Anxiety can evoke the fight or flight response. A flood of cortisol rushes into your body and you have a sense of fear, dread or apprehension. The affects of this can have us stuck in a non-stretching, non-exciting, uninspiring place of inertia and dullness. And we may convince ourselves that this is the place we really want to be, but who are we really kidding?
THE PANIC ZONE
From the comfort zone we might begin to feel desperate and panicky. In this state something drastic might propel us forwards, in a desperate bid for freedom. In this position we might rush into the deep unknown, ending up in the panic zone, a place which has stretched us way beyond our limits into the abyss of anxiety and stress. This can be as paralysing as the comfort zone, as we get bogged down with terror and a feeling of being totally out of control. It is at this point that many people have a tipping point, ending up lying in a heap and heading towards total breakdown.
The STRETCH ZONE, the middle point between comfort and panic
It might surprise you to know that stress in small, manageable doses can actually be good for us. If we can learn to deliberately move towards change, in small manageable steps, then we are allowing our minds to become more adaptable to the anxiety and stress that life tends to throw at us. And neuroscience has shown us that when we deliberately change the way we react to life we are physically re-wiring the pathways in our brains. We are become more flexible and adaptable to life and as we do this more and more, our ability to manage anxiety and stress becomes easier.
TIPS FOR EASING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE into the STRETCH ZONE
TIP 1 Write down a goal you have been putting off because you felt too anxious to do it. Now, acknowledge that in not doing it, you are staying in the comfort zone and that it can feel really horrible to constantly be here, stuck.
Think about this, what is the worst that could happen if you took one step towards your goal? What is the best that could happen?
TIP 2 Write a list of small, manageable steps that would get you moving towards your goal. This is you moving into the stretch zone.
TIP 3 Look at your list, which step is the most do-able right now? The one that says to you “yeah I could do that and it feels okay to do it”. Now see if you can action that very small step.
TIP 4 Feel how it feels to have achieved that first baby step.
TIP 5 If you’re reading this and thinking, “I can’t do it” know that you are not alone; many, many people find it really challenging to move out of their comfort zone. It can be really helpful to acknowledge where you are and seek some outside help. Support from an impartial, professional counsellor can really help you to move forward. It is a sign of strength and courage to seek help. And remember “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Are you ready to take the first step?