We currently live in a world where things are constantly moving. Social media, people, rules, jobs, and laws have barely taken a beat within the last few years, especially with the onset of Covid. As a result, symptoms of anxiety and depression have increased significantly. According to the CDC, during the months of August 2020 – February 2021, “anxiety or depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%.” While the root causes of both anxiety and depressive disorders are different for each individual, the symptoms are the same. While these numbers are outstanding, there is a positive for the individuals willing to take the first steps. The feeling of anxiety is almost the same as the feeling of excitement. The number one thing that causes a mixed sense of excitement and anxiety is from stepping outside of our comfort zones.
That was a lot of information thrown at you so let’s break it down. For instance, let’s say that you decided to get out of your comfort zone by jumping out of a plane. Hopefully, you are doing this with a full-functioning harness and parachute. You get on the plane, and it begins to take off. Your heart starts to beat faster, and the adrenaline starts pumping. You reach the altitude at which you are supposed to jump. The weird instructor guy is hooked on, and you know that you will probably be safe, but the door is open, and you believe you can see the curve of the earth from this height and determine that it is way too high for you to jump. In kicks the anxiety as if it weren’t already there. You start to freak out. It feels like you are experiencing the early stages of a panic attack, and you haven’t had one of those since 2020. While you are literally backing away, the instructor flings his body out of the plane, and unfortunately, your body comes with it.
I want to pause right here. This is the exact moment of fear and anxiety meet. At this point, they are essentially groping each other. While everything inside you is at a standstill, you gauge how far the drop is and determine the probability of your death. While doing so, the excitement begins to take over. Eventually, you land and experience an extreme rush of adrenaline and excitement. First, because you didn’t die, and second because you made it and you are as far outside your comfort zone as you can possibly imagine.
Think of this in terms of your own life. While we can’t go jumping out of planes every second of every day, consider some things that will push you outside of your comfort zone. The biggest things are the things you really do not want to do. If just thinking about it makes your stomach turn and your heart race, you have successfully found the outside of your comfort zone. It is at this moment you get to decide if you want to turn that feeling into anxiety or excitement. Anxiety, of course, is entirely rooted in the sense of fear. If it is something that terrifies you, then it is the thing you should do.
So many of us nurture and protect the feeling of anxiety. Mental health should not be ignored, but it is also not something that should be coddled. If you want to overcome your anxiety, do the thing that terrifies you most. Like everything, this is completely specific to you. While somebody’s biggest fear is letting spiders crawl on their arms, someone else’s might be climbing a mountain or going out alone in public. Even hospitals cater to the anxiety that patients experience. While protecting a patient is of the utmost importance, doing the thing that scares them the most might just help them more than it hurts them. I’ll leave that idea with the professionals.
Waiting for a Sign
If you have an idea in your head about the comfort zone you need to break, here is the sign you have been waiting for. Breaking comfort zones takes guts, especially with the really hard stuff you know you don’t want to do. On a scale of 1 to 10, the risk you take should always be a 10. If it is not, you probably haven’t gotten far enough outside of your comfort zone.
For Those Who Live on Adrenaline
Some people are crazy adrenaline enthusiasts, and the way they get out of their comfort zones is very different. Maybe it is having a deep conversation with your significant other or telling a parent something you have never told them before. Perhaps your biggest demon is sobering up or going to the gym consistently. Whatever it is, you will know it when the feeling of excitement and anxiety meet.
After you have experienced both excitement and anxiety, you will likely be left with a feeling of complete euphoria or experience a state of shock. This is a totally normal feeling and should not be something that throws you off your game. At some point, you might just crave things that give you this feeling after you have done all the most significant risks in your life. Similar feelings arise when doing things that provide a rush of adrenaline or fear. Individuals who fear heights should consider hiking the edge of a cliff, or people who aren’t confident in their body image should wear lingerie. If your automatic response is “NO,” then try it out and see what happens. Even if it doesn’t work, you will likely feel more alive and empowered by the end.
In this crazy world, we must try different things. People are offended by everything and take most things to heart. The world doesn’t stop moving, and it can all feel truly overwhelming. Do some things for yourself that will push you far outside your comfort zone. I guarantee you will not be disappointed in the result as long as you dare to take the first step. Good luck!