Comfort Zone: Step Out of It Regularly to Up Your Performance
Comfort zone. You know…where you like to stay and not move from, like a couch that molds itself to your body. Who doesn’t want to stay in his or her comfort zone? But it’s good for us to step out of it, often.
Two psychologists, Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson, researched in 1908, what came to be known as “optimal anxiety.” They learned that obtaining a constant level of comfort created a constant level of performance. Furthermore, they discovered that in order to maximize performance, a state of relative anxiety needed to be achieved. The levels are tricky however. Optimal anxiety occurs just outside of your comfort zone, without inducing so much stress that it negatively decreases your performance. So it’s about pushing the envelope just enough. Olympic athletes know a thing or two about this.
List of 25 Things
Several years ago, I decided to challenge myself, at the start of the new year, to do at least 25 things over the course of the year ahead, that were out of my comfort zone. I had things on it like, “drive to downtown Atlanta to attend an honorary breakfast I was invited to,” as well as “go on a bike ride to the Greenway,” when I knew that copperhead snakes had been sighted there a few days before. I also attended a musical concert alone because my husband was stuck somewhere else. All of these things were out of my comfort zone.
This list became a “thing,” along with my New Year’s Day Vision Board. I figured that roughly twice a month I’d have to do something out of the zone, and some years I exceed the designated 25.
This year, already, I have five things on the list! Overachieving. I’m comfortable being a planner so, for me, doing something spontaneously can be just enough to push me out of my comfort zone.
During this week’s Enchanted Breath, take several deep breaths and fully exhale all of your tension. Then close your eyes and think about your predictable and comfortable routines. Consider what variables you can add to up the ante in a way that is beneficial for you in body, mind, spirit and emotions.
Maybe you are aware that you need to stay hydrated but if you’re going to drink half of your weight in ounces each day, that might require you to carry a glass water bottle around with you at the office. You may not like the attention that could bring.
Perhaps you drive to your local grocery store and decide to ride your bike. That shakes up your routine and challenges you. Be sure that the physical strain of what you choose is not too great, nor the anxiety it produces, too much.
Enchanted Breaths are the “ahh, the haha, and the aha! of life.”
DISCLAIMER: These suggestions are intended solely for the purpose of stretching your boundaries to improve yourself and should not replace your own common sense or the advice of your health-care professionals.