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7 ways to get out of your comfort zone this week

Feel like you’re stuck in a rut? It might be time to break out of your routine.

Emma Marzekic
August 2017

A comfort zone is a like a real-world safety blanket; it envelops you and keeps you feeling secure.
A comfort zone is "a behavioural state where you operate in an anxiety-neutral position" within a routine of actions and activities that you perceive as reducing your stress levels, as described by psychologist Dr Judith M. Bardwick in her book Danger in the Comfort Zone. However, experts agree that breaking out of your comfort zone can increase your productivity and creativity.

“While the comfort zone can be a safe and predictable space, true growth and progress stems from the unknown and the uncomfortable,” explains psychologist Jayta Szpitalak. “Risk aversion can hinder your potential.”

The good news is you don’t have to quit your job or move towns to push yourself out of your comfort zone. In fact, doing a couple of different activities every week is enough to make you feel like you’re breaking out of your routine. Need some ideas of how to do that? Here are 7.

1. Change your routine

Sometimes we make the same choices so often that we don’t even notice we’re doing them: the same coffee, the same walk to work, the same small talk about the weather with colleagues. To shake things up a bit, try something new – that café that opened last week, a more picturesque route to work, or get to know a colleague better over lunch. As a result, you may start to appreciate the everyday more.

2. Get creative with a friend

Try a new hobby: this could be anything from painting, picking up a musical instrument or even joining a choir, anything that gets you using your brain differently. Research shows that being creative has a huge impact on reducing your stress levels as well. If you need some courage to tap into your creative side, sign up for a class with a friend.

3. Pay a stranger a compliment

Plucking up the courage to speak to a stranger and give them a compliment might make your heart beat a little louder. It can be confronting but also incredibly rewarding. Maybe it’s your bus driver, the woman behind you at the checkout, someone at your coffee shop – choose something about them you admire and give them a compliment. Not only will they feel better about themselves, you will too.

4. Reduce screen time

You’d be amazed how confronting it can be not to rely on TV or other screens for entertainment.
At home, Australian adults watch on average 18 hours of television a week and spend 13 hours on the internet, according to Roy Morgan Research. Try setting a maximum amount of time spent on each, and remove devices from the bedroom to reduce temptation.

By reducing screen time, you could end up spending more time with friends and family or on more active hobbies such as walking or an exercise class.

5. Mix up your exercise

Tuesday night spin class, Saturday afternoon run… after a while your mind gets as bored as your body does. “Physical exercise is an easy way to challenge yourself, and as a result you'll be more productive and focussed,” says personal trainer Tiffiny Hall.

If you attend classes, try something different – Zumba dance classes instead of spin cycling, for example. Or if you usually run to keep fit, try swimming laps or a team sport instead. It’ll be a challenge for your body and your mind.

6. Change your diet

Sick of cooking the same meals every night? Try working through your favourite recipe book or visit a farmers’ market or greengrocer to experiment with seasonal fruit and vegetables you haven’t cooked with before.

We all get used to cooking the same dishes all the time but by changing up the food you and your family eat, you’ll be forced to try new ingredients or different ways of preparing your favourite meals. And as long as you are eating healthily, a varied diet can promote physical wellbeing.

7. Be more positive

We can’t always change our situation but we can change our perspective. If we don’t like our job for example, we can’t necessarily quit, but we can focus on the positives such as friendly colleagues or a short commute time.

Alternatively, we can make less drastic changes that bring direction to what we’re doing, like speaking to our boss about professional development, setting ourselves achievable goals or volunteering to start a fundraising initiative for a cause you care about.

One way to get into the habit of positive thinking is to start a gratitude journal. This could be through simply putting pen to paper each day with three things to be thankful for, or you could try an app like Gratitude 365 app for iPhone or the Simple Gratitude Journal app for Android. Psychologist Robert Emmons reports that simply appreciating the good in our daily lives can make us more resilient and optimistic.

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