Feeling brave? Take a step outside your comfort zone
-Oct 9, Sophie Vokes-Dudgeon, Living -
Do you ever wish you were more brave? Does life feel a little samey sometimes? Do you feel you’re stuck in a bit of a rut? When was the last time you knew you were truly happy? It could be time to pluck up some courage and do something totally new. Taking on challenges and stepping outside of your comfort zone can feel scary – and while it’s part and parcel of being young, it’s easy to believe that being older and wiser gives you an excuse to avoid stressful situations and daring moments entirely.
According to experts, that’s not a good idea and it’s time to be brave – feel the fear and do it anyway. Not only do new challenges change things up a bit and make life exciting, the buzz you get from having dared to do something new is one sure path to happiness. Research shows that women, while bold in social situations (it’s more likely to be women than men who express controversial opinions in work meetings), are far less likely than men to take recreational risks. And, we’re missing out!
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone – we’re designed to push ourselves because that’s when we grow,” Susanna Halonen, a.k.a. the Happyologist, a happiness coach and author of ‘Screw Finding Your Passion’ says “You are at your best, and happiest, when you are growing.”
Positive Psychologist Itai Itzvan, from the University of East London, agrees. “You might feel nervous before a new event, but if you measure levels of self confidence, courage, hope and strength at the beginning of the day, and then again, after you’ve taken the risk, you’d see the levels go up. These qualities are so important for our wellbeing.”
Here’s a few ideas of ways to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, whatever your age:
- Join a choir – it might feel scary to join a bunch of strangers and then dare to sing, but making music is one of the best ways to boost your feelings of wellbeing and there are plenty of friendly choirs such as Singology and Rock Choir that require no audition. Or if that doesn’t take your fancy, how about signing up to a completely new fitness class. Hot yoga barre anyone?
- Get a new hairdo – how long is it since you did something really drastic to your hair? Go to a hairdresser you trust and ask for their honest opinion. If they had a free reign, what would they do with your hair. Then dare to give it a go!
- Go dancing – it doesn’t matter whether it’s salsa class, Zumba or night out with your girlfriends. Dancing is proven to be great for health and happiness plus there’s solid scientific proof that it also helps you stay younger for longer. Sign up for a class or arrange a night out that you thought you were too old for?
- Do something that scares you. Jumping out of a plane (whilst tied to an instructor), white water rafting, paragliding or booking a trip to a country which you have never been to but aren’t quite sure about (perhaps you have always wanted to go on a safari but can’t get over that niggling fear of being eaten by lions whilst napping in your luxury lodge) will both exhilarate you and help with control issues. Therapist Lucy Oxbridge agrees, “if you’re the sort of person that has to control everything around you then tandem skydiving will help with that because once you’re up in the air and about to jump you have no choice but to let go and trust that the instructor knows better than you. And, it’s extremely likely that you’ll really enjoy it.”
- Join your partner or child in a challenge of their choice! Whether it’s driving a supercar around a track, learning to horse ride or going on a wine tasting course – embrace your other half’s idea of fun and see what happens. We know several golf addicts who initially groaned at the idea, but now love spending the day walking around in the fresh air taking out their frustrations by whacking balls into the air.
In fact, doing something different that’s been inspired by your partner, children or close friends can be really great for your relationships too. “Being invited by others who are meaningful to us, to move outside our comfort zone is very helpful to our relationships,” Dr Ivtzan says. “One of the most interesting variables in healthy romantic relationships is whether couples encourage each other to move out of their comfort zones,” he adds. “We find that if couples support each other in new experiences, it leads to greater trust, warmth and communication.”
What are you waiting for? Let us know which leaps you’re taking outside of your comfort zone in the comments below.