Isn't It Time You Stepped Out of Your Comfort Zone?

By , SparkPeople Blogger

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." T.S. Eliot

You might think of adventure as something reserved for those with little responsibility who thrive on chaos and live for adrenaline. The truth is that everyone needs a little adventure in their lives to help them grow in happiness and good health. According to research, the desire to seek new experiences is a natural human tendency—and that includes experiences related to your health and wellness. Adrenaline junkie or not, we all need to shake up the routine now and then.

Don't let the term "adventure" lead you to believe you should start planning your climb up Mount Everest or scuba diving with sharks. According to Chris Englert, founder of Eat Walk Learn, adventure isn't as much of an activity as it is a state of mind. "With an adventurous state of mind, curiosity comes out and activity soars. It can be as simple as strapping on your walking shoes and discovering your city." Englert believes that adventure begins the moment you think up an idea. "To find your next adventure, dig into your thoughts. Do you have a bucket list? Have you watched a show or read a book that has inspired you? Start there," she suggests.

Being Adventurous Has Its Advantages

Feeling invigorated and actively engaged in life. "After [finding a job out of college], we sometimes become more deeply ingrained in our routines, which help us navigate our lives successfully," explains social worker Arthur Anderson. "For better or worse, these routines sometimes do not allow for enough variability within our lives." Anderson asserts that everyone's idea of adventure is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all version of what constitutes an adventurous experience. "Choosing an experience that is slightly outside of your normal but still allows you to feel safe and supported is very important. Going too far outside of your comfort zone can have the opposite intended effects." 

Allowing your curiosity to breathe. "This curiosity leads to active lifestyles, engaged friendships and interactive experiences," Englert says. "In turn, we develop more compassion, empathy and patience with the world, ultimately leading to a more peaceful existence."

Limiting feelings of stagnancy. Anderson points out that feelings of stagnancy can come from one's job, routine or feeling as though you can't engage in activities you once enjoyed. "Stimulating feelings of adventure can help counteract these feelings of stagnancy by reinvigorating past interests and fostering new ones."

Personal growth. Learning and developing new skills is a lifelong process. By pushing your limits, you might not always succeed, but you will likely learn something new about yourself. Don't hesitate to try new things because you're afraid to fail. Instead, think of those experiences as stepping stones to success.

Choose Your Own Adventure

If an adventurous mindset doesn't come naturally to you, never fear! "All you have to do is commit to making one change," advises entrepreneur Rebecca Binnendyk. This could mean telling family and friends you're focusing on your health when you usually keep those goals to yourself, or taking the exercise class that has always looked interesting but intimidating. "It might be putting aside $100 to buy the bike you keep saying you want to ride to work to get into better shape," says Binnendyk. "[Take] action, even if it feels different or uncomfortable. In fact, the more uncomfortable it feels, the more adventurous it probably is and the more rewarding the outcome will likely be."

When you're ready to step out of your comfort zone, consider starting with these simple ideas:

  • Experiment with recipes from other cultures.
  • Find new ways to take care of your mental health. Taking a yoga class, setting up a meeting with a therapist or starting a daily meditation practice are all good places to start.
  • Volunteer with an organization with a mission you believe in.
  • Try a new workout. Who knew kickboxing could be so fun?
  • Say "yes" when your first reaction is to say "no."
  • Check out a new genre of music.
  • Ask someone new to join you for a workout.
  • Change up your routine. Work out in the morning instead of at night, or pack your lunch instead grabbing the usual takeout.
  • Try a food you'd ordinarily decline. If it's been 10 years, it's time to give salmon another try.
  • Become a mentor. Inspiring others can inspire you.

When it comes to your health and wellness, the possibilities are endless for big and small adventures. All you need is a little courage and one step forward to dive into something new.