How to control fear and expand our comfort zone

(Illustration: Shutterstock)
Humans are creatures of habit. We generally prefer to stick to what we know because it can be the safest option. The space we operate in familiarity is known to most as the comfort zone. اضافة اعلان

The comfort zone is developed through years of experience and trial and error. And while it may be a safe option, there are many benefits to stepping outside our comfort zone and taking certain reasonable risks.

Many psychiatrists define the comfort zone as the psychological, emotional, and behavioral construct that defines the routine of our daily life and comes with a sense of familiarity, safety, and security. Our comfort zone gives us a safe place to operate where we feel stable and confident.

Comfort zones are usually only discussed when someone encourages us to break out of them. Still, it is also important to acknowledge the value of having a space you are comfortable in. Spending all our time outside our comfort zones could place undue stress that may seriously impact our overall well-being and quality of life.

For many of us, though, there is a fine line between the necessary comfort and the restriction of comfort. Once too reliant or comfortable, we can become trapped and fear taking risks or explore what life offers outside our zone.

A study from Duke University on Comfort Zone Orientation concluded that the boundaries of people’s comfort zones are built by their own motives and how they expect to feel if they perform their motivated task. The research indicates that although it may feel out of our hands, we created our own comfort zone.
The comfort zone is developed through years of experience and trial and error.
The walls we put up for ourselves are based on our own self-image and feelings of self-efficacy. And if we built it the first time, we can knock it down and build it again.

The comfort zone is a double-edged sword. It may feel like the only place we can cruise by without stress, but it may be the very thing causing us more stress.

A 2018 Yale Journal explained that it is important for the brain to have certain times to learn and other times to rest. Through an experiment conducted on monkeys — who were tested with buttons and a reward system — researchers concluded that the only time we actually learn is when we take risks.

This study gave the monkeys two options: an orange button that provided a reward 80 percent of the time and a blue button that offered 20 percent of the time. Once the monkeys learned these probabilities, they no longer wanted to take the risk and chose to press only the orange button. According to the brain activity related to learning in the frontal lobe of the monkeys, once they knew the safer option, the monkeys fell into a routine and stopped learning.
Deep down, even without scientific evidence, everyone knows that we gain nothing when we operate in our norm.
This mechanism serves as an adaptation to conserve energy and reduce anxiety. Our brain will likely prioritize comfort with no risks, and therefore no learning or growth will occur.

Deep down, even without scientific evidence, everyone knows that we gain nothing when we operate in our norm. A study from 1908 concluded that a state of comfort ensured steady performance but to maximize performance levels, we need to be in a space of optimal anxiety.

In short, we benefit from a little fear of the unknown.

As the author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, said: “Humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.” This is known as the Goldilocks Rule, and Clear believes that the key to expanding our comfort zone is doing so in a balanced and controlled manner.

Rhonda Britten, the founder of the Fearless Living Institute, described the comfort zone and its surroundings as a dartboard. The bullseye is our comfort zone. The ring right outside it would be your “stretch zone.”

The stretch zone includes things we know we can and should do but have not done. This could include going to the gym, the dentist, or starting a yoga routine in the morning.

The ring further outside this one is the “risk zone,” where there is greater uncertainty. These are the things we wish we could do but never thought were possible for us. For some, this includes cutting sugar out of their diet, making a new friend, or trying a new team sport. Although these things are doable for nearly everyone, we may view them as impossible for ourselves.

The last zone, the furthest from the comfort zone, is the “death zone.” These are the things you secretly want but would never tell anyone about because of the overwhelming fear of failing at them. It could be quitting your office job to start a music career, traveling across the world alone, or even skydiving.

It is important to control how much time we spend in each ring, including the bullseye.

In one of the most viewed Ted Talks of all time, life coach Mel Robbins shares with us how to take that first step with an idea she called the “Five-Second Rule”. 

The Five-Second Rule states that if you have an impulse to act on a goal, you need to physically move within five seconds, or your brain will kill the idea. She suggests setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you normally wake up. When it goes off, actually get up and start your morning.

The willpower amount it takes to do this is the same as doing something like opening the door and going for a walk or laying down your yoga mat and stretching. And the more we practice using this mental force for simple things like waking up, the easier trying new things will come to us.
The Five-Second Rule states that if you have an impulse to act on a goal, you need to physically move within five seconds, or your brain will kill the idea.
Slowly, more things from the stretch zone will enter your comfort zone, allowing you to build healthy and productive habits. Some things may never enter the bullseye, but that is perfectly acceptable. As the bullseye expands, so will confidence and self-assurance, and those death zone dreams may not seem so scary anymore.

Here is a list of things to try for those struggling to find things for their stretch zone and risk zone.
1. Food and meals: We have to eat around three times a day. This serves as a perfect opportunity to grow and learn more about ourselves. Try a new restaurant you were scared you might not like. Teach yourself to cook or bake a simple recipe that you never tried before. Maybe even try new foods and ingredients, or better yet, some foods you hated as a child.  

2. Go back to your childhood: Try a hobby you used to have as a child but have since given up on. Try finger painting or sculpting, and do not worry about being good or bad. Instead, remind yourself that even adults are allowed to have fun and try new things.

3. Try something you never thought you would like: If you already enjoy sitting inside and reading, try joining a biking club. If you enjoy baseball, try writing poems. If you enjoy knitting, try archery. Humans are too unique and multifaceted to let you put yourself in a box. You can enjoy activities that contradict or have nothing to do with each other. No matter how niche a skill may be, it can serve a practical function in your day-to-day life.

Read more Health
Jordan News