes, you need to know yourself well enough to be able to make such decisions.
Either way, it’s vital to know that if you commit to a long lasting journey which will take you out of your external comfort zone over and over, that if you don’t devote the time necessary to restore your physical and mental resources, every new change will be increasingly detrimental to your health.
Our nervous system can adapt to a new radical change (positive or negative), but this change requires a hell of a lot of resources and a restoration period afterwards. We often forget how crucial this is, because social media, our society in general, and personal ambitions in particular, are pushing us to climb the latest Mt. Everest every single day.
This goes AGAINST our natural biological processes! It’s up to you to decide what matters most to you: your health in the long run or your ambition (which is often fueled by other people’s opinion).
MY STORY: LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES, NOT YOURS
1. Be aware of too many “NEWS” or choose your timing wisely
Right after obtaining my Bachelor Degree, and after a few crazy months working at Young & Rubicam, I decided to move from Moscow to Barcelona: new university, new country, new mentality, new language, new profession (from international economy to design management), new people, new culture, new apartment (actually a room), new climate, new food, etc.
On top of this, I also decided to become a vegetarian. I thought that Barcelona would be a great place to do so, with the ever present sun, great food choices, and lots of readily available seafood and fish that I could eat as a meat substitute.
After a couple of weeks of my new lifestyle (“ZERO” meat), my health rapidly declined. I didn’t crave meat, as I thought I would, but was even more surprised by how extremely weak I felt. Although my mind was totally “for” this new change, my body didn’t support (was “against”) this.
In fact, I got so weak that I couldn’t study as I previously had or even move around as much as I normally did.
Of course, I returned to my old eating habits really quickly.
Let’s put aside all of the reasons for my choice, as well as your opinion about vegetarians in general.
That’s not the point here. The point is that it was the WRONG time to do this. So choose your timing wisely.
There were so many other challenges (physical and psychological) that my body had to adapt to (and therefore devote lots of resources to) every single day, that adding a new thing on top of that, was a big mistake.
My advice (take it or leave it): look around and really analyse what’s currently happening in your life and consider your mental/physical state before committing to a life changing decision. It’s totally OK to postpone it if there are some other priorities that require your attention at the moment.
Be kind to yourself.
Another example: After a while, I moved again. I quit my job as well, almost simultaneously. But being stressed out with basic life issues wasn’t enough (like where to live and where to work), so I added a new one: find the job of my dreams.
This example is not so much about timing, but about priorities: it’s SUPER important to first cover the basic and most essential things necessary for your living needs (such as home, food and health requirements) before starting to satisfy other more intangible needs (self-expression, pleasure from work and life in general, etc).
Cover the base of your pyramid first, before climbing to the top.
*read more about the importance of it and how to do that in my article Cover Your Basics Before Climbing to The Top
HEALTHY COMBINATIONS OF YOUR COMFORT ZONES:
– Changing External + Preserving Internal=
Changing your environment, physical action, adventure + staying relatively, and more importantly, naturally calm and at peace with yourself/situation (or giving yourself good time to restore your energy).
– Changing Internal + Preserving External=
Adapting to a new lifestyle, a new mindset, diet, character changes + having an external support: a base you can return to restore yourself (your home, family, daily routines, job, and individuals that you’ve been involved with for quite some time). Let your stable surroundings help you.
HEALTH. CHANGE. TIME.
Changing an environment (not in a radical but in a mild way) from time to time is healthy.
Changing it all the time (turning your world upside down) in the long term isn’t. It’s exactly the opposite: it’s damaging.
It’s that simple. But it seems to be by default when we talk about going out of our comfort zone.The more radical the change, the more strength and resources will be required from your body (especially your nervous system). And if you keep pushing yourself over the edge for a long time, those resources might drain quite fast.
The more radical the change, the more strength and resources will be required from your body
(especially your nervous system). And if you keep pushing yourself over the edge for a long time, those resources might drain quite fast.
Of course, it all depends on your body, your character, and the ability of your nervous system (as well as other systems) to recover itself.Although I’m not sure what’s better here:
Although I’m not sure what’s better here:
– To see the impact of radical “getting out of your comfort zone” right away, because your body didn’t have enough resources to adapt to a new environment. In this situation, you have more chances to change your behaviour with a relatively small and fixable “damage”
– Or not seeing any consequence from your actions for a long time, and therefore, not understanding the necessity “to slow down” at the right time.
Simply put, going out of your comfort zone means committing to a change
Making it happen in a safe/comfortable environment is the healthiest thing to do if you plan to live a long life while staying productive until the end.
MY RECOMMENDATION (take it or leave it):
- Never leave both of your comfort zones at the same time.
You will lose much more than you’ll gain.
- Choose one comfort zone to get out of (external or internal) and keep the other one stable, so you can rely on it to find your balance.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN:
Observe, apply, and make your own conclusions. Don’t allow anyone or thing to make decisions that can affect your health.
Live with passion,
Featured image courtesy of: https://unsplash.com/@tidesinourveins
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