How to increase your comfort zone and reduce anxiety.

June 10th 2022

Comfort zones can be great, but what if you need to step outside of them?

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I am sure you are familiar with the term comfort zone.  Within it we know how everything works.  Therefore, outside of the comfort zone is where we are not as sure about things – there is risk.  And the further you go out of that comfort zone, the greater the risk.

And when we perceive risk, fear is the natural response.

Therefore the greater the risk, the more anxiety we experience.  If the levels are low, we may be able to push through them (the fight element of the fight or flight response.)  If the risk is high, anxiety may lead to the flight – avoiding making that leap outside of your comfort zone.

And over time, that comfort zone can feel more restricting than comfortable!

So what happens when I can't avoid the risk but also am not brave enough to push through it either?

This is what leads to the sleepless nights, the sick feelings and potentially more serious physical symptoms.

The reality is we do all find ourselves in this situation sometimes.  It may be the job interview you have to have as you really need a job, but it is terrifying you.  Or the flight you are taking with your family you just can’t back out of.

Here is how you can face the anxiety of stepping out of their comfort zone in 2 easy steps.

1. The ABC of risk

People often say that they do not have confidence, which is often true.  However, confidence is something we get as a result of doing something else – and that something is ….. being brave.

So to go from Anxiety to Confidence, we need to cross the bridge of Bravery – from A to B to C!

The reality is we have all been brave at times in our lives – it is an emotion we have access to.

Step number one is to recall all the times you have been brave.  Our first experience of bravery is often the first time you were left by your Mum – be that at play school, or your first day at primary school. All the way through childhood there are a multitude of ‘first times’ which required us to be brave – and we were.

Take some action – jot down all the things you can now recognise that you were brave in doing. (I think you may be surprised at how long this list is!!)

From this list, notice that having been brave, confidence resulted.  I can still recall my first day at secondary school.  I remember how anxious I was on that first morning – I even remember it was a Tuesday.  But by Friday, I was not nearly so nervous because the school was becoming familiar, I had met most of the teachers.  A month in, and there was no anxiety.  Bravery had led to confidence.  And the comfort zone had grown.

2. Putting bravery into perspective

Having your list will show you how many times you have already been brave.  However, if that is not enough for you, let’s bring in some adult level logic.

Let’s say your comfort zone is a 1mx1m square – nice and cozy!  Taking this first step out is going to stretch that square to 2mx2m.  It’s a big step – taking you 100% further from where you started!  But you have just grown your comfort zone to 4 sq.m – a 400% increase.

And then you take another step.  You are now at 3m.  Going 2m to 3m is smaller, easier – 50% growth.  But your comfort zone is now 9 sq.m. – over 200% bigger than your last comfort zone!

And then another step – 3m to 4m.  Each step getting proportionally easier to do. Each step, the comfort zone getting disproportionately bigger!

And this is the reality of growing your comfort zone.  The more steps you take, the easier it becomes, and the bigger your comfort zone gets.

The hardest step is always the first.

But look back and see how many firsts you have done already.  Notice how much bigger your comfort zone is now compared to when you were much younger.

This next step is going to be easier than all those you have done already.  And that comfort zone you create will be so much bigger as a result.

This is a step up in bravery that you really can do!

Are you ready now to take it?

Caroline Cavanagh is an anxiety specialist  and hypnotherapist in Salisbury, Wiltshire.  She is an author and public speaker and would love to talk to you if you would like to know more about her work

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